Interesting concept but it begs the question: Why? And we find out as an intrepid but woefully under-informed group of Australian cyclists sets out to duplicate the arduous trip West taken by the Joad Family chronicled by John Steinbeck – from dust-covered Oklahoma to the fabled groves of California – in 1939.
Enthralled by American culture and music but questioning their own naivety within hours of setting out for what turns out to be a test of mettle and equipment as bikes and men fail, seat rashes set in and the money gives out, the two-wheeled experiment turns into a travelogue with America and its people the stars, personalities met along the way reading passages from Steinbeck as the Australians apply them to contemporary life.
America and its people come across as eccentric, generous, directionless – wounded. An encounter with a schizophrenic man on the verge of institutionalization yet determined to keep his “freedom” is both heartbreaking and illuminating.
In the end, our heroes make it to California but fail to connect with Ma or Pa or Tom Joad – finding their descendants and contemporaries instead.
Why We Liked It: It’s a long ride marked by many injuries and punctures but we realize the “Wrath Riders” were right, and that the only way to really see and understand America was to see it from a bicycle.
Quotable Quote: “It ain’t that big. The whole United States ain’t that big. It ain’t big enough. There ain’t room enough for you an’ me, for your kind an’ my kind, for rich and poor together all in one country, for thieves and honest men.”
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