Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Ciao, Papa

I just learned that Peter Yates, british-born director of the 1979 movie Breaking Away died on Sunday.
As I've continued this blog over the past year, I've tried to steer away from things that have to do with me personally.  Why?  Well, mostly because I'm an incredibly boring individual.  However today, I'm going to bend my self-imposed rule just a bit, not because I think anyone will really find it interesting, but because I'm feeling all nostalgic suddenly.  Consider it my "Clark Griswold-stuck-in-the-attic-watching-old-family-movies-moment."

When I was a kid, two of my more favorite things to do were to watch movies and to ride my bike.  It was just about 1978 when my parents got me my first real bike, a Huffy Thunder Road.
It wasn't long after that that my family went to see Breaking Away.  The only scene I remembered as a kid was when Dave races against Team Cinzano outside Indianapolis. 

This scene was most memorable to me for two reasons, I think.  #1) Although it was just a Hollywood moment, it was the first bike race I had ever seen, and #2) I had just had my ass kicked by a kid named Tom C. on the playground because he didn't like my plaid pants....(yeah - my mother dressed me funny).
This is the exact kind of shit my mother would love to buy for me.

Anyway - I've watched Breaking Away many, many times since and every time I see it, it means something new to me.  Sometimes I watch it from the standpoint of Mike, Dave's angry friend who starts craving the glory days only a few months after graduation. Sometimes I watch it through the eyes of Dave's Dad who revels in his own crankiness ("REFUND???"). And sometimes I watch it from the standpoint of Dave's Mom who gets a US passport not for travelling abroad, but just in case the checkout lady at the grocery store asks her for identification one day, she can appear like a world traveler.  But mostly I watch it from the standpoint of Dave who is constantly fighting who he is, craving to be something he's not, and coming to terms with something somewhere in between.
One of my favorite scenes:

I've discussed a number of times with a lot of different people what the best "cycling movie" is, documentaries not included.  I always respond Breaking Away, probably because it's not about cycling at all.  Its greatness transcends cycling, just like the beauty of cycling transcends the actual bike.  Thanks, Pete.


  1. Wow! Today's post was 'poo-rific.'

  2. Nice post, great movie. Definitely one of the best. I only hope there's another great cycling movie in the near future.

  3. I want to thank you for the nostalgic trip. I wanted to show my 7 year old grandson a picture of my first bike. The Huffy Thunder Road. Google brought me here. Thanks again.