If you like to see road racing cyclists in tight lyrca up close and personal, the IMAX film "Wired to Win" might be for you. My family and I arrived at the showing at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science just before the show started. The only seats available were on the front row. The cyclist were all at least 20 feet tall. When Jimmy Caspar crashed in the 2003 Tour de France, his road-rashed butt hanging from his ripped shorts covered at least 20 square feet directly in front of my eyeballs in full Technicolor glory. You can trace the incision on the larger-than-life IMAX version of Lance Armstrong. And when Baden Cooke sat at the end of a stage in his bike shorts, you could almost see the line where he stopped shaving his legs. Thank God Team Française des Jeux doesn't use red shorts.
Huge IMAX road bicycles are an amazing sight. It was interesting to me to see all the Japanese components on European bicycles. Even on the big screen, cyclists jostle and are mere inches from one another.
"Wired to Win" uses the Tour de France to illustrate the workings of the brain in learning, training, pain response, and decision making. The film makers followed Française des Jeux bicycle team members Baden Cooke and Jimmy Caspar in the 2003 Tour de France. I went for the bicycle racing footage: Where else will you see a stage race in IMAX? "Wired to Win" does a good job capturing the excitement of the mountain passes, showing the beauty of Marseilles, and giving us the obligatory shot of cyclists passing through a sunflower field. Caspar crashed and tried to continue racing in a neck brace but eventually had to drop out. Australian sprinter Cooke won the green jersey, lost it to fellow Aussie Rob McEwen, then gained it back again in the end.
All of this is done to teach me about the brain. Repetitive training is done so that neural pathways are established to make racing moves and teamwork second nature. Decisions are made after injury: Go or quit? Sudden hazards are dealth with instantaneously through various parts of the brain.
"Wired to Win" was interesting to my wife and I. My two children (who've seen plenty of cycling videos) were bored after the first half hour of it.
"Wired to Win" is showing through the end of March at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science IMAX theater. $5 for member adults, $8 for non-member adults; children and seniors pay a little less. The Body Worlds exhibit (showing real cadavers) is extraordinarily popular, so expect parking to be unavailable. Find other show locations at the Wired To Win website.
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The visuals were great. The movie was only okay - there were times when you could tell the scenes were re-creations, and bad ones at that. Still, worth the money I spent to see it at the Boston Omni Theater a few months ago.
The movie was originally supposed to be about Tyler Hamilton - and what a movie it would have been. I can't help but think that there's some really awesome Tyler Hamilton footage on the cutting room floor somewhere. Maybe it'll be in the DVD release?