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Documentary depicts epic bike race

The film “Ride the Divide” documents the personal stories of three individuals out of a total 16 who attempt a mountain bike race along the Continental Divide. The trail spans more than 2,700 miles and winds through the Rocky Mountains. At the 2010 Vail Film Festival, “Ride the Divide” won the Best Adventure Film award. It is now being shown across the nation, and the Midwest tour viewings will begin at COSI on Monday.

“We are excited to be coming to Columbus and kicking off our Midwest tour there,” said Garry Harrington, the spokesman for the event. Harrington said he is enthusiastic about the tour starting point because he heard there were many OSU students who enjoyed cycling.

OSU has a cycling club that has about 30 members, said Blake Wehlage, a third-year in international studies and vice president of the club.

Wehlage saw “Ride the Divide” and said the film is intense.

“Being out that long for that many days on your bike by yourself, there are some serious revelations going on in your head,” he said.

Wehlage said the film is not just for avid riders.

“I don’t mountain bike, but I can understand what they go through,” he said.

Benjamin Padilla, a graduate student in environment and natural resources, rides with the OSU cycling club and has seen the movie as well. He said the race the film chronicles is “often described as the most grueling mountain bike race in the world.”

Mike Dion, a co-star in the film and the producer, agreed. One of the most difficult parts about racing is being self-sufficient, Dion said.

“If your bike breaks, you’re responsible for fixing it,” he said.

Dion said the race sometimes involved “sleeping in a ditch on the side of the road,” and said “the mental hardship becomes a whole lot worse than the physical hardship after a while.”

He said the solitude is inevitable because the trail is so long, and said “getting lost in your head” can be brutal.

“By day three or four everyone is so spread out with their own pacing, so you’re doing this more or less by yourself,” he said.

He said he understands why people attempt this race despite the hardships.

“Once someone creates the longest off-road route in the world, you’ve got people who are going to see how fast they can do it,” he said.  

For Dion, it was more about self-discovery.

“I was turning 40 the year that we did this, and I was looking for something new, and different and epic,” he said. He laughed and said it could be categorized as a “midlife crisis.”

Dion said he felt like he was a part of something magnificent, midlife crisis or not.

“The best part is the beauty, and getting away from cities and corporate life.” He warned that the beauty doesn’t eliminate the reality of the ride, however, and said “generally a little bit more than half of the people end up not finishing.”

“Ride the Divide” will show at 7 p.m. at COSI. Tickets are $15 at the door, $10 before the event at imathlete.com.

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