Hot on the heels of the first (sold out) event organised by Leeds cycling impresario Ian Street comes the follow up film, the documentary “Rising From Ashes“. I went along to the first night and it was thoroughly enjoyable evening; good film, good venue (The Reliance in Leeds), good beer and some great cycling-friendly company. More details on the Leeds Bicycle Film Club website or Twitter feed.
“Rising From Ashes is an uplifting documentary bringing a little known story to life about the creation of the first Rwandan National Cycling Team. The title has a double meaning that refers not only to the tremendous spirit displayed by the athletes as they struggle to overcome the horrific legacy of the genocide that occurred a generation earlier, but also the personal redemption of the famed American cyclist who led them.
Bicycles have a prominent role in Rwanda (known as the The Land of a Thousand Hills) as they are a primary means of transport. American bike builder Tom Richey explored the country on his mountain bike in 2005 and met a group of cyclists who called themselves Team Rwanda. Inspired by their dedication, Richey enlisted his friend and former rival Jock Boyer, who was the first American to participate in the Tour de France, to become their coach.
The film details his subsequent years long efforts to whip the Rwandan team into enough shape to qualify for the 2012 London Olympics. Among his riders is Adrein Niyonshut who lost 60 members of his family, including six brothers, in the 1994 genocide. The documentary avoids melodramatics but tells the moving and powerful story.”