I do not know George Hincapie. I say this because sometimes in conversations with people they assume that because of this blog I have some sort of access to people. Not so. I’ve only ridden with him in large groups and have never had a conversation with him beyond a couple of sentences.
So, I didn’t get an advance copy of the DVD. I put down my cash for it just like everyone else. The image I have of the man is the one filtered by the television screen and descriptions by fans.
Now I think I can now say I know much more about George Hincapie. After watching “A Ride With George” I really feel as though I do know him. This documentary by Plan A Films does a good job of placing George in his element – on the bike – and then getting him to open up with some good questions. I take that back… some of the most telling responses to the questions are the ones that “Big George” answers with silence.
Another interesting tactic of the film makers was to ask questions of friends and cycling personalities and then having George watch them. The camera closes in on his face as he sees the responses for the first time. This exercise offered a couple of telling glimpses into the mind of the quiet rider.
At other times it isn’t interviews he watches but clips of his past exploits — and heart breaks — on the bike. By this time you have learned enough about him to pick up the shades of emotion that move across his features. Before the movie is over, you feel those emotions yourself — at least you will if you have had any experience on the bike.
Was there anything about the presentation that I did not like? Well, I didn’t really see the need to have the f-bombs dropping here and there. I’d like to have my children watch it. I guess the intention was to give the film some edge. I really do think it stood just fine on its content without the need of that language.
At a couple of points, the video seems a little less than high quality. Part of that is due to the fact that they are filming George watching a clips on a big screen. However, there are some other sections that seem a little grainy. Don’t worry about it. Before long you don’t notice those things as you sit there with the interviewer trying to pry open Hincapie’s mind.
I don’t know George, but I do know people who are close enough to him to give a fair assessment as to whether this film captures his true personality. Each one of them gives the basic response, “That is George.” If it is, then I’m more willing than ever to say I’m a fan of my fellow Greenvillian.
I don’t want to give any spoilers, but there is one instance I have to share. Near the end of the movie many people, including Lance Armstrong, are asked what title they would give to George. As they started this segment I said out loud to myself, “America’s Cycling Ambassador.” I have called George that before. Well, what do you know, a few moments later that is the exact title bestowed on Hincapie by Paul Sherwin.
The movie ends with George giving his own idea of what his title should be. You’ll have to watch it to find out what he says. You won’t be disappointed.