Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Ride the Divide Review

Last night I continued my Netflix binge by watching "Ride the Divide."
Ride the Divide (2010) Poster

90% of the enjoyment I get from Netflix is hoarding lots of interesting things in my queue without ever actually watching any of them. (Please tell me I'm not the only one who does this?) As it were, I noticed "Ride the Divide" when going through the sports documentaries category over the summer but never made time to watch it. While my workouts have been going way better than last week, I thought a boost of motivation couldn't hurt.

This documentary follows the story of a diverse group of mountain bikers riding from Banff, Canada, to the US-Mexican border as part of a self-supported race. The route covers over 2700 miles and more than 200,000 feet of elevation gain. Paraphrasing the filmmakers, the route comprises a variety of terrain, ranging from forest roads to abandoned two-tracks.

The film focused on Matthew Lee, who had won the race several times previously and was hoping to do so again; Reuben Kline, Matthew's one true competitor; and Mary Metcalf-Collier, seeking to be the first woman to complete the entire race.
If I'm ever leading a race, I hope I make the time to moodily eat snacks on a random church porch.
The first thing that struck me about "Ride the Divide" was how much film crew documented their own journey trying to film the event. One of the (many) things I can't stand is superficiality, so it was so refreshing to hear them complaining how they couldn't find their film subjects! The race had an online tracking system, so everyone could have a some idea where the other racers were, but actually finding them on sometimes unforgiving trails could be quite a challenge. My favorite moment was in the beginning when the crew got stuck by construction and missed the start of the race. I really appreciated seeing their struggles and how they overcame them to still make an awesome documentary.

In this same vein, it didn't appear that the crew had any sort of "pre-planned" narrative. The locals they met along the way seemed to be part of genuine encounters, and the filmmakers often relied on other racers for advice on who they should talk to on any given day. However, they edited everything together in a very cohesive fashion. I cheered for Matt and Mary the whole time and was often in suspense about what would happen. I'm not sure what questions they asked the racers during filming - as only responses were shown - but I always found the racer spots enlightening, and they helped me understand the nature of such a monumental race better.
Though if someone wanted to interview me while I was trying to sleep, I might suffocate them with my bivvy sack.
My other favorite part of the film was seeing the landscapes the race traveled through. I absolutely love the West, and I'm bummed it'll be at least another year or two before I can go back there. (I've thought about moving, but it's relatively important to us to stay near family.) Even though I grew up with the woods of Michigan, I am totally in love with the desert and mountains of the Southwest. Watching that for an hour and a half gave me a serious case of wanderlust.
*grabby hands*
I obviously don't want to spoil the ending, but I found it very satisfying. There was a short epilogue that tied other story lines together without being overdone.

In the end, "Ride the Divide" wasn't as purely motivational as I had expected after watching other films, such as "Spirit of the Marathon." But that's not to say I didn't love the film, because I totally did! I have very little interest in cycling as it's own sport (and let's not pretend it's my favorite part of triathlons either), but I was engaged and intrigued for the duration of the movie. The pacing was great, I felt connected to the racers and filmmakers, and I learned quite a bit about an unfamiliar subject. At 82 minutes, it's doable even for a week night viewing.

The only problem I had was when the racers complained they were alone in these incredible parts of nature for extended periods of time.
Wishing you could actually say this to everyone.
Sounds like an introvert's dream to me!

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