The best TV shows and documentaries for cyclists
With the days shortening and Kickr season right around the corner, I thought this is a good time to share some of the best cycling documentaries and tv-shows I have seen recently. Nothing helps kill time like staring at the screen when the indoor trainer is testing your mental stamina.
Being a lover of most things on two wheels, I hope I managed to find a good mix of all cycling disciplines. I have posted links to Youtube where I could find them. Others are available on Netflix.
The Armstrong Lie
The return to racing and the fall of the Armstrong empire are shown, maybe in more details than we need to know.
Here’s a cycling block buster, but consider it for a second viewing if you have seen it. Where everybody knew the basics of the Armstrong story after the collapse of his empire in 2012 and early 2013, this movie shows how much force he used to silence his opponents. What ‘winning at all costs’ really means. As much as it established my opinion about Armstrong being the best of the cheaters and therefore his achievements are still somehow respectable, it mostly left me with a sour feeling seeing the lengths LA would go to to protect the fame and fortune he built for himself. The most interesting parts might be the interviews with Dr. Ferrari, a man who is known to not speak much in public.
Clean Spirit (available on Netflix)
After the doping riddled history of cycling, Clean Spirit shows a new generation of cyclists. It follows the Argos Shimano team (currently Team Giant Alpecin) participating in the 2013 Tour de France. It documents the rise of new sprinting super star Marcel Kittel, who beat Cavendish and Greipel multiple times and we see a young Tom Dumoulin and John Degenkolb as parts of Kittel’s sprint train.
The most impressive part for me was the famous takedown of Tom Veleers by Mark Cavendish in full sprint. The aftershock of Cavendish apologizing via Twitter, but not willing to meet Tom face to face is shown in great detail.
Tom Veleers hits the deck hard after Mark Cavendish changes sprint line. Click on the photo for youtube footage.
One of the OG freeride mountain bike movies on a larger budget. This movie predates the wide acceptance of action cameras, so the directors got very creative. Cameramen hanging from zip lines, setting up rails in the forest. It’s all amazing. Watch this trailer first to get an idea of the behind the scenes work involved in making one of the best freeride films in history: https://youtu.be/bjuAUTarbdA
Here’s a look into the heart of Flanders. It’s known fact that Belgium has cycling flowing through its veins. The 9 episode series was shown on national television, telling stories about the lives of several families on the day of the 2010 Tour of Flanders. It’s dark humor, mixed with touching stories and amazing cycling footage. The directors had access to place cameras in several team cars and got the Sporza presenters to act in the show. Everything just flows perfectly between the race footage and the fictional story. The first episode is a bit slow and many characters are introduced, but as soon as the race kicks off it’s al gogogo. Subtitles are available on youtube.
Disclaimer: European TV is very liberal. Even though this show was broadcasted on national tv at 8pm, please don’t come knocking on the Kogel Bearings HQ door if you’re offended by images that would have to be shown on HBO in the US.
Lookalike Eddy Merckx
Part of a reality show called Superfans, Frans is not a fan of Eddy Merckx, he thinks he IS Eddy Merckx. The two clips kick off with Frans mixing raw egg and Flemish sour beer for breakfast, just like Eddy. Frans shows his Eddy Merckx replica bikes and jerseys and how he rides the indoor trainer like Eddy. The second clip shows Lookalike Eddy gluing a tubular in 30 seconds, racing his orange bike across the cobbles just like… well you get the idea. Unfortunately, no subtitles on these clips, so you will have to sit through the parts of the wife frustratedly saying ‘I married Frans, not Eddy’, but it’s a good watch.
The same Superfans series followed fans of Sven Nys and how they dedicate their lives to chasing their hero to the races and on training loops. I’m sure you can find it with a Google search.
Frans truly believes he is Eddy Merckx. Follow this link for a bonus feature of lookalike Eddy celebrating the Cannibal’s 70th birthday.
Ride the Divide (available on amazon prime for a few bucks)
The longest mountain bike race in the world stretches 2700 miles from Canada to Mexico, following the Rocky Mountains. The race is non-stop, so whoever sleeps is losing time. Brutal! The race footage is good (don’t expect any Nino Schurter speed climbing or artificial rock gardens), but the scenery is the real winner here.
I hope this is enough footage to pull you off Zwift Island or the Sufferfest videos when its time to cruise through a snow storm.