If you go
What: Ride the Divide
When: 7 p.m. Saturday; doors open at 6
Where: Boulder Theater
CORRECTION 5/18/10: This story incorrectly reported how much climbing is documented in the film “Ride the Divide.” The cyclists climb 200,000 vertical feet.
A major distraction in the filmmaker’s cubicle led to the film “Ride the Divide.”
Mike Dion, of Lakewood, started listening to online audio posts from cyclists in the Tour Divide, a 2,745-mile mountain-bike race across the Rockies from Banff, Alberta, to the southern tail of New Mexico.
Listening to the calls — which turn into rider diaries as the tour wears on through two provinces, five states and 200,000 vertical feet of climbing — from his cubicle at a film-production company, Dion made a decision.
“I said, ‘One day, I will do this,'” he said. “That’s what sucked me into it.”
He made an agreement with his family to take time off in 2008 to ride the tour, and being a filmmaker, planned to make a home movie of his grueling experience on the longest mountain-bike race in the world. But before long, he had a budget to make a documentary film and a director, Hunter Weeks, of Denver.
Their film, “Ride the Divide,” shows Saturday night at the Boulder Theater.
Dion said he grew up in Montana riding BMX and as an adult was always going off on long weekend rides here in Colorado, but he never considered himself a racer.
“I’ve done the Leadville 100 in the past, and that was my biggest, longest organized event,” he said.
The Tour Divide is both physically and mentally taxing, he said.
“Once you get into a rhythm, by Day 4, Day 5, your body starts acclimating, getting used to what you’re asking it to do,” Dion said.
After that, it becomes about the mental hardship, he said.
The route starts in the Canadian Rockies and heads south, mostly on dirt and jeep roads along the Continental Divide. Riders are entirely self-supported and must navigate on their own. They camp in bear country, posthole through snow over high passes and sometimes ride more than 100 miles between towns before a re-supply stop.
The film follows Dion and two other riders: one is a frequent endurance racer and Tour Divide favorite; the other hopes to be the first woman to complete the ride.
Weeks, the director, said the riders were inspiring, but he sometimes worried about them. While waiting for a rider to come through to get a shot in New Mexico, a huge bear wandered into the scene.
“I can load my stuff into the Jeep,” he said. “As a cyclist doing that race, you’re going to be a lot more vulnerable.”
“It’s kind of the Wild West,” Dion said. “It’s purposely off the beaten path, and you’re finding fantastic places, and the people that you’re running into in some of these towns.”
“On the surface, it’s a film about the toughest mountain-bike race in the world, but what really comes through, what’s underlying is the adventure and the journey in the Rocky Mountains.”
Boulder Mountainbike Alliance President Jason Vogel, who helped bring the film to Boulder Theater (Saturday’s show benefits the alliance), said any type of cyclist will appreciate the challenge that the Tour Divide riders take on.
“That’s something that all riders can understand and sympathize with, and maybe it will speak to people in a different way,” he said.