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Film review: ‘Singletrack High’ inspires teens to rediscover cycling

Pedal Born Pictures’ most recent film, Singletrack High, reminds us of why we ride bikes: For the freedom and the relaxation, the good-natured competition, and the camaraderie. It also reminds us of just how awkward high school can be.

The documentary focuses on the popular and well-organized NorCal High School Cycling League, established in 2001 with the intention of getting kids back on their bikes.

After traveling to various developing countries and producing another documentary, With My Own Two Wheels, brothers Jacob and Isaac Seigel-Boettner realized that in the United States, bikes were thrown to the wayside and replaced by cars. They want to change this, and through the creation of Singletrack High, they hope to target the age when youngsters typically ditch their bikes for a driver’s license.

The film follows the 2012 mountain bike race season of six high school athletes, highlighting the challenges each one faces as the season progresses.

“Because there is no bench, literally any kid who is motivated can join a team, race their bike, and score points for their team,” Jacob Seigel-Boettner said. All racers compete on the same course, whether they are there to goof around with friends or race at the “World Cup level.”

The documentary is enriched by interviews with highly supportive parents, coaches, and league officials. The best insights, though, come from the riders themselves.

Cody sets a goal of finishing second-to-last for his second race. MacKinzie says she just loves to be outside and the rush of adrenaline that mountain biking gives her. Liz explains that she doesn’t mind the scars — they each have a unique story to tell. Carlos describes his shock when he saw the sea of spandex at his first race.

Both inspiring and hilarious, the documentary addresses the question of what mountain biking can do for the mind, body, and social lives of today’s teens.

“It’s important to get more kids outdoors, on bikes, exploring the world under their own power,” Jacob Seige-Boettner said.

Various organizations around the country are hosting screenings of Singletrack High throughout April. Click here to see a complete listing or if you’re interested in hosting your own screening.

If you plan on racing (or watching) this year’s Sea Otter Classic in Monterey, California, the Golden State Theater will screen the film April 20 at 7:30 p.m. A VIP reception will follow, where fans can meet the athletes from the film and cycling legends Ned Overend and Gary Fisher. Visit the race’s website to purchase tickets.

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