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Rec.Bicycles Frequently Asked Questions Posting Part 1/5
Section - 5.7 Bicycle Racing Movies

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Top Document: Rec.Bicycles Frequently Asked Questions Posting Part 1/5
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See reader questions & answers on this topic! - Help others by sharing your knowledge
Date: Thu, 30 Jan 1997 22:12:33 -0500


Local cyclist in a small town (townie's aka 'cutters), lives, eats, and
breathes cycling and everything else Italian, comes of age in a race
against college kids.  Based on Dave Blaze, and his experiences at Indiana
University and the Little 500.  Lots of trivia in this one, look for a
current USCF board member, a current regional USCF coach, some former

One story I had heard was that one of the plot inspirations for the race
scene in Breaking Away was Wayne Stetina. Wayne made the 1972 Olympic team
at the age of 18. According to the story, after riding in Montreal he
enrolled at IU, joined a frat, entered the Little 500 as part of his frat's
team, rode the entire race himself and won. Just like the Cutter's plan for
Dave Stohler in the movie. 

I think the term "Cutters" referred to the principle industry of the
community, which was large (building) stone quarying, or "cutting".  The
race was sponsored by a local university and there was a strong "us against
them" mind set between the University team and the non university or cutter
team.  The whole movie was loosely based on fact.  The race does in fact
still occur.  It's still the cutters against the college crowd, and I saw
it on TV about a year ago on ESPN2.  Can't for the life of me remember the
name of the university. 

Does anybody if this actually happened?

I've heard basically the same story, and I do know that Wayne (and also
Dale, I believe) went to IU and was on a frat team that won the Little 500.
However, whether he did it singly-handedly I don't know. 

I *can* tell you for a fact that if you were a decent cyclist and were
interested in attending IU, fraternities were willing to pay for your room,
board, and tuition. After the Stetina's domination, however, the rules of
the Little 500 were changed to limit it to only Cat 3 riders (there were no
Cat 4 or Cat 5 categories back then). A friendly rival of mine (Bill
Brissman) from Indy moved from Junior to Cat 3 (instead of Junior to Cat 2
like I did) just so he could pick up this "scholarship".  He had to be
careful about when and where he raced, so that he didn't draw too much
attention and get bumped up to Cat 2 against his wishes. As soon as he
graduated, he moved up to Cat 2. 

The IU alum and USCF racer who did the riding "stunts" for Dennis
Christopher (the actor who played the protagonist) is now a woman. No need
to mention his/her name. 

2 brothers, one, a former National caliber rider (Kevin Costner), and his
enthusiastic 'newbee' brother, take an adventure to the 'Hell of the West'
(aka Coors Classic) stage race.  Lots of good 'Coors Classic' footage in
this one, even Eddy Merckx makes an appearance. 

Trials and tribulations in the tough world of bicycle messengers in New
York City.  Stars Kevin Bacon, and Nelson Vails. 


A depression era bookie (Walter Matthau) gets stuck with a little girl,
left as an IOU (marker).  Only about 5 minutes of 6-day racing in this one.
The track is a portable one, built by the same builder as the portable
Atlanta Olympic Velodrome. 

A 1940's Bike messenger wins the Big 6-day race.  A hard to find BW film
from the 40's.  Lots of 6-day footage, starring era comedian, Joey Brown. 

A family in Post war Italy struggle to make a living, taking their life
savings to buy the Husband/Father a bicycle for work, only to have the bike
stolen.  Often shown at art festivals, or 'Study of film' classes.  This
film is by one of those famous 'Fellini' -types .  No racing, but lots of
old bikes, and definitely a different lifestyle, where the bike is King.
Italian with Subtitles. 


Hugo is the winningest 6 day racer in Italy, beating everyone, incuding the
Mafia's 'Fixed' riders. To stop losing gambling monies, the Mafia decides
to wear Hugo down by throwing beautiful women at him, hoping to reduce his
endurance and stamina.  This Adult movie from the late 70's was 'Competive
Cycling' magazines choice for best cycling footage in the era before
'Breaking Away'... Dubbed. 

A PBS Documentary from the Early 70's, showing the trials of the American
team at a stage race in Canada. 

BREAKING AWAY, the TV Series Shawn Cassady plays the role of Dave Stoller,
bike racer, in the TV series, based on the movie of the same name.  This
one is tough to find, as it only lasted one season in the early 80's. 

Don't forget "Pee Wee's Big Adventure" whose opening scene is Pee Wee
Herman dreaming about winning the Tour de France. 

Wasn't there a movie (french) called the Maillot Jaune? I do remember some
talk a few years past and even some speculation about a remake starring
Dustin Hoffman

Another movie filmed in New York City in the 80s was Called "Key Exchange"
with Dany Aeillo and one of the actors from "Breaking Away"

(there seems to be no dubbed version of this one - you could translate the
title to "a men's affair", maybe?)

Starring Jean-Louis Trintignant and Claude Brasseur

JL-T is an architect and joins a bicycle racing group where also a
detective (C.B) is member. he uses this friendship to cover, that he
mudered his wife. Film includes several scenes of the group's weekly race
(which also plays a part in the murderers alibi), and even the final
confrontation is not done using guns, but bikes. 

On a far tangent anyone ever see the Euro 'Vanished' (I think there was a
poor attempt at an American version with Jeff Bridges)? There was a
reference in the bizarre dialogue about Joop Zotemelk (sp?) and bicycle
racing. Never figured out what it had to do with the rest of this
disturbing film. 

Neither do I, except maybe that the Dutch couple in the French/Dutch movie
"The Vanishing" was on bicycle vaccation in France when the wife was

A PBS Documentary from the Early 70's, showing the trials of the American
team at a stage race in Canada. 

BREAKING AWAY, the TV Series Shawn Cassady plays the role of Dave Stoller,
bike racer, in the TV series, based on the movie of the same name.  This
one is tough to find, as it only lasted one season in the early 80's. 

One great movie to watch is "A Sunday In Hell 1976 Paris-Roubaix" available
from World Cycling Productions.  Not one of their regular videos, but a
real movie about pro racing. 

Yeah.. great flick, but if I remember correctly, isn't that the one with
the endless "PAREY RABO.. PAREY RABO..." chant in the background that goes
on forever? 

Of course this one is slightly disappointing after you hear all of the
build up. Another one, Stars and Water Carriers is a better movie with much
better scenes of Eddy (The Cannibal) Merckx and how he won so much.The film
shows the strain on Eddy's face and clearly shows how much effort he put
into his racing. This is a Danish documentary with added english sound
track so it sounds a bit funny, but it takes my vote for best cycling video
to date. 

John Forrest Tomlinson wrote
There was also "Key Exchange," though it might be better termed "mid-80s".
I was in it ;-)

So was Nelson "The Chettah" Vails, (a.k.a., the fastest cat in the jungle).
He races the cabbie in the opening scene. 

Nope ... that scene is from Quicksilver ... Kevin Bacon is the passenger in
cab... and the star of the movie. 

>From what I understand, he did a lot of his own stunts ... the boy could

My favorite scene was when KB was racing one of the other messengers, and
COASTED down one of the major S.F. hills on his fixed gear without brakes
... that and the freewheeling noises whenever he was riding his fixie. 

That and when Nelson shifts *from* a 14 *to* a 28 to race the cab.

Speaking of.... Doesn't Dave Stoller drop into his little ring to motorpace
the semi at the beginning of Breaking Away? 

From:    Jonathan Good <>

JOUR DE FETE is a great French film starring Jaques Tati. It's about a
bicycling postman's misadventures (Tati) as he seeks to become a faster
deliveryman (and cyclist). It is charming and absolutely hilarious, and
features exciting and ridiculous bicycle riding in almost every scene in
the film. No silly special effects here, this old film features the
actors doing all sorts of cycling feats, including "mixing it up" with a
pack of French racers on a training ride. Very hard to find, but not to
be missed if you get the chance to see it!

Also, I've seen JOEY BROWN, 6 DAY RACER, but it was just called
6 DAY RACER. (No JOEY BROWN in the title, but he is the star of the

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