Filmmaker Nicole Hahn examines the world of women who enjoy off-road biking in this shapeless, not particularly perceptive documentary.
Hahn's subjects are the women of WOMBAT, the Women's Mountain Bike And Tea society. In addition to chronicling the grueling activities of competitors like Missy Giove and Marla Streb, Hahn introduces us to such key members as Jacquie Phelan and Jen Klish. Cancer-survivor Phelan is a mother hen to the younger athletes, instructing neophytes in the basics of cross-country and downhill dirt
biking. Without renouncing her affection for the sport, former pro Klish has opted for a sideline in bike repair; aware that opportunities for female riders even pros are limited, she specifically addresses how hard it is for stars, let alone lesser competitors, the score the endorsement deals that seem to come more easily to men. There are still plenty of women ready to step into Klish’s off-road boots, and their dedication eats up a week of travel time from venue to venue and entails course inspections, trial runs, fine-tuning and actual competition. Because racers must regularly travel to meets, their personal lives are often placed on hold. When a veteran racer like Katrina Miller injures herself, the loss of revenue is immediate; she decides to abandon downhill challenges and focus on safer courses. By the time "Go for It!" day arrives, the energy level is astonishing, and the sportswomen manage to sustain both a conquering spirit and a sense of solidarity. They cheer each other’s victories and empathize with each other’s defeats.
Though positioned as both an intro for fledgling female off-road bikers and an empowerment exercise for long-time bike buffs, Hahn's film is unlikely to appeal to anyone who isn't already seriously interested in the sport. With a little more finesse it might actually make so converts, but as it is the director appears to simply set up her camera and let it roll for a good long time before calling "Cut;" the result is haphazard and more than a little dull.
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