I grew up in a city in Washington State that was five miles from pretty much everything. To get to a grocery store, library, restaurant, or mall, I had to travel quite a ways. As a result, it was a fun challenge to try to run or bike places. My community college was about 20 miles away, so that always felt like quite a commute. A couple of times, I was crazy enough to ride my bike there.
I thought of myself as fairly speedy, but I could never keep up with the cars going past me at 40 miles per hour. If you’ve ever been on a long bike ride with nothing but you and the open road ahead, there’s a certain movie scene I think you’ll love.
I’m sure most people would say that E.T. the Extra Terrestrial has the best cycling scene when Elliot flies in front of the moon or when he and his friends elude the police in the early morning light. And there are plenty of people who love the climax of Pee-wee’s Big Adventure and the “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head” scene from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.
But for me there’s one scene that breaks away from the rest and wins by a mile, and that’s the truck-racing scene in Breaking Away. I like a lot of things about that film, but this is the only scene that really stuck with me.
It’s absolutely perfect. The moment where he sees his goal is 50 miles away. His timid start on his long journey. The truck driver pulling ahead and signaling how fast he’s going to the cyclist behind him, beginning at 40 miles per hour. The cyclist struggling to maintain his close position as the truck speeds up to 60 miles per hour. The triumphant moment when the cyclist emerges from behind the truck to signal his hard-fought victory over pain. The driver’s amazed hand signal marking this achievement. And the final moment when the truck driver gets pulled over by the police for speeding while the cyclist is free to go his way. This the kind of feeling any cyclist longs to feel – the exhilaration of the chase and the recognition of a job well done.
This emotional journey is captured beautifully in this sequence. If you want to get pumped for a workout, this is a great scene to watch.
This is the Deja Reviewer bidding you farewell until we meet again.
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