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Hardihood Cover Hardihood

★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

Hardihood starts slow, but stick with it. This documentary traces the long, sometimes tedious week in the professional women’s downhill mountain biking circuit. The rigors of travel and the need to re-hydrate are covered on Monday, followed by relaxation on Tuesday. But the week builds up to practicing on the race course on Saturday and the race itself on Sunday.

Although downhill mountain biking is dominated by macho daredevils, we see that the gals can be as tough, fearless and crazy as the guys. They train hard and fly down steep, muddy trails at 50 miles per hour.

Do not expect, however, a raw bike-racing film, with spills and thrills to blaring music, as is typical of movies about male extreme sports. Instead, this niche film portrays the lifestyles and feelings of women in this punishing sport. As such, the primary audience is women who race or are thinking about racing.

But Hardihood can also teach the rest of us about this little-known world. Our guide is Jacquie Phelan, winner of several national downhill championships in the 1980s and founder of the Women’s Mountain Bike and Tea Society, which supports women in cycling, especially off-road. Phelan also founded the National Off-Road Bicycle Association, which governs professional mountain bike racing. Hardihood lacks dramatic focus, but Phelan offers advice about cycling – and life – with humor and grace.

The film has an amateur feel and bounces around, figuratively and literally. It leaps from mentoring young racers to cooking tips; meanwhile, the handheld camera is often focused on peoples’ hands or the backs of their heads. Nevertheless, Hardihood deserves credit for exhorting women riders to hop in the saddle, get into the mud and tackle their fears.

Title: Hardihood
Year Released: 2002
Duration: 75 minutes
Language: English
Bike Content: 8/10 wheels

Posted by Greg Borzo on 09/03 at 10:06 PM