Last night, I stayed a bit late at work and then walked down into Bethesda to see Off Road To Athens, a documentary about the selection of the mountain bikers that represented the U.S. in the 2004 Olympics. The film was visually excellent, all the more so for being shot on “mostly” one camera. I’m not sure I’d believe that if it wasn’t the director saying it; the race scenes all featured shots from multiple positions along the courses. Somebody must have been running around the course like mad to get those shots.

Better than the raw film-making, however, is the story. Arcane, never-fully-explained rules about how many people the US can send to Athens create a situation where the competition to qualify for the team becomes all-consuming for the small community of potential qualifiers, even to the point where they’re not effectively training to compete in the Olympics because they’re working too hard trying to get selected to go to the Olympics.

The film is currently “on tour”; show dates available at the site. Highly recommended if you get a chance to see it.

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