Let's face it, the Coronavirus crisis sucks. Lockdown, whilst vital to stop the spread of the disease, means we can't go outside and ride our bikes with our friends, However this extra time does provide hours and hours to scour the internet for awesome cycling videos to try to fill that hole. Well we've done the scouring for you, and compiled a list of our favourite cycling films and documentaries that are currently available on Youtube.
This is, or was supposed to be, purely a list of cycling documentaries on Youtube, hence no Breaking Away (I know right!). We have deviated from the Youtube only rule however to include some great women's cycling content. There is frankly sod all on Youtube, and we'll be damned if we're going to let that stop us. So for some of the entries you can watch the trailer on youtube and the full film by following the links.
We hope you enjoy them - please add your own suggestions in the comments, or berate us on social media (@dirtywknd).
A Sunday In Hell
The gold standard of cycling documentaries. Some may argue this is a film, but for the purposes of this list we're saying it's a doc. Either way it's brilliant and a must watch. Whether you've heard of Merckx, De Vlaeminck, Maertens or Moser before, this Danish film is about the 1976 Paris Roubaix, the queen of the classics.
This race, and these men, make up the kind of cycling lore that gets old school roadies all misty eyed, talking about how the sport was 'just better back then'. It's a great race, but the best bits of the film are the footage of fans by the side of the road, the 'backstage' view of the riders and even the protesters who halt the race for a bit. It's a window into a different time, and the romanticised view of cycling that is still so popular today.
Lance Armstrong - Road To Paris
Raised eyebrows. Some will stop reading right here, and be angry for the rest of the day. Such is the strength of feeling when it comes to the Texan. Try as you might however, no one can deny that the Armstrong era happened, and no list of cycling documentaries would be complete without him.
The great thing about the Road to Paris is that it is made by Armstrong and his team, specifically by Nike, one of his biggest sponsors. So this doc can be viewed entirely as a piece of propaganda; as the viewpoint that they wanted us to see. Knowing what we know now, the viewer can 'read between the lines' and imagine all of the things we didn't get to see as US Postal Service train for the 2001 Tour de France.
Watch it with open eyes, as it's really quite an entertaining cycling documentary. Then watch all the other millions of Armstrong docs on Youtube (Stop At Nothing is great) and make up your own mind.
Half The Road
Sadly, all we can get on Youtube of this excellent women's cycling documentary is the extended trailer, which is completely typical of the cycling scene. Endless men's pro videos, a couple of trailers for women's cycling!
Half The Road is an incredibly important film, as it brings together many of the top women in cycling & triathlon, as well as past trailblazers, to discuss the state of women's cycling in 2014. It also follows director and athlete Kathryn Bertine as she tries to qualify for the 2012 Olympic Road Race.
Check out the trailer below, and all the film details (and download) here.
Pantani - The Accidental Death Of A Cyclist
If the 90s was cycling's rock n roll era, then Marco Pantani was the Keith Richards of the Peloton. Il Pirata ('The Pirate") was a deeply troubled man, but an almost perfect climber, daredevil descender and incredibly entertaining bike rider to watch who captured the hearts of so many fans.
This documentary looks at Pantani the cyclist, Pantani the man, and also the 90s professional cycling scene that helped lead to his demise. After winning the Giro & Tour in '98, Pantani was kicked out of the Giro the following year due to 'irregular blood values' and spiralled into depression, leading to his death from acute cocaine poisoning in 2004.
The documentary got mixed reviews for having a soft view on the doping side of Pantani's career, preferring to focus on his achievements and the romanticised hero of Italian cycling. Whatever your take, it's a fascinating view of a time in cycling that will (hopefully) never be repeated again, and a biopic of a character the like of which no longer exists in the pro peloton.
In this award-winning film, Rebecca Rusch cycles 1,930km along the Ho Chi Minh Trail through the jungles of Vietnam. The goal is to reach the site where her father, a US Air Force pilot, was shot down in Laos more than 40 years earlier. Queue amazing off-road trails and plenty of emotional scenes.
As with so many long distance trips, this one is as much about the ride as it is the reason for riding. However the film perfectly captures the sense of immersing yourself in a country and giving in to the journey.
We're cheating slightly too, as the full film isn't on Youtube. But as mentioned we're struggling for female youtube content here, so hopefully you'll forgive us. Watch the trailer below, and the full film on Red Bull TV.
British Cycling - Road To Glory
The success of British Cycling and Team Sky has come to define the men's professional cycling scene of 2012 until today. With more Grand Tour wins than any other team, and more olympic medals than ay other nation, GB have been the most successful nation in cycling for the last 10 years.
This 5 part documentary goes behind the scenes at British Cycling and Team Sky as they plan, prepare for and dominate the London Olympics and 2012 Tour de France. Watch part 1 below, before devouring the rest in one sitting! Perfect quarantine content.
In 2017, Rickie Cotter and Lee Craigie rode the Tour Divide, a 2745 mile self-supported mountain bike race from Canada to the Mexican border. Shot entirely using a Go Pro and an iPhone, this film documents the journey the two friends made in a way The Adventure Syndicate hope inspires and encourages the watcher to get out there and have their own adventure.
Fear of failure can stop all sorts of adventures before they even start but what if failing is the best part? Again this isn't available in full on youtube, you'll have to rent it on Vimeo for a fiver. But it's definitely worth it. Any profits made from this film go back into The Adventure Syndicate; a not-for-profit social enterprise that creates inspiring online content and delivers hands on training to some of the most marginalised people.
Watch the trailer below, and then download the full film here.
I Just Want To Ride
Another addition from the The Tour Divide Mountain Bike Race, this one very popular on Twitter after we asked for recommendations for women's cycling films. We could hardly omit it based on our Twitter's fierce promotion of it, but we've now watched it and can confirm it's well worth it.
Follow Lael Wilcox as she attempts to become the first female winner of the race. Starting in Banff, Canada and riding 2750 miles of dirt, gravel and snow all the way to the Mexico border! It's a great insight into the warmth and friendliness of the ultra MTB community, as well as the extreme solo challenge that Lael takes on.
You know all the millions of gravel films there are now, where dudes ride off to know where for no apparent reason and film it for their Youtube channel? Yeah, well Thereabouts was basically the start of this. The Morton bros ride 2000km to the centre of Australia. Just for the hell of it. As with all of these types of docs, they learn a whole lot about themselves along the way.
Lachlan Morton is now as famous for his long distance rides, and subsequent videos, as he is for racing professionally for EF Education First. A pro rider who doesn't really like racing bikes, Morton is an interesting character in the pro peloton, and this doc is definitely worth a watch.
Since this first film in 2013 there have been subsequent Thereabouts (and may copies), but start with the original, and then watch all the rest.
We hope you've enjoyed our little Tour de Youtube. No doubt we've missed some of your favourites so please link them in the comments below so we can watch them. I you wish t take to social media to give us a piece of your mind, then please do (@dirtywknd)