Film Review: The Hard Road
Not very often do we cycling nut-bags get something made for us, but this time is different. The Hard Road is a film made for us in a couple of ways; it’s enjoyable for race fans as a better look at the life of real pros, and it’s also made well enough that those non- cycling people around us will probably enjoy it too.
That said, who gives a crap what our non cycling friends think… This Film will, more than anything, give race fans a better respect for what the riders trying to get to the top are going through. It will also give you a lesson in how truly special the World Class riders winning the best of the best in Europe must be for having been so dominant while going through the same thing. The Hard Road is after all, traveled by every pro cyclist.
Though it’s listed as a documentary, Jamie Paolinetti’s The Hard Road is more of a live-action / sport film / personal drama that happens to be about real people in true circumstances than it is a Documentary. Honestly, it’s the dream version of what every cyclist would want in a reality TV show (if you sell that to a studio Jamie, I wanna piece!). It sure beats the shit outta some half baked scripted crap on TV that looks like the start of a joke: a white guy, a black guy, a gay guy, a priest and an anorexic chick are stuck on an island… It’s based around the Net Zero team as it’s riders work through the personal and sporting difficulties of a full season. I would love to see something like this every week on OLN.
The film touches on ability, inability and the realities that some must face about themselves in order to make a living at the sport. The Hard Road ends quickly for some and slowly for others and it rarely leads to a pot of gold. It also brings to light the risks involved in putting your life in the hands of sponsors that come and go like the wind. Shame it doesn’t show anything about what happens when you crash and are injured as a Pro. Pro’s rarely have comprehensive medical insurance, and I know of a couple of riders that have spent two or three times the salary they were supposed to make covering medical bills for injuries they sustained at work. (Velonews should be roundly applauded for their coverage addressing this a few issues ago. It’s an absolute crime).
This is also the first film I have seen that touches on how ridiculously hard it is to be a pro cyclist’s significant other. I don’t care who you are, if you ride seriously, it creates tension. Try tripling your training time (making you useless when you’re off the bike) and spending weeks or months on the road… Then consider that the income of the average PezCycling News reader is 5 times what the average Pro makes. I know a few couples making it work (and they are unbelievably special people). I know a whole bunch who are not making it work (and they are super great people too!).
But hey! Cheer up! There is also cool footage of race action that shows the significance of team strategy and how great it is when things work out. There’s lots of coverage of the US national calendar races and the discussions that go into the pre race attack plan. It also shows the talent gaps between the best in the world and the best of the rest in the USA and the harsh way that some find out where they stand.
The feeling I always get, when interviewing, speaking to or just hanging out with true Pro riders (not your local cat 1-2’s, but the guys traveling the entire country making it a living) is the feeling that very few of even the most rabid and faithful cycling fans have the slightest idea how tough it is to have cycling as a job. Simply put, I know a ton of pro’s who would drop what they do to make the steady money that most of our readers make, and very few of our readers who would drop their jobs for a starting salary of @ 10 – 15 grand and a life on the road.
This film helps clear the rose colored glasses you may have been looking through and helps you see pros as the same flesh and blood as you and I – with the same hopes and desires. The Hard Road is the best example on film to date of the fact that the pain and suffering we see Pro cyclists endure at any time in a race is nothing compared to the effort and sacrifice required to simply line up at the start. Go get a copy!
You can get it at www.thehardroad.com.