Movie Review: The Soul of the Cyclist

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By Greg Overton — The bicycle is often described as the noblest machine ever produced, where the engine is also passenger, and its use makes one healthier. Many cyclists who have a longstanding history with the bike, and especially a bike that has carried them for many miles and many hours to many places will have developed a relationship of sorts with that bike, and also with the activity of cycling.

In a soft paced and well-presented film called ‘The Soul of a Cyclist’, produced by AntiClone Productions and Director Nuno Tavares, we enjoy several tales of cyclists who ride historic bikes for enjoyment, peace of mind, touring, basic transportation and simply for their love of doing it. We see traditional, historic products that carry the heritage of cycling in the age of technology and many who love the heritage and carry it proudly. There are no electronics, cutting-edge materials or training aids featured. Instead, we see a look back at a simpler time, yet one that translates well now and ongoing, as enduring as the machine itself. The film introduces us to riders and manufacturers and also to some of the challenges faced in finding high quality parts and shops who can still service historic and simple bicycles of the past.

Based in Portugal, Tavares’ home, and also filmed in England and Spain, this film carries the viewer along with riders on their solo journeys as well as huge cycling events such as The Tweed Ride in London, which draw hundreds or thousands of period bicycles with riders dressed in period correct attire and social gatherings that celebrate it all. This film is based around primarily traditional, upright, sprung saddle bikes and riders and their love of simply riding their bike. There is no racing per se or competition, but mostly leisurely cycling and the bike as daily transport or for travel. Yet, the current competitive rider will also identify with the connection made to the machine, what miles on a bicycle can do for health, the environment and a unique view of one’s surroundings by simply pedaling along and moving in quiet introspection.

A still from the movie The Soul of a Cyclist. Photo courtesy Nuno Tavares

‘The Soul of a Cyclist’ is a subtle and friendly nod to those who recognize and nurture this connection to the simple, sturdy, crafted machine that is capable of taking its partner nearly anywhere, yet at a pace that provides a thorough in-the-moment look at every mile along the way. A sort of belonging while also passing through. And the film shows that in all parts of the world, this connection is universal. Even this viewer whose involvement in cycling is mostly connected to racing and racing bikes, the heritage and connection are recognizable and familiar and are wholly identifiable.

The film is roughly an hour and ten minutes viewing time, with English subtitles throughout except where English is spoken on screen. It moves along conversationally and reading the subtitles while trying to take in the visual tour can bring about the need to watch more than once in order to catch everything presented. There is more on offer in ‘The Soul of a Cyclist’ than ‘bikes are very cool’, but it does send that message in a comfortable way, and the viewer will receive it. Because of the focus away from technology and onto the bike as the simplest machine for both reflection and discovery simultaneously, it is a great post ride watch that will grow your eagerness to take the next one.

For more information on The Soul of the Cyclist or to stream it, visit the film's website: https://en.almadeciclista.com

 

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