Paul Andrews

For a Merry Cycling Christmas, Part II: DVDs

In Mountain Biking, Videos on December 8, 2009 at 1:20 am

Next up in our rundown of gift ideas for the wundercyclist on your list is DVDs. I love giving DVDs for Christmas, for two reasons:

1. They’re cheap. They tend to run in the $25 range. You can also, especially this time of year, pick up discount DVDs at $10 to $20. They may not be the latest releases, but chances are they’re still pretty current (i.e., released within the past year). You can find DVDs online, but as always I recommend getting them from your local bike shop. They’re a great way to strike up a conversation and get to know your shop monkeyz.

2. I can watch them before I give them away. So it’s like a present for me too. Hey, what can I say? My wife gives books for the same reason.

I should say that when it comes to DVDs, I have a decidedly mountain biking bias. (Guess what: Same thing when it comes to riding.) The last non-MTB DVD I enjoyed was MASH, a dynamite bikeumentary on the fixie scene in San Francisco. There’s a similar and much newer DVD focusing on Seattle out, called “X-TREME FAST FRIDAY,” that I haven’t seen yet. But a DVD about Seattle has to be good.

On the MTB side, here’s my recommendations:

For fun and entertainment: BARRED FOR LIFE. I’m not sure why the title here, since nobody goes to jail or even comes close to violating any law. I guess it’s supposed to be just edgy, which is fine. Since the first iteration (actually VHS) back in the day, called “Tread,” MTB DVDs have tended to possess nonsensical titles. The titles of two of my favorites, “Stripped” and “Latitudes,” (neither still available) had nothing to do with the content.

I like “Barred for Life” for a couple of reasons: the soundtrack and the cinematography. Soundtracks have thankfully progressed beyond 1) the tonsilitic punk of early days and 2) the monotonic rap of post-early days to, in “Barred’s” case, really good music. And veteran Bjorn Aunet is the gold standard for MTB producers.

For instruction: FLUIDRIDE LIKE A PRO. This is hands down the best instruction DVD out there, which admittedly isn’t saying much because there just aren’t any comparable titles. Fluidride creator Simon Lawton and freerider Lars Sternberg talk, walk and ride you through the steps of jumps, drops, cornering, braking and — most important — body position in the panoply of trail-riding techniques.

Fluidride has been out for awhile, and I’m hoping an updated version or a 2.0 sequel is on its way, but even experienced riders can learn something from this DVD. Simon recently sold his shop to focus full-time on his instruction classes, which are booked weeks in advance for the very reason that the guy really knows what he’s doing. (Disclosure: I know the Fluidride folks.)

For culture and history: KLUNKERZ. Billy Savage’s mtb documentary about the early days of Marin’s downhill scene came out more than a year ago but is the essence of timelessness. Mountain bikers of all ages and proclivities will get a big kick out of the hippie days of mtb’s font, the Repack grade above Fairfax CA.

For racing: TIPPING POINT, by Clay Porter. Porter annually documents the World Cup season, and “Tipping Point” focuses on 2008, so it’s a bit worn around the edges. But for understanding the racing scene and getting to know its leading personalities, the DVD can’t be beat. The whole world eagerly awaits a 2009 edition, which will surely build around Steve Peat’s amazing season, where he not only set the record for most World Cup wins but took home the rainbow jersey for World Champion for the first time in his storied career. Dang I wish the DVD were out. Until it appears, “Tipping Point” provides a great teaser because its primary theme is how Peaty has had to endure near-miss after near-miss year after year in the Worlds.

(Another DVD to watch for, but which isn’t available yet, is “Women of Dirt.” Finally there’s a counterpart for the women’s circuit to all the male-only DVDs over the years. Unfortunately it’ll have to fill next year’s stockings above the fireplace.)

Finally, for advocacy: FREEDOM RIDERS. We’ve reviewed and talked about this video a lot, so suffice it to say that it’s the best available for understanding tensions surrounding the freeride culture, and for providing a marvelous case study in bringing people together for mountain biking in a Wyoming community. Highly recommended.

Other titles to consider include REVOLVE, which we reviewed earlier, and DUST & BONES, the latest and supposedly last “New World Disorder” film which we haven’t seen but know enough about from the previous nine versions to figure on lots of tricks in brief cameos from famous slopestylists.

With any of these, you can’t go wrong. We leave you with BARRED FOR LIFE’s slogan, in tiny print on its case: “Buy this instead of that other DVD. Thank you.”

Now that’s what you call direct marketing!

[Note: In accordance with our expressed review policy, we purchased over the counter all above videos discussed except of course the ones we (as cited) have not yet seen.]

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  1. Fast Friday the movie sucks pretty bad. The Revival (not on DVD yet) is the closest thing to the MASH dvd. Macaframa was also a snooze fest.

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