I got RAAM’ed.

The other night I was hanging out at the ol’ Dude N’ Hug watching Vancouver get the snot slapped out of ‘em by perhaps my least favorite hockey team in the NHL, when in walked the great and noble Gnome.

We bullshitted for a bit as the Bruins fans (over)celebrated their victory, and got to talkin’ about a fine film showing at the Orpheum called “Bicycle Dreams.” The movie is a documentary about the Race Across America, which rolls through Flagstaff every year with barely a bat of the eye from ol’ D2. Then I heard tickets were a steep $15, and I said no thank you. As Gnome is apt to do, however, he got the hook-up, and free tickets were had.

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Gnome had to bail, so I watched the film alone (well, not true: you’re never alone in Flagstaff…). As I walked into the theater, I half thought that if it sucked, I’d finish my tallboy PBR and head the hell home, slightly drunk and happy.

I didn’t leave early.

It was a damn good film.

Here’s the thing.

This movie got me at the right moment. Shit, I was getting emotional within the first two minutes of the movie. This is less a movie about bicycles and more a movie about conquering the status quo. It was a kick in the gut. As I watched, I thought not about spinning wheels and saddle sores and tired 24 hour races, not about hallucinations and Hammer Gel, but instead about my wife. About my family and my dog. About my job, my clothes, my guitars, my body, my hair, my fingernails. About Flagstaff, about Denver, about Orono, Maine and Waterbury, Connecticut.

Bikes did not enter the conversation going on in my head because this movie is barely about bikes.

I don’t want to tell you about this movie because I can’t tell you what it’s about. Guys riding bikes, sure. It’s another fucking bunch of athletes talking about how hard the race is, how it feels to just finish, blah blah fucking blah. You can’t watch this with that mind. Look deeper. Look for you in the film, because you’re there. I can’t tell you where you’ll be, but you’ll be there. Maybe watching. Maybe riding. Maybe working the counter at a gas station in Missouri. It’s scary, but you’re there.

I had just finished up a ride during which I demo’ed a Giant Anthem 29er, or as I like to call it, the FUCKING BOMB that made me want to sell my Gunnar, and my legs felt good. My head felt clear, my gullet ready for a beer.

By the end of the movie, I felt drained. Trampled. Ridden over. Spit out.

This is not a movie about bikes.

It’s about motivation. About self-confidence. About ambition, and the fear most people have of it. But you have to look beyond the wheels, the helmets, the lycra and the energy drinks. Like so many other moments on the bike, you have to be smart enough to realize it’s rarely about bicycles.

Anyway, enough babbling. I recommend the hell out of this movie, even for those folks who won’t see beyond the wheels, because it’s fun to watch them spin anyway. Go in with an analytical mind and you’ll take a lot from it, I promise.

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About D2

I am a writer and a photographer. I never killed a man in Reno, but I once rode a bike through a casino in Vegas. Bikes are cool, huevos rancheros are for breakfast, whiskey is for dinner. Denver, Colorado, USA

19 thoughts on “I got RAAM’ed.

  1. my favorite quote in the movie was “endurance athletes are running away from something”. that got the tears flowing for me.

  2. well said D2. watch it again knowing that the man of the race, Robic, got hit while out training and was killed on his bike last year. I popped in the DVD the day i heard the news of his death, and that day the movie was not about bikes either.

  3. movis was sick,i cryed three times,especially when Robic pulled in to atlantic city(super humbling moment of triumph). yesterday i was lucky enough to talk with an austrian team following a german raam rider,and you guessed it, they are alot like all of us here in flag..So if you see the RAAM riders give em some love,give em some room,cheer em on…

  4. …i remember seeing network broadcasts about the raam a number of years ago & the nature of that race is such that it can’t help but breed strong ‘triumph of the will’ emotions…

    …you’re right, d2…we view something like that through the kaleidoscope of our own experiences & it can make for some pretty intense stuff…

  5. …puck esoterica (sorry non-hockey fans)…d2, you gotta admit (i’d think) that while scrappy, the bruins won as a team, playing with a lotta heart…+ a 37 year old goalie who stood on his head, night after night…

    …the more talented canucks, with the ‘louganis twins’ couldn’t match the emotion that boston brought to the rink each night & that proved the difference…a 43 year old mark recchi, playing regular shifts helped keep that emotion in check & led the young guys to the win…

    …perhaps the series sea change – horton goes down, boston responds with a flurry of goals…raymond goes down, vancouver responds by giving up a flurry of goals…

    …the stanley cup (the coolest trophy in all of sports) was won by the better playing team this year…

    …now back to your regularly scheduled bicycle programming…

  6. I’m a New York Rangers fan. I don’t like the Canucks or the Bruins…I do like Timmy Thomas, though. Badass for sure. Everyone else on the Bruins: eh.

  7. …i still have a ranger t-shirt from the ’94 series…

    mess was the best, ya ???…

  8. …i stayed at what was the ‘doral tuscany’ at 39th & lex in nyc about 4 months after the rangers won the cup…

    …ex-oilers, craig mactavish, esa tikkanen & glenn anderson had lived in the hotel when sather brought them in specifically for the ’93-’94 season, so besides the notorious strip club, the team partied at the tuscany & the doorman was showing me photos of the players & hotel employees with lord stanleys cup…

    …mike richter is one of those guys i still have a ton of respect for, not only for how he played the game but for other qualities he exemplified…brian leetch is the same way in my book…two very decent guys…

  9. …holy fuck, d2…you were a goalie ???…goalies are ‘crazy people’, ya ???…& i’m not being insulting…

    …a number of years ago, i had a friend stand behind the net, back of the glass during a warmup while a local league team peppered the goalie…high shots came into that glass so fast we were both flinching…insane stuff…

    …i played on a team for years as a kid with this guy:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gerry_Meehan

    …no implication that i was ever close enough to make ‘the bigs’…didn’t have the talent…

    …still love the game though, when it’s played well…

  10. I was, indeed, a goalie until very recently. I gave it up this year because it hurt my body so much, but man, it was a ton of fun. I wasn’t exactly talented, but I was pretty good at getting hit by stuff.

  11. …much respect, amigo…

    “…but I was pretty good at getting hit by stuff.” – luongo, while talented, should a’ been so lucky…

    …cycling & hockey – the two sports & activities that have stood ‘the test of time’ strongest in my heart…

    …aces, goaltender, total aces…

  12. UPDATE: Just saw a bunch of RAAM riders ride by in Flagstaff. The only female they follow in the movie passed me at an intersection about an hour ago. It was pretty awesome watching the pain and suffering on their faces. They all looked like zombies.

  13. Just drove home from the N. Rim after 5 days riding Rainbow Rim and AZT. We saw a lot of the RAAM riders suffering across the rez between Flag and Tuba City turnoff. Gale force cross winds so bad there were sand dunes forming behind the guard rails. No kidding. 40-60 mph. Bad day to be on a bike out there but they were cranking along.

  14. Wife bought me the DVD for Christmas this year. We watched it together (I figured since it was about road biking, she’d like it too). Damn…I was embarrassed when I started tearing up…but I looked at her and she was already crying. That movie hits hard right on the part of your soul that DRIVES you. I’ve been an endurance athlete my whole life and am very in touch with that feeling…but it was REALLY cool to see my wife, who has only become a biker in the past couple years, feel that same emotion. Last week, she told me she hasn’t had the same desire to ride that she’s had over the past couple summers…perhaps I’ll just tell her to watch the DVD again…

  15. back to hockey for a moment if I may, you have to appreciate Chara riding his bike to and from the celebration parade this weekend. apparently his dad was a soigner. the B’s are a down to earth bunch.

  16. and that young Leipheimer fellow rode well on Sunday, it seemed like, at least to me.