I’ve been addicted to sugar, coffee, and cigarettes so I know first hand the emotional strife that comes with trying to quit something cold turkey. Now that the Tour de France is over, many of us are jonesing without 5-6 hours of racing to watch every day. You can satisfy some of the cravings on the bike, but what do you do with the rest of the day? Here are the best movies and YouTube channels to watch for a quick cycling fix.
Breaking Away is an undisputed classic. A teenage cyclist becomes disillusioned while chasing his racing dreams in a small midwest town. But he’s able to overcome it all with the power of love and friendship. It won a Golden Globe and an Academy Award because it was a fun, inspiring story that just so happens to satisfy bike dorks like us.
American Flyers combines drama with a little bit of cycling history. Brothers Marcus and David Sommers travel cross-country for the Hell of the West race, which is basically the legendary Coors Classic. If you remember any 80’s pros you’ll enjoy the healthy dose of cameos along the way.
The Racer captures the dark side of professional cycling. But hey, you can’t have light without the dark. This movie was way more enjoyable than The Program and it does a decent job of capturing some of the “why” of doping. Plus, because it was made in 2020 the racing looks pretty darn good. And hey, is that Jorah from Game of Thrones!?
Nasu: Summer in Andalusia
It doesn’t matter if you do or don’t like anime. If you like cycling, you need to watch Nasu, a short film about a lone domestique, Pepe, launching a suicidal long range attack during a stage of la Vuelta. Will he make it to the finish? If you watched pro cycling in the early 2000s the nostalgia of this film will make you feel like a kid again.
A Sunday in Hell
Merckx. De Vlaeminck. Moser. If you want to revisit the glory days of ‘70s bike racing, A Sunday in Hell is it. This brooding documentary captures the raw brutality of Paris-Roubaix back in an era when the equipment was rudimentary, but the riders were tough as nails. Best of all, it’s free to watch on YouTube.
Hell on Wheels (Höllentour)
Hell on Wheels (Höllentour in the original German) follows Team Telekom with riders like Erik Zabel and Rolf Aldag giving us an intimate look at what racing looked like in the twilight of their careers. Look past the fleeting glimpses at Lance and the other convicted dopers and what you have is a beautifully done ode to the mystique and history of the Tour de France.
Rising from Ashes
Get the tissues ready. Few stories capture cycling's spirit of hope and perseverance quite so powerfully as Rising from Ashes. I’ll watch this from time to time just to remember what’s really important in life, and how the simple joy of riding a bike can be all you need to find a little bit of light.
Cycling YouTube channels
If you’re addicted to professional road racing, Lanterne Rouge is the go-to resource for race analysis and commentary. He breaks down strategy and tactics with humor and expert insight. It is my favorite place to watch race highlights because I always leave feeling like I have a deeper understanding of how and why a race unfolded. I plan to go back over the entire 2021 Tour.
The production quality of Rapha Films has always been top-notch. They create beautiful, ethereal videos that somehow capture the idealized version of cycling we all have in our heads. Things have only gotten better with the "Rapha Gone Racing" series. Right now, Lachlan Morton is my spirit rider. I can't wait for the Alt Tour video but until then explore other great riders in their stable like Lael Wilcox.
Vegan Cyclist’s channel isn’t about being vegan. He’s a competitive road and gravel racer who shares his experience training and racing while juggling his family responsibilities. He narrates all of his joy, self-doubt, and pain. It's easy for any dedicated rider to relate and when success comes, you feel genuinely happy for him. If you have the time, full-length features like The Impossible Route: Death Valley, are amazing adventures to follow.
The Pro’s Closet
Of course, I have to plug our own channel. One of the most impressive aspects of our business is our vintage bike museum. It’s a huge passion project for our Founder and CEO, Nick Martin, and it is one of the biggest in the country. Check out our Museum Series playlist to see what happens when we take a camera, microphone, and sometimes a case of beer to meet some of cycling’s legendary figures.
Bonus cycling book
Slaying the Badger
Maybe you want to cut down on screen time and curl up in bed with a good book. In that case, I recommend Slaying the Badger by Richard Moore. Moore recounts the tense battle between French hero, Bernard Hinault, and his up-and-coming American teammate, Greg LeMond. The story is gripping and satisfying. When you’re done, you can relive it all over again with the excellent 30 for 30 documentary of the same name.
What are you watching (or reading) now that the Tour is over? What else belongs on this list? Let me know in the comments!
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