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6 Day Bike Rider Cover 6 Day Bike Rider

★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

6 Day Bike Rider is a screwball comedy about a local yokel who takes on a slick out-of-towner. They compete in a six-day race – and for the town belle.

The best part of this film is not the characters (dorky), the acting (stilted) or the story (bland). It’s the way it portrays and thereby preserves an obscure event called the six-day bike race, a form of track racing that started in England in the 1870s and was popular in the U.S. from the 1890s to the 1930s. It’s still found in Europe, especially Belgium and Germany.

A six-day race runs Monday through Saturday, Sunday being preserved for prayer. Initially, individual riders cycled virtually nonstop, eating and resting as little as possible. Prizes and bonuses were offered to inject drama throughout the race, and spectators gambled on the results.

Such a cruel endurance test broke down many riders, some of whom hallucinated and/or crashed. Many states banned the one-man, nonstop format so tracks introduced a team approach and limited the race to six evenings in a row. The film weaves in newsreels from Madison Square Garden, the U.S. Mecca for six-day races.

The star, Joe E. Brown, was quite a draw in his day and appeared in more than 70 films. Brown strikes many as a corny version of Buster Keaton. In this film he has some Chaplinesque moments, but many of his bike tricks were performed by a stunt double.

The raucous 6 Day Bike Rider harkens back to a time when track racing was more popular in the United States than baseball; when it came as no surprise that a major motion picture would feature the antics of a bike nerd; and when, at the end of a movie, the lead could ride off into the sunset on a bike.

Title: 6 Day Bike Rider
Year Released: 1934
Duration: 69 minutes
Language: English
Bike Content: 9/10 wheels

Posted by Greg Borzo on 09/03 at 09:59 PM