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The Hard Road Reviews: Ryan Barrett, Vaughn Trevi, Locutus
 
By Janna Trevisanut
Date: 3/14/2003
The Hard Road Reviews: Ryan Barrett, Vaughn Trevi, Locutus
 

The Hard Road - Feature Length Cycling Documentary

Review by Vaughn Trevi

The Hard Road is a movie that succeeds at many levels. Out of the gate it communicates not only how and what professional cycling is but imparts the essence of the passion, not only for the sport, but of the riders and fans as well.

You may have heard it is a documentary; it is. The highest compliment I can give is that five minutes into the film you will forget you ever heard that label. Bring a seat belt and strap yourself in for almost two hours of racing the pro circuit with a two veteran pro riders guiding their neopro team in its first season in the pro ranks. Follow the team from the first spring classic to the last race in fall. Come along on a season of suffering, disappointments, trials and victories. This is the real stuff, the deep down grit that moves every rider to work harder, dig deeper and reach for the ultimate performance: this is pro racing!

On another level, the movie not only explains, but also demonstrates, that cycling is a team sport, second to none in tactics, excitement and speed. More than just a look at one team, it is an inside look at what drives the peloton and the day to day sacrifices the riders and their families make to train, travel and race for a full professional season. What Jamie Paolinetti does best with this film is communicate. He communicates his own passion for pro cycling, to devotees of cycling and novices alike, with a movie that entertains and enlightens. Best of all, his passion may be contagious!

Two thumbs up! Five stars! Bring your Mum, she will finally understand!


Review by Ryan Barrett

Saturday March 8 2003 was the premiere of The Hard Road, a documentary about the fledgling pro cycling team  NetZero, of which I was lucky enough to be a part. The premiere was held at the Oakley "Interplanetary Headquarters", which is like a cross between the "Bat Cave" and "Dr. Evil's Lair"; pretty much the coolest building I've ever been in. The night began with a lot of schmoozing at the pre-movie party, and it was great to catch up with some people I'd been out of touch with.

From there, we were filed into the theatre, (Yeah, Oakley has it's own theatre with seating for 450 people. Pretty cool, huh?), and the show started. The movie takes an in-depth look at the struggles and sacrifices of each member of the team throughout the course of the season. I won't go into too much detail about the film, but if you are interested in bike racing (and since you're reading www.dailypeloton.com, I assume you are), you should see it.

Actually, it's about a lot more than bike racing. It is definitely the most accurate depiction of what life is like for a struggling cyclist I have seen, but also gives the perspectives of the family members of NetZero racers, which is probably my favorite part. Watching the film brought back a lot of the emotion from that year, especially given my recent decision to put pro bike racing on the back-burner to pursue a "real job."

The film was written, directed, and edited by NetZero team captain Jamie Paolinetti. If that sounds like a lot of work for one guy, I can vouch for the fact that he pretty much didn't sleep throughout the process of making the movie. Check out www.thehardroad.com.

Ryan Barrett has ridden for the NetZero and Schroeder Iron Pro Cycling Teams, as well as the US National Team. He is currently racing regionally and (desperately) looking for full-time employment. He also likes to write about himself in the third person. Contact Ryan at turbo_ryan@hotmail.com.


Review by Locutus

In the five months since I viewed the rough cut of this film at the San Francisco Grand Prix, Jamie Paolinetti has turned it from a meandering but endearing view of the lives of Division III professional cyclists into an extremely tight documentary about the nature of the sport itself. This film is unique: it introduces neophytes to the world of professional cycling through explaining simple cycling concepts, but contains enough gritty, behind-the-scenes detail to please even the most elitist and experienced cycling aficionado. The narrative covers a year in the life of the 2001 NetZero cycling team, but it also serves as an exploration of the economics and politics of the American cycling scene. Through his depiction of the family trauma, the physical pain, and the good humor of his subjects, Paolinetti gives us the first truly accurate filmic portrait of life as an American cyclist.

The first segment of the film is a bit jarring: the early Spring season flies by with a series of voice-overs, ellipses, and fast edits that left my head spinning. At first I was worried that perhaps Paolinetti had cut too much from the rough version, and that the heart of the film—the portraits of the Division III riders themselves—had been sacrificed for the sake of a more fast-paced narrative. As the rapid-fire sequence came to a close, however, I realized that Paolinetti had achieved a very calculated effect: he had reproduced in the audience the sense of vertigo, pressure, and moderate frustration that the cyclists themselves were experiencing as they got shelled by bigger teams in their early races. As the riders start to find success, the narrative slows down and allows the audience members to get oriented through a more careful look at the lives of the riders themselves.

This is the true strength of this film: once it hits its stride, it manages to blend the drama of the races and the drama of the riders' personal lives into a seamless and powerful whole. As the riders progress through the race calendar, the race footage is intercut with their personal stories such that it is clear what is at stake for each of them when they hit the road. With interviews from young pros like Jason Bausch to grizzled veterans like Graeme Millar and Frankie Andreu, Paolinetti manages to give a complete picture of the sport that is still struggling for acceptance in the United States. If this film receives the distribution and the publicity that it deserves, it could serve as a major force in advancing the cause of cycling in America. While I hope to see it in theaters and on television, I can't wait until this film comes out on video so that I can give copies to my family and non-cycling friends. Maybe then they'll understand why I get up at 6 am for weeks on end just to watch races half a world away, and why I can sit and watch grown men and women ride their bikes in a big circle all day long.


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