Movies about mountain biking are usually pretty predictable. Start with an interview/profile of a tatted up rider, show him/her do some gnarly jumps, and end with “outtakes” of said rider taking some nasty falls. Score the film with a little punk or heavy metal and you’ve got yourself a legitimate mountain bike movie ready for the 12-18 year old male demographic.
But 24 Solo isn’t your typical mountain bike movie. In fact, it’s a real movie with a riveting plotline, likeable characters, and professional cinematography that would make even Steven Spielberg jealous. And it’s about mountain biking.
24 Solo is the documentary about Chris Eatough, 6-time 24-solo mountain bike world champion and his quest for a seventh title at the 24 Hours of Adrenaline at the Georgia International Horse Park in Conyers, GA (site of the 1996 Olympic mountain bike competition). The film opens with Chris going to China for a mountain bike race where we get a good glimpse of Chris’s positive attitude and his ability to relate to the kids who are his fans. I was personally amazed at all the sacrifices and hard work that it takes to be a pro mountain biker, so much so that I think I may need to reconsider my own dream of MTB stardom ;). The point is the lifestyle isn’t all rad downhills and glamorous endorsement deals, despite what you see on MTV.
The bulk of the film covers the world championship race at Conyers and, suffice it to say, the competition becomes intense. In fact I’d say the excitement in this part of the film rivals Chariots of Fire (which admittedly I never really got) and Prefontaine (which I did get and I loved). Like these films the story is inspirational, entertaining, and most importantly, it’s real.
The movie feels so real that watching 24 Solo I almost felt as if I knew Chris and his race manager and even members of the film crew. Everyone in the group seemed like fun guys who would be great to meet at the local trailhead or perhaps to catch up with over a beer. Chris’s love for mountain biking and competition is contagious and the film does an amazing job bringing Chris and his story to life.
24 Solo is a seriously great movie that will appeal to everyone – mountain bikers and non-bikers alike. The universal story about competition, sacrifice, and excellence is much bigger than a single sport or event and in the end, 24 Solo really isn’t about the bike (as cliche as that may sound). Move over Back to the Future – 24 Solo just jumped into my top 10 list.
If 24 Solo didn’t make it to a theater in your area, look for the DVD coming in late May.