Singletrack Film Night

Singletrack put on a mountain biking film night last Thursday. I went to the one they put on last year, and it was sufficiently enjoyable that I dragged a few more cycling mates along this time. It was a similar format to the previous night: two films, one more long-distance adventure-oriented, the other from the glossy jumps-and-drops-and-singletrack genre. There was also beer. Smashing.

The first film they showed, Where Are You Go, is a deliberately ragged effort, filmed on lo-fi film stock with a rough-and-ready approach to editing and narrative. There is no voiceover or host to guide the audience, the story is told by disconnected snippets of interviews with the various participants in a very laid back bike race from Cairo to Cape Town. There were a few serious competitor-types, heads-down on vaguely road-bike shaped things and aiming to be the fastest overall, but most of the riders were on more comfortable or bizarre articles (including one double-decker effort bodged together in Ethiopia), and ranged in age from adventurous young types out to discover themselves to old retired blokes avoiding having to play golf. Given the subject matter I was worried that this film would be a bit of a Gap Year Nightmare with lots of pompous waffly toss being spouted by pompous waffly tossers, but in reality it turned out to be an idiosyncratic but precisely observed, well executed film of a journey through a huge continent full of amazing stuff that just happened to involve some bikes. Ace, well worth watching.

Where The Trail Ends is right at the other end of the bike-film spectrum: stuffed full of pixel-sharp slow-motion gnar and the shredding thereof. It documents, with super-high frame-rates and ultra-high definition, a quest for novelty on the part of a handful of the usual suspects who are supposedly tired of throwing themselves off bits of Utah. There follows an hour or so of said dudes throwing themselves off bits of China, South America, Nepal and Canada instead, all of which look largely similar to the bits of Utah they were bored of. They end up declaring some hills in China the winners in the Big Piles Of Arid Dirt competition. It’s all very impressive, but desert mountains don’t exactly abound in the UK, and my aerial skills are very limited, so it’s not really relevant to my experience of riding bicycles. It’s also a bit annoying to hear some american moan about how he’s bored of pulling huge tricks on massive, empty hills in sunny, dusty Utah when you’ve squelched your face repeatedly into the mud of the soggiest year ever experienced in the Pennines. There were some entertaining crashes, and crazy people doing ridiculous jumps on bikes is always fun to see, so I’m glad I’ve watched it, but I don’t think I’d bother with it a second time.

One slightly disappointing second film notwithstanding it was a great evening overall, and if Singletrack decide to put another film night on I’ll do my best to be there and support them again.