I saw the Winnipeg premiere of “Pro, A Feature Documentary” last night at the Imax theater in Portage Place. Woodcock Cycle, had promoted it at their store, on their web site, and through the Manitoba Cycling Association. The theater was nearly full, and I think most of the audience were fairly dedicated cyclists.
One criticism of the presentation by Woodcock – this movie wasn’t shot for Imax. It was shot for theatrical release and home viewing on DVD. The picture resolution wasn’t great and some of the scenes basically induced vertigo on the big screen. Paddle Manitoba has shown its annual film festivals at the Armed Forces base theater and that may be a better kind of venue. Otherwise, they had a nice set up – some finger foods, door prizes, a friendly introduction to the movie as a promotion for cycling in Winnipeg, with encouragement to come out and join some regular club rides. The speaker was the manager (owner?) of Woodcock and he mentioned the FOG club. At first I thought I hadn’t heard of them but then Mike and Steve explained that he was talking about the Fast Old Guys Club. Pace limited to 35 kph for the first 20 kilometers? I’m not sure how fast they go. I’m that old but I’m not that fast. Well maybe I could be, on my road bike, drafting in a pack. Dreams or goals?
It was a good outing with my friends. Parts of the movie were good, but parts dragged. There were scenes of the teams talking about their race strategy which were largely impenetrable. Perhaps for someone immersed in lore of bike racing and the particular races featured in the movie would make more sense of it. All I got out of some scenes was that the money in cycling isn’t that good, and they work really hard, and that their lives are like the lives of minor league pro athletes in other sports. There were interviews with several pro riders, and I don’t think anyone except a dedicated cycling fan will find much in those scenes. The director let a number of racers talk (at length) instead nailing it with a few good scenes. Some interviews were rambles about their philosophy of cycling or why they ride, and they had a hard time explaining what motivates them to devote a large part of their lives to competing at the threshold of fame and glory. There was one good interview with a rider who had sustained serious injuries, and an interview with a young rider who had been ready to give up after 5 years in Division 3 before getting a shot with the UPS team. A couple of experienced pros talked about opening spaces in the pack and how racing becomes collaborative in order to let riders conserve energy for the end of the race. There were discussions of how teams employ riders to set pace – and burn themselves out to carry other team members to the finish. The coverage of the big race in Philadelpia was good in explaining how that race was run by different teams and explaining the strategies of competitive team cycling.
I think it’s a specialty movie, and I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone who isn’t interested in cycling or in sports psychology. But it was a good outing and interesting to me.