I recently got a chance to see “A Ride with George” a feature-length documentary about George Hincapie. If you don’t know who George Hincapie is you’re probably not a cycling fan, but he is one of the greatest American Cyclists of all time and has now been on 9 winning Tour de France teams, that’s got to be a record.
The film covers George’s early years through interviews and archival movie and video footage. George’s current life is covered through an on the bike interview along with interviews with team mates, cycling insiders, friends and family. Perhaps strangely missing is footage of George actually racing, very little is seen and usually briefly, my guess is that it was expensive to show scenes from races and they charge by the second.
Watching “A Ride with George” feels like you’ve been given a weekend pass to hang out with George. It feels pretty natural despite some of the questions being a bit confrontational, for example, “Why the Fuck haven’t you won the Paris-Roubaix yet,” to which George replies, “What?”
Despite the directness it’s a great question, the movie sets up a bit of drama by proposing that George sacrificed his own cycling goals in order to help other people (Armstrong) win, for example George had to lose weight so he could serve Lance in the mountains, losing weight also meant loosing some strength he’d need to win long tough one day classics.
George, being the super nice guy that he is denies the accusation and goes on about how bad luck has kept him from winning the Paris-Roubaix. In fact after watching this my respect and admiration for George, which was already pretty high, has grown even more. He just seems like such a good guy, its shame he spent all those years helping Armstrong win.
Helping others win seems to be what George does best, almost every time I saw BMC at the front during The Tour this year they were led by George. Would Cadel have won without George to guide him through the carnage? Who knows, but I couldn’t imagine a safer place to be in the peloton then on George’s wheel.
The most introspective part of the film was the end when George is being shown a book of famous riders, each rider has their own blurb. When asked what George thinks his blurb would say he thinks a minute and with obvious pride, but maybe a hint of sadness says, “The Greatest Team-mate of all time.” What a guy!