I’ll never forget the first time I watched Breaking Away. Everything about the film mesmerized and charmed me. The fake Italian identity. The friendship among the Dave, Mike, Cyril, and Moocher. The ambition. The catastrophic pump in the spokes. The swimming hole. The infamous t-shirts. “Refund?!” I laughed. I cried. I wanted to go ride a bike. I was 12.
Now I work for a bicycle touring company and one of my jobs is to create weekly emails that spread our love for traveling by bike, eating food, exploring new cultures, and building connections. What better way to feature these ideas than through the beloved storytelling art form of the moving picture. Whether as a dramatization of a true story, first-person documentary, animated feature-length film, or fictionalized coming of age reflection, movies about people on bikes overcoming the odds are some of the best movies on the planet.
For these dark, short days of the year when taking a post-work ride requires full lights, fleece-lined leggings, lobster claw gloves, a wool cap, and insulated booties, the option to snuggle up on the sofa with a great movie sounds inviting. If I can’t be on a bike, perhaps someone else’s experience will stoke the fires of inspiration.
This collection of bike-centric films features stories from across the world. Themes range from women’s empowerment, access to biking and human rights to old-school bike racing, following your dreams, and overcoming the impossible. While they may not be THE BEST films ever made, this collection of bike films is the best I have yet curated. May you enjoy!
Triplets of Belleville (2003)
Rising from Ashes (2012)
Women Don’t Cycle (2022)
My Italian Secret: The Forgotten Heroes (2014)
The film recounts how WWII bicycling idol Gino Bartali, physician Giovanni Borromeo and other Italians worked with Jewish leaders and high-ranking officials of the Catholic Church, risking their lives by defying the Nazis to save thousands of Italy’s Jews.
Biking Borders (2022)
The Flying Scotsman (2006)
A Sunday in Hell (1976)
The film follows the French Paris-Roubaix spring classic, notorious for the hellish paves or cobbled roads of the north “which are no longer used for traffic but only for transporting cattle – and for cycle races”.