Breaking Away

Bellingham Bike-In revives a classic

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Sports movies don’t typically tend to get my motors whirring—especially if they’re thick with athletic terminology and short on meaningful storylines.

Breaking Away is an exception to the rule.

I don’t really remember when I first watched the Academy Award-winning flick—it came out in 1979, when I was still pretty young—but it’s one of those films that has stayed with me over the years, and repeated viewings.

Needless to say, I was thrilled when I heard that the Pickford Film Center was planning its annual Bike-In and featuring Breaking Away on the oh-so-scenic rooftop of the Bellingham Parkade.

I can’t think of a better way to cling to what remains of summer than being outside while watching the story of four young friends from working-class families in Bloomington, Ind., attempt to find purpose in their lives by entering a “Little 500” bike race at Indiana State University.

The main character, Dave (Dennis Christopher), has become obsessed with Italian bike racing, and goes so far as to masquerade as an Italian exchange student in order to impress a lady. However, it soon becomes clear his biking prowess is more than just an act, and when he and his three friends—played by Daniel Stern, Jackie Earle Haley, and a baby-faced (and incredibly hot, and often shirtless) Dennis Quaid—form a team to compete against the local college boys and a real Italian team in the race, it’s inevitable viewers will root for them.

But being that the powers-that-be at the Pickford don’t tend to do things in a small way, the screening of the movie on the top floor of the Parkade is just one equation of the “Bike-In.”

Attendees are encouraged to ride their two-wheeled conveyances to the venue, and to show up a couple hours before dusk to partake of many things; including live music by Pretty Little Feet, a beer garden, food and bike vendors and a “Bells & Whistles” Bicycle Show. With an invitation to “shamelessly flaunt your favorite bike and win great prizes,” the show and competition will feature categories such as “vintage/classic,” “commuter/cargo,” “handmade/unique/freak” and also a category for kids.

By the time you finally settle in to watch Breaking Away—after taking in the sunset view from the bird’s-eye perch the Parkade provides—my guess is that you’ll be reveling in summertime bliss, and ready to cheer on the underdogs.

The Rooftop Cinema Series continues with viewings of Whip It Fri., Aug. 29 (with appearances by the Bellingham Roller Betties) and The Blues Brothers Fri., Sept. 12 (with DJ Yogoman).

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