Image Credit: Everett Collection (2)I’ll be honest, I’ve never read a single issue of Bicycling magazine. And now I know why: The editors over there must be nuts. Sure, they may know all about the Tour de France and why our lycra-clad, two-wheeled Olympians wear those funny-looking aerodynamic helmets, but they clearly know squat about movies. In the upcoming issue of the magazine, they pick “The Best Cycling Movies of All Time” and the rankings are highly suspect at best. In fact, I’ll save you a few bucks and spill the Top 9 list right here…
9. Key Exchange; 8. 2 Seconds; 7. The Stars and the Watercarriers; 6. A Sunday in Hell; 5. The Bicycle Thief; 4. American Flyers; 3. The Triplets of Belleville; 2. Breaking Away; 1. Pee-wee’s Big Adventure
Okay, now I’ll admit that coming up with any ‘Best Of’ list is a highly subjective task — in case you hadn’t noticed we do a lot of ranking here at EW. But this list raises all sorts of head-scratching questions. First off, don’t make a list of the “9 Best” anything if there aren’t 9 great contenders to begin with (the fact that Kevin Costner’s American Flyers is way up at No. 4 tells you all you need to know on this point.). Second, calling The Bicycle Thief a movie about cycling is like calling Citizen Kane a movie about sledding. Third, where’s the love for Kevin Bacon’s Quicksilver and Nicole Kidman’s BMX Bandits? (I kid). Fourth, and this is the main point, how on earth is Pee-wee ahead of Breaking Away?
Don’t get me wrong, I love Pee-wee’s Big Adventure. I can quote it backwards, forwards, and sideways. And I get that it is a touching story about a boy (man?) and his love for his bike, which really must be like catnip to anyone who writes about spokes, forks, and handlebars for a living. But better than Breaking Away? Seriously? Breaking Away isn’t just the greatest movie about bicycling ever made, it’s one of the best movies about sports ever made. (The film, for those who haven’t been lucky enough to see it, follows a blue-collar cycling team called the “Cutters” — made up of Dennis Quaid, Dennis Christopher, Jackie Earle Haley, and Daniel Stern — that takes on the snobby college kids in the Little 500 race.) It’s funny, touching, and pound-for-pound more insightful about the obsession of going fast on two wheels than anything Paul Reubens and company have to offer. Maybe the good folks at Bicycling were looking to make a hip choice and stir up a little controversy with their No. 1 selection (and I guess because I’m writing this, mission accomplished). But if they’re serious, then all I can do is offer this bargain: If they refrain from ranking movies again, then we’ll agree to keep our opinions to ourselves when it comes to weighing in on the 2011 Schwinns.
Am I overreacting? What’s your favorite bicycling movie?