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Ride the Divide Makes the Grade

Alex Kilpatrick | Friday, January 28, 2011

“Ride the Divide” chronicles the story of three mountain bikers pedaling their way from Banff, Canada, to the Mexican border. The documentary film, directed by Hunter Weeks and Mike Dion, recently won “Best Adventure Film” at the 2010 Vail Film Festival in Colorado.

The film, currently on its Midwest mid-winter tour, will make an appearance in South Bend Sunday at Notre Dame’s Eck Visitors Center. With stunning cinematography, the movie quickly entered into the realm of cycling classics and first premiered on the Documentary Channel back in September.

Three characters relay their experiences of participating in the world’s most difficult mountain bike race, the 2,711-mile Tour Divide, spanning along the Continental Divide in the Rocky Mountains. Mike is a 40-year-old family man who embarks on the challenge in order to find new meaning in his life. In contrast, Matthew is an experienced leader in extreme endurance racing and a five-time competitor in the Tour Divide. Mary, on the other hand, is the first female cyclist to participate in the bike race. The documentary is about the accomplishments of these three cyclists as they attempt to race a route that very few have been able to complete.

Over the mere time frame of a few weeks, Mike, Matthew and Mary climb more than 200,000 vertical feet on their bikes over the mountain range — the equivalent of ascending Mount Everest from sea level seven times over. The feat of the physical journey is as straining as that of the mental and emotional one. The characters are put to the test as they experience debilitating fatigue, mental breakdowns, extreme amounts of snow and complete isolation. Such tests of the mind and body, as well as the characters’ accomplishments, allow the viewers to reflect on the documentary’s ultimate message of living life to the fullest.

The film’s soundtrack is currently on sale on the documentary’s official website. The movie features music from folk rock musician Dominique Fraissard, Queens-based post rock band The American Dollar, and indie singer songwriter Amy Petty.

Proceeds from the film benefit LIVESTRONG, Lance Armstrong’s nonprofit organization that provides support for cancer sufferers and their families. See a special screening of the award winning documentary “Ride the Divide” at the Eck Visitor’s Center this Sunday night at 7 p.m. Tickets are $15 at the door and $10 in advance.