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4.6 out of 5 stars
Bicycle Dreams: A Cycling Film [DVD]
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26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
on September 9, 2009
What is it about bicycles that make a certain brand of men and women strive to do what other people only dream about?

Auerbach's movie gives an up-close and personal view of what drives the cyclists who pedal across deserts, mountain ranges and plains coast-to-coast in the Race Across America.

You feel their pain and personal struggles, you cry over their tragedies and you share their exhilaration when they finish. You hear in their own words what makes them push themselves beyond normal human limits.

By the end, you'll know the answer to the question: What do you call the last cyclist to cross the RAAM finish line?

A winner.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on September 5, 2009
I learned about Bicycle Dreams from a post on a cycling forum, so when I bought the movie I thought it was going to be a "cyclist's" film, focusing on the details of RAAM, the bikes, and the technicalities of the race. But it isn't so much about RAAM as it is about the people involved in the race - who they are and why they do this amazing event. Endurance athletes (especially ultra-endurance athletes) are a special group, and the athletes featured in the film are all likeable, easy to watch and, without exception, inspiring in their dedication and toughness. I've watched this film more times than I can remember, and with each viewing I find it more engrossing and entertaining. Whether you're a cyclist, an endurance athlete, or just fascinated by people who want achieve far beyond what is considered normal, you'll love Bicycle Dreams. It is well worth watching, again and again.

"At the end of your life if people say you were kind, that is enough." - Dr. Bob Breedlove
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on September 9, 2009
I'm writing with prejudice, I am a cyclist. Never have I witnessed such a crystal clear depiction of what it feels like to spend hours on the bike. I am awed by Auerbach's prospective, he made you feel as if you were there with the RAAM competitors. You felt their pleasure and pain. You understood why they were doing this. This documentary made sense of what could easily be misconstrued as a ridiculous attempt for recognition. It is doubtful that RAAM soloist finishers will ever become famous, but they will have a sense of satisfaction few others will ever achieve.

"I have reason to believe the grass might be a little greener
on the other side" - Bob Schneider
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on December 30, 2010
While this film introduces the world to the madness that is the RAAM and the determination of the riders, I feel there are some key elements missing from the film. I first found out about this race and the film while listening to a RadioLab podcast about limits, where they discussed the limitations of humans, physically, mentally, and emotionally. The segment about the RAAM was moving and I wanted to know more, while experiencing the Elevation I was from the podcast, which brought me to the film.

The film follows the trials of a handful of riders from start to finish. It focuses more on the personal, and almost disconnects from the topic, questioning the abilities and decisions only indirectly and subtly. This film, however, needs a few additional things: narration, increased production value (most of the shots were done with a poor-quality SD camera), and details about not only the riders but also the race. I wanted to know how they prepare for it, the things they eat, statistics, ways they stay focused, engaged, etc. Besides, the film could have been made to be much more gut-wrenching, with the right music director and better editing.

It's unfortunate to hear about Jure Robic, as well. He was the icon in this film.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on September 11, 2009
I thought I was prepared for the material in this film. I mean I've been reading about the RAAM since it's inception and I knew it was basically a masochistic exercise in sleep deprivation and exhaustion. But the director makes you intimately involved with the players. Not just the riders and the systematic demolition of their physical and mental abilities but the enormous effort of the support staff for these riders and the emotional battering they go through to keep the riders on the road. I almost quit watching at the shocker halfway through the film because it hit me in hard the pit of the gut. But you keep watching, in hope and morbid facination to see what happens next. The director doesn't always show you what is happening but you know, even more acutely, because he shows you how it affects the players in the film. By the end you are as exhausted as the teams who finish and you feel the same endorphin high tempered with I'm-glad-it's-over-but man-what-a journey!

This is a first class film and will be of interest to cyclists, extreme athletes of any sport, students of the human psyche, and those who would like to personally see where the limits of human endurance are found.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on September 21, 2009
As a cyclist who has been aware of RAAM since the beginning, I was really looking forward to this movie. They showed it at a local velodrome, and I missed the screening, so I bought the DVD. The movie is everything a documentary should be: Informative, touching, inspiring. I was continually shaking my head in amazement at the ordeal to which these athletes willingly chose to subject themselves.

However, I only give "Bicycle Dreams" four stars (wish it could be four-and-a-half) for a few reasons:

1. I would have liked to set the context a little better. For obvious reasons, Auerbach focuses on just a few cyclists in the race. But other than an establishing shot at the beginning, we have no idea how many people are actually riding. I know in the first RAAM in 1982 (back when it was the Great American Bike Race), there were just four competitors. It is mentioned that 288 people had ridden RAAM in the 24 years between that first race and when the movie was made. That averages to 12 per year. Yet we only meet half a dozen riders. It would have been nice to have ALL the competitors briefly introduced at the beginning, and then see their status at the end. (Also, that 288 number apparently applies only to the solo race category. There are 20 different categories, including eight-man teams, so that figure isn't quite accurate.)

2. Like so many documentaries, this one follows the sequence of set-up, exposition, interview, repeat. It is an effective storytelling device. But after a while, I started to lose track of who was who, or the relationship they had to one another. There was one trainer shown at the beginning (and a few times in the middle), who I didn't realize was actually participating in the race until near the end.

3. As a DVD, I would have liked some extras. I actually rarely watch extras, but this time, I would have loved to see more of the unused interview footage, maybe old press footage from when RAAM was covered on national TV, an interview with the founders of the race (even from old footage), etc. The fact that Jure Robic has gone on to win the race twice more is amazing and the sort of thing that could be mentioned in a DVD extra.

In any case, this is still a great film and very much worth watching. I hope it is entered for Oscar consideration in the documentary category this year. It certainly deserves a nomination. I found it as moving and exhilarating as last year's winner, "Man on Wire."
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on September 9, 2009
I had the privilege of attending a standing-room only screening of "Bicycle Dreams" at the Little Roxie in San Francisco earlier this year. This is such an incredible American tale - the cyclists, their teams, the guys who shot this film.It didn't hurt that I was actually sitting behind Shanna Armstrong, the first solo female winner of this race. I'm a cycling fanatic. I had to own this DVD. But, this is one of those DVDs that will bring anyone back over and over to watch these riveting stories of people who are each so unique but are all willing to give *everything* for this sport.

You really want "Bicycle Dreams" in your library!
Bicycle Dreams
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on September 5, 2009
When I ordered this film, I was already familiar with the Race Across America (RAAM) from my ties with the local American Diabetes Association here in RTP. One of the founders of Team Type I (TTI) had spoken of RAAM at a recent event with the juvenile diabetes support group. To hear the effort it took complete RAAM as a team, I could only imagine the effort it would take in the individual competition. "Bicycle Dreams" quickly took the images I formed in my mind about the individual competition and put them into real perspective. Stephen Auerbach sets the initial stage with interviews of several competitors, but you are not sure if these crazy people have already completed the race or if this was pre-race material. What really catches you off guard, is the fact that these folks are not crazy. They are, for the most part, normal cyclists with a desire to compete at the extreme endurance level. Each one of the profiled riders is slowly introduced and their story developed over the next seven days. There is no focus on the equipment or anything other than the riders themselves. Within the first few minutes of actual race coverage, you start to feel like you are part a support team. As the documentary continues, you are drawn deeper into the fray that is RAAM. By the end, you are left with utmost respect for those that race. The photography is on par with most documentaries and it seems at times that there is not a portion of the race that escapes the many embedded camera operators. As a volunteer photographer for several charity rides in my area, I quickly realize that there is a finite set of shots and inevitably some shots will all start looking the same. This is somewhat true with the photography in the film, but fine editing and the backdrop of the American landscape distracts from any repeat offender sequences.

This documentary will touch your heart. The feeling left with me after watching the film is one of great respect for the competitors, their support teams, and families.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on September 9, 2009
An incredible film about incredible people doing incredible things. Take a glimpse into the world of ultra cycling and find out why these amazing people do the things they do. Be sure to have a box of tissues close by as your emotions will be pushed to unexpected limits as you experience the race alongside the riders and crews struggling with this amazing race. You will never forget the stories held within this film. A must see for anyone with any sense of adventure!!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on September 8, 2009
One of the greatest documentaries I have ever viewed. Auerbach brings you into the lives of the riders and the rigors of the event in a most personal way. For anyone interested at the breadth of the human will when confronted with the most grueling circumstances, buy this video.
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