Wheelie Great Bike Movies

When I’m not on a bike riding around and exploring I enjoy watching movies about riding around and exploring. There are lists and lists of movies about bikes. I have seen many of the ones on these assorted lists. Triplets of Belleville was a longtime favorite and it’s still in my top five, along with Breaking Away. I also really love the bike scenes in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, plus Quicksilver, E.T. and PeeWee’s Big Adventure. Yes, I realize there are more than five noted, but it’s my blog. Recently though, I’ve had to do some serious soul searching about my list. I found a movie I missed from a few years back. This gem was released in 2012. I found it on iTunes and remember hearing about it, but for whatever reason I missed out. The movie, Wadjda is my new favorite of all time — that has something to do with a bike. Actually, no, I take that back. Wadjda is brilliant and the film touched me deeply for reasons I still can’t explain. It’s not just about the bike, it’s about the freedom and opportunities it represents.

You might want to stop reading now and go watch the film, then come back and finish this post. Wadjda has become my new obsession. When we were about to rent it, I just opted to buy it instead. Again, bike movies mean exploring too and we’ve been experience more than normal amounts of rainfall which means I want to curl up on the coach and watch movies.

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In 1982 I traveled with my parents to Saudi Arabia. My dad, a college professor,  was invited by a student. We visited Riyadh, Taif and Jeddah. It was 10 days of amazing!  It was hot outside and freezing inside. The coffee and tea were sweet and the cakes and pastries looked phenomenal but tasted like sand. My favorite days were in Taif. It’s at a higher elevation and it wasn’t as hot. I was young and brash. I asked loads of questions which were laced with disrespect about how badly women were treated. I was a youngster and full of opinions. Why can’t women drive? Why would you take a second or third wife? Why were the women relegated to the kitchen when we were eating in the dining area? Our host’s wife didn’t drive and wasn’t permitted to continue her education. Tradition? That’s the party line. Don’t even get me started on voting. Of course I recall needing to cover my head. But that was 1982. Oh, wait—women did vote for the first time in 2015.

Saudi Arabian director Haifaa al-Mansour and actress Waad Mohammed pose with a bicycle on the red carpet during the premiere screening of "Wadjda" during the 69th Venice Film Festival in Venice
Saudi Arabian director Haifaa al-Mansour (R) and actress Waad Mohammed pose with a bicycle on the red carpet during the premiere screening of “Wadjda” during the 69th Venice Film Festival in Venice August 31, 2012. The movie, a story about a 11-year-old girl who dreams of owning a bicycle, is the first full-length feature ever filmed in Saudi Arabia, according to a media release. REUTERS/Max Rossi

Wadjda is about a girl who wants a bike. She’s spunky, smart and she wants to race her friend Abdullah. She makes and sells these bracelets and she sings with her mom and goes to school. She’s questioning some aspects of her life and there are things about the adults around her that are confusing. Her parents are in love, yet, the mother has not produced a male heir. Tension. But again, Wadjda wants this bike. We can all relate to that, right? She decides to enter a contest which if she wins will provide her with the money needed to buy the bike, but, but, but. But she’s a girl. Girls aren’t supposed to ride a bike, let alone want a bike. It might compromise her virginity. Plus, she’s already been rather cheeky with the principal of her school and all of this complicates the story. But you love Wadjda because she will find a way. She will study and she will persevere. Right? See I didn’t spoil the plot.

She reminds me of … the best of myself, especially at that age. I love this kid. Abdullah is also a great friend. The mom is amazing. Even the dad who loves his Wadjda is amazing, but he’s stuck in a traditional system that means he will be taking another wife despite his love for Wadjda’s drop-dead gorgeous mom.

Wadjda is an exceptional film. I loved every frame and I think you will too. The bike is freedom and there are borders that even it will have a hard time crossing. I will stifle the urge to type in all capital letters, bolded and with underlining, that this is a movie you have got to see and you have to tell your friends to see it.

One more thing: After you watch the film you will want to know more about the director Haifaa Al Mansour, read this interview.

Thank you Haifaa for this story. Thank you for Wadjda.

Happy riding and watching!

Be safe out there.
BG

 

 

 

Lighter Side of Life

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I’m not sure why people talk about as if we could change it tomorrow. We’ve had this whole time change, Daylight Savings Time, thing since 1918 and it really would take an act of Congress to change it. Regardless of whether Ben Franklin came up with it as a joke or not, it’s here. Frankly, I like it. It reminds me of everything that’s good and wonderful about waking up after the long nap of winter. Sure, we lose an hour of sleep, but we gain light and that means more time to ride my bike. It means I can dawdle a bit on that ride home. I won’t be chasing sunset.

We inch our way closer to long, hot summer days of riding. Oh, wait… that’s right. The hot, hot summer. Ugh! My favorite month for bike riding is October. That’s the best month in the Northwest since it’s a wonderful balance of cold mornings and warm afternoons. The leaves are changing and the intense rays of the summer sun are waning. However, we have to go through the dog days of summer to get to October. As Robert Frost says, “The best way out is through.”

The greatest thing about summer is getting out early and riding the day away. If the weather report says it’s going to hit 90º then I head home early before getting caught out there in the danger time. I like that I can travel with my phone and a CO2  cartridge. I can travel light and not pack for a commute but for pleasure. It’s liberating!

Running any and all errands by bike is another bonus of the summer months. I don’t even think twice about it. Need something at the store, I’m on my bike faster than a fireman  and doing whatever needs to get done.

The challenge during the summer months is that my work routine is different. I’m not commuting to and from work everyday, and I have to make a point of figuring out my routes and joining group rides to push myself. A challenge I gladly accept.

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I ride all the time, but there are months in the great Northwest that are more conducive to riding than others. What about you? Do you have a favorite month of the year for riding your bike? Tell me about it.

Have a great week out there!

Be safe, be seen.

Enjoy the light!

Bike Goddess

Sun Surprise

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I live in Washington State, and the weather in the Pacific Northwest is usually on the wet side. We get breaks, but lately it seems like the breaks are weeks apart. The last week has been rain on wet with a side of damp. It bums me out. A few days here and there are one thing, but day after day after day of the wet stuff is daunting. Add cold and wind to the conditions… and it’s enough to make me ponder the possibilities of parking the bike and commuting by car.

However, there are times when Mother Nature teases me with some sun. She reminds me that it’s just how she is. Mother Nature likes to change it up and keep me on my toes. When I start getting my gear ready and it’s obvious by the weather report that it’s going to be one of those awful days when it’s pissing rain. But I try. I think if it turns out that bad, I’ll get a bus. I hold out some tiny ray of hope that maybe, just maybe the weather will change. There are times the skies smile. There are times the sun comes out and I find myself wondering what my problem was. How could I have been such an ogre about the weather. It’s weather! I see the flowers and the air is as fresh smelling as a bakery and I think,  it wasn’t that bad.

Today was that day. The best part of the day was the ride hope with the sun on my back. The streets were damp but the sun was shining through and I felt like I was given a gift. Traffic was light and I kept pedaling and pedaling while predicting whether I’d make it home before the next storm hit.

I rolled into the garage and felt certain that the weather gods took pity on me and knew I needed a dryish ride today. I love it when they do that. I tell people I don’t mind the rain, I mind weeks of it.

Now the question in: What does the weather forecast for tomorrow look like?

 

Ride Away

I ride to work out my worries. With each revolution I get stronger in my body and soul. I gain balance and control. The air gets sweeter and a smile comes back to my face. I find myself again. I imagine the freedom of being a kid with nothing to do but pedal around waving and smiling and feeling free.

My daily commute is predictable yet miraculous. The route is nearly the same to and from school (I’m a middle school teacher/librarian), but for some reason I always see it through different eyes. I’m happy to zig and zag through the same neighborhoods and find the same people walking their dogs at almost the same time. We wave and sometimes I stop and say hi. A week ago I saw the two Scotties being walked behind this fenced area that I didn’t know you could walk through. There’s a tall wire fence. Upon closer inspection, I saw that on the left side you could get over the curb and enter the area. Apparently it’s owned by the city and  it’s a haven for mountain biking plus there’s another area even bigger two blocks east, the lady told me. I rode over there and lo’ and behold there was this dirt path. IMG_4908

I was on my Kona and the path looked better suited to a mountain bike. I have gone by this area hundreds of times and this was the first time I saw it: Bike Narnia.

Today the world was shining and bright because the sun was out for the first time in days. A friend wanted to ride home with me and then I said I’d get my mountain bike and ride partway back with her and check out the trail.

Belle is the new bike. She hasn’t even been mine for a week yet but the Trek Stache 5 is amazing! This was the first time on dirt and I felt like I was in another world. I time traveled back to when I was 10 and I rode my banana seat bike way, way out of bounds and didn’t even care if I got caught. It was worth whatever punishment. But I didn’t get busted. IMG_4973

The Stache 5 handles like she’s leading me. Despite her 3 inch tires she’s responsive and agile. I felt like she knew more about the dirt than I did and she was just telling me to trust her. The ground was wet and muddy in spots and I climbed over some big rocks and tree limbs, but the ground was dense and spongy. The disc brakes were easy to control and if anything I felt like a skilled biker as I stood up or pivoted right or left on the trail.

The best part was seeing these two kids about 8 and 10 on their BMX bikes. I moved out of the way. They thanked me and said I had a cool bike. Which of course means … I have a cool bike because kids don’t lie about that kind of thing. I followed the trail here and there and it brought me out into a neighborhood. It took me a few seconds to recognize where I was, but it was a street I had gone down but never looked into this whole fenced area.

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The thing about biking is that it can be simultaneously predictable and surprising. I like that when I’m on a bike I see things in the world with fresh eyes and I can find a renewed sense of wonder in the simplest things. I guess you can say that about running or walking or anything, but on a bike it feels like you’re flying. It’s pretty rare to see someone grimacing while riding a bike. The bike action seems to connect people with their inner youngster and you want to be friends with everyone.

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Today was amazing!

Happy trails!