Saturday, October 29, 2005

Review: Off Road to Athens

P1010022

Finally, finally got my copy of Off Road to Athens. I've been waiting for this for years ever since I heard about it being made. There has never been anything really made before that focuses on Cross Country Racing like this. And the drama surrounding the whole Olympic Selection fiasco was one of those things that you couldn't make up a better story.

This has some of the best footage of XC racing I've seen and does a good job of showing the speed and pain of XC. Which is just so so hard to capture on film. Some of the steepness of the hills still didn't come across but I knew how hard they were just by watching the body position of the riders and how hard they were working.

Although I was a bit disappointed that there was not more racing footage. But they had a story to tell and a limited time to do it.

The story behind the Olympic selection was so compelling and I was on the edge the whole time. Even though I knew most of it already from reading Velonews, etc. it was still presented in rivetting fashion.

I particularly liked the opportunity to see the racers one-on-one and put a personality with the pictures of my heroes. Heroes to me only because they race XC but now true heroes because I got to see them up close and felt closer to them and got an understanding of their focus, perserverance and love of mountain biking. I've met and talked to Jeremiah Bishop and Sue Haywood before. But had never seen much on the other racers other than reading articles or their BLOGs.

I found Alison Dunlap particularly endearing. Todd Wells seemed much younger looking than I thought. Adam Craig was quite mature for his age, though anyone that says "No Worries" is young to me. Shonny and JHK were cool too.

The anguish and stress assoicated with the race to the Olympics was so tense you could feel it. I could feel goosebumps and tears welling up in my eyes during some of the interviews with Sue Haywood and Alison Dunlap. The entire USA Cycling fiasco was so frustrating as an observer I can't imagine what it would be like for a racer. I know how serious I take my 4 or 5 vet sport races I just can't imagine the stress on the racers where every race had to count.

Personally, I agreed with John Tomac's take on how to select an Olympic team. Team coach does it within X amount of time before the games. That way you get the best/strongest at the time of the games. A single race format can get screwed up with mechanicals, crashes, etc and isn't the best indicator. The chasing of points across the globe created a bad environment to race your best.

One note if you are going to watch this with your young children there is a tiny bit of swearing. "Mommy, she said a bad word."

So even if it sucked I'd like it because it is about XC mountain biking. But it was incredibly well done, exciting and compelling. And it just helps to get me more excited about my own racing and helps solidify my love of cycling and mountain biking.

1 Comments:

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