Chasing the Sun premieres

Velocity took a trip to the Ritzy Cinema in Brixton last night to take in "Chasing the Sun", a new documentary film exploring not just the annual challenge of riding 200 miles, coast to coast, but also some of the side stories of those involved, exemplifying the sheer joy – and sometimes therapy – that cycling can bring.


The film, backed by Trek and Bosch, traces the participants in last year’s ride across the country and some of the participants, but also touches on issues relating to e-mobility, infrastructure (or lack thereof) and local initiatives such as Bike Bus.

And following the showing, a discussion panel including commentator and author Ned Boulting, writer Jools Walker, director Michael Clifford and My Choice and Black Riders Association founder Temi Lateef chewed the fat about the film, and the bicycle’s powers to bring joy, across ages and demographics.

The film initially faced hurdles of funding constraints and a desire for a deeper narrative beyond mere event coverage, Clifford related. "Maybe we’ll take a different angle on it," he said. "What about if we use the route to explore the story of cycling in the UK?" That was the narrative it took, paving the way for a broader movement advocating for youth empowerment and environmental sustainability.

Clifford, armed with a passion for storytelling and a love for cycling, took producer Phil Webb's seed of an idea and cultivated it into a flourishing concept. Instead of merely capturing the rush of wheels on pavement, he envisioned a film that would embody the ethos of green filmmaking, aligning with the principles of "Albert", BAFTA's sustainability initiative. This decision transformed the project into a pioneering case study, demonstrating how, with the crew mainly on bikes throughout, filmmaking could attempt to tread lightly on the planet while still making a significant impact.

Central to the film's narrative were the voices of individuals deeply entrenched in the cycling community, each offering perspectives on the intersection of cycling, advocacy, and personal growth. Clifford shared insights gleaned from documenting the journey of biking enthusiasts.

However, it was Lateef who became a beacon of inspiration, intertwining his personal narrative of resilience with a fervent commitment to youth empowerment. Through his non-profit organization, Lateef not only mentors young people but also provides them with opportunities to re-engage with education while instilling a passion for cycling. Lateef’s journey from training for a bike ride across Africa (including a less-than-friendly welcome to the Regent's Park cycling scene), to advocating for mental health awareness during a solo cycling expedition from London, England to Lagos, Nigeria underscored the transformative power of two wheels.

Walker, aka Lady Velo, another prominent voice in the film, shared her journey of rediscovering cycling through health challenges and advocating for greater inclusivity within the cycling community. Her visibility as a black woman in the traditionally male-dominated realm of cycling served as a catalyst for change, inspiring others to embrace the joy of cycling regardless of background or identity. "I hope it also inspires lots of folks out there who are either on bikes or thinking about getting on bikes and just the power of the bike and where it can take you. It’s just a very powerful, emotional message."

As the film delved into topics ranging from the need for infrastructure improvements in urban cycling to the cultural significance of biking in the UK, the message was that cycling was more than just a means of transportation—it was a vehicle for social change and personal empowerment.

And Ned Boulting said that he was proud of what London had achieved in terms of getting more people cycling but that there was still a way to go to get the infrastructure enjoyed by other countries where cycling was more respected and engrained into the culture. In this country we cycle as children and stop in our teens, he said, but many rediscover it. "I think there’s a genuine kind of generational shift," he said. "So that gives me a lot of hope in this country." His friend, Olympic medallist and cycling advocate Chris Boardman, now 53, has himself reinvented his relationship with cycling, Boulting added. "He is a bimbler. He bimbles down to the shops, and isn’t that wonderful that someone can go through the whole journey and redefine what it is to ride a bike?"

At its core, the film exemplified the power of storytelling to drive positive change, weaving together threads of inspiration, activism, and environmental stewardship into a tapestry of hope for future generations. As the credits rolled, viewers were left with a newfound appreciation for the humble bicycle—a symbol not only of freedom and mobility but also of the boundless potential for progress when passion meets purpose.

Chasing The Sun is coming to a cinema near you from 18 April. After the premiere at The Ritzy, Brixton, London, it will be touring the country staging Q&A screenings featuring talks with members of the film's production team and contributors. The tour will take in London, Winchester, Southampton, Bristol, Bath, Oxford, Cambridge, Brighton, Malvern, Birmingham, Liverpool and Edinburgh.

Official trailer:


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