“My life needed a re-charge and a little bike therapy was in order.”
This is one of the early lines in this five minute masterpiece of emotion and honesty from filmmaker/cyclist/philosopher Ryan Van Duzer; and it’s a great line that quickly sets up what many of us know; namely that being in the saddle gives us a fresh perspective nearly impossible to capture by any other means.
Ryan’s film gets me every time with its’ simple mastery of expressive cinema. Every shot feels right, every thought feels apt, and the people we meet are kindred souls on a journey to the heart. Many try to capture the essence of bike travel but few hit the mark. Trust me, I watch a lot of cycling films. In these short five minutes Ryan spells out an opera of truth.
I never met Ryan face to face but I feel his soul, I feel his spirit. We’ve talked on the phone and he spoke at a screening of Bicycle Dreams in Colorado, but we all know the rare individual like Ryan. The guy or gal who stands out, pedals to the beat of a different drummer, the Walt Whitman of wheels.
Watching Live.Love.Bike opens much for me. I think of how cyclists are the modern-day stand-ins for the nature poets of previous centuries. Wordsworth, Coleridge, Emerson, and Thoreau have nothing on every John or Jane who goes outside and rides their way into harmony with nature and the creatures upon this beautiful blue and green orb we call home.
And the stories of the road that they bring back, well, they’re reminiscent of old heroes like Jack Kerouac and Henry Miller, except our storyteller cyclists aren’t high or drunk, and it’s not about getting ‘outside of ones’ self, it’s quite the opposite, its about finding beauty everywhere, and most of all, in the hearts and smiles of sudden friends who were strangers only seconds ago.
The ‘kicks’ are there, just like they were for “the beat poets,” but they’re not found in drunken jazz nights of mad saxophone solos. No these “kicks” are embraced in every surprise discovered around the bend, surprises and miracles we never would have noticed behind the wheel of cars of steel.
It’s about finding yourself, a “self’ that was never really lost, just buried and hidden beneath the lack on contact with what’s real.
Yes, this short film conjures magic. And I leave you with another wisdom pearl discovered by Ryan on his journey….
“I met so many wonderful people on this journey and their endless amounts of kindness and generosity solidified my belief that there is a lot more good in this world than bad.”
What a pure and beautiful five minutes.