Movie Review: The Flying Scotsman

Posted on October 22, 2007

Oh yes, this is another cycling movie. Hold up though. Don’t change that dial. How does this sound:

Man breaks the hour record (distance traveled in one hour of cycling) and wins the world cycling championship on a bike he designed and built partly from old washing machine parts.

Right, that sounds pretty silly and if this movie was fiction I would agree with you and there would have been no way I would have watched it (well, I probably would have watched it just because there were bikes in it). However, The Flying Scotsman is in fact the true story of Graeme Obree and it took place only in the mid 1990s so it is actually fairly recent.

While technically not an outstanding film I did enjoy the story and the racing scenes. This was a story I had only heard about here and there so it was nice to get the complete picture from of what had happened via the movie.

This story is not simply a “feel good” one though. Graeme suffered from brutal bouts with depression that caused him to attempt suicide once and drove him to push himself as hard as he did. Along with the depression Graeme suffered from he also had the UCI cycling officials to deal with who continually came up with new rules to bar his innovations from competition.

In fact, one piece of the story that struck a chord with me other than the cycling was that of Graeme’s innovations.

Graeme thought about cycling differently. He questioned why bikes were built with certain geometries and why riders positions on their bikes were the way they were. This lead him to design and build his own bike and to pioneer a number of different riding positions that he others behind him used to propel themselves to victory.

Unfortunately, every step of the way the UCI found ways to outlaw his innovations though even though they were completely reasonable. My views on the governing bodies of cycling, including the World Anti-Doping Agency, are a whole other post though.

The bottom line is that Graeme was and is an innovator and an entrepreneur in every sense of the word. His story is an inspiring one. Even if you aren’t into cycling I would recommend checking out this film for the simple reason that it will inspire you to keep doing what it is you do which, in a lot of cases, will be building your company.

If there is one thing we can learn from Graeme it is to keep questioning, keep innovating and to never say die.


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1 Comment so far
  1. Retro Bicycles October 23, 2007 3:25 pm

    Give me an old cool bicycle, and I’ll ride around the city for days.