Andrel Reid takes his fixed-gear bicycle for a spin
Paul Baker/the Gauntlet

Cycling culture makes a trip to the movies

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Cycling is not just a pastime or a form of transportation-- it's a culture. There is an unwritten bond between cyclists of all ages and disciplines, something indescribable to most motorists and pedestrians. Many participate in the sport by competing in races or helping those who are getting started learn more.

Calgary cycling enthusiast Andrel Reid funneled his love of the activity into a movie series, bringing some well-regarded bike films to the city's big screens for the first time. Reid explains that the project is a natural fit for him and his role in the cycling community.

"I've grown up in a family of cyclists and in bike shops my whole life and me not being the competitive one out of all of them, I've always found other ways to be involved in the sport, whether it be organizing races or designing trails," he says. "In the spring, I brought a mountain bike film to Calgary in May and it was one of the biggest cycling films of the year and showed it at the Plaza and I had lots of people really liking it, so I sort of got the bug to do more."

After showing The Way Bobby Sees It, a doc about a blind downhill cyclist Aug. 24, Reid is bringing The Six Day Bicycle Race to the Plaza theatre Sept. 7. The historical documentary details the story of stamina-testing, six-day-long bike races done in velodromes from the 1930s to the 1950s.

"If you look at a lot of the track racing they do these days, they have all the exact same events as they did back then in the '30s and the bikes they are riding now are identical and they haven't changed in about 100 years," Reid says. "The racers back then would make more money in six days than their father could make in years, which is pretty wild."

In addition to trying to raise awareness about cycling in Calgary, Reid is using the opportunity to raise money for some very worthy causes, some of which are very close to his heart.

"I looked into some people in my life that could benefit from this," he explains. "With the International Mountain Biking Association, I've always been involved in mountain biking, so I thought this would be a good thing to try out. The Way Bobby Sees It had half of the ticket sales donated to Diabetes Canada and the Canadian Paralympics Association. My father has diabetes and my cousin is on the Canadian Disabled Ski Team. Half of the profits from The Six Day Bicycle Race are going to the MS Society. Every year, the MS Society does a 15 kilometre ride in almost every province, so it's nice to donate it to them as well."

Reid hopes to continue the cycling film series in the spring as cyclists tune up their bikes in preparation for the riding season and sees a future for the films, filling a long-empty niche in Calgary's growing cycling culture.

"I've gotten a lot of people who are quite interested in it," he says. "Every fall, you see a bunch of ski films come into town, but no one ever sees a bunch of cycling films come out, so it's something to get people out there and stoked about the sport. It's also to deal with the fall doldrums, when people don't want to put their bikes away."