Jonathan Douglas asked the question, “Is it possible for an average bloke to ride all 21 stages of the Tour de France?”
That question and the answer to it can be witnessed in the sub-hour documentary “One Day Ahead” by Silver Eye Films.
In it, we follow eight New Zealanders in their attempt to complete the 2018 Tour de France, one stage at a time, one day ahead of the actual professional race, in order to raise money and awareness for the Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand.
The Team are relative strangers to each other as we roll off from stage one: Paul, Bruce, Dr. Fish, Mike, John, Stu, Aaron, and Jason. But it’s important to state that while these guys are fit or at least spent some time training for this, New Zealand only has so many mountain passes and so much space to train.
These guys, as accountants, consultants, and technicians, are just like the guy who was just sitting next to you in a meeting, but they have a passion for cycling and a willingness to do whatever it takes to raise money and awareness for mental health.
The cycling fans among them missed out on watching a pretty intense 2018 Tour de France that only had a ratings dip because it overlapped with the 2018 World Cup. But I’m sure they were willing to make that trade, because to see the emotion of the ride is intense.
To quote Dr. Fish, “I’m amazed at how surprising my emotions have been in the last two weeks and… You will have captured that and I can’t explain it, don’t know why, it’s just been epic…”
Even though they are with each other for 23 days over 21 stages of cycling 3,500 kilometers, these guys got to know each other as they spent time thinking about the distances ahead and their cause.
Mental health has in some way touched each of the eight riders in some way, and their stories are shared as part of the documentary as well.
This documentary may seem like something that is just for me – someone who enjoys his annual Tour de France viewing – but I promise you that this documentary is for anyone who enjoys seeing people overcome things against all odds.
As their coach, former professional rider Hayden Roulston says, “It’s a brutal brutal sport and it’s even more brutal when you’re not a professional athlete trying to do what the professionals do.”
John Randal concurs. Sitting on his porch doing the talking head bit after having completed the ride, he says, “When you see it on TV, you really, you don’t get a good sense of how incredible they are. You know, they’re just these little skinny guys that are sitting on their bikes looking like they’re just out for a Sunday ride.“
And 2018 was a year that didn’t skimp on the classic mountains of France. Names like Col de Romme, Col de la Colombiere, Col du Pre, Col de la Madeleine, Col de la Croix de Fer, Col du Portet, Col de Mente, and Alpe d’ Huez with its legendary 21 switchbacks are all featured.
There’s also Stage 19 that included Col d’ Aspin, Col du Tourmalet, and Col d’Aubisque which all played their part in the 2018 edition of Le Tour but also in the Tour’s history.
These eight men accomplished something that cyclists the world over dream of. While it’s hard and it’s brutal, it is a noble goal for a more than noble cause. Anything that can be done to raise awareness and funds for mental health, I’m all for.
So watch this documentary. It’s superbly well done, shot with great care, and has a message that is applicable to any and all, as we have all been touched in some way by mental health. I even shared my experience with it in Episode 13 of The Palmer Files, if you’re interested. For now, tune in to your favorite YouTube device and watch these eight men ride.