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An America primer for pro-cyclists coming to race in the U.S.

July 29, 2013

A recent tweet by Team Sky’s Luke Rowe suggests he’ll be racing in Colorado – he told teammate Ian Boswell he’s planning to see a couple of movies during an upcoming trip.

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Boswell suggested he consider Legends of the Fall.

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Rowe’s in-flight entertainment could be just something to pass the time. Still, it raises the question: how can pro-cyclists get acquainted with the U.S. before they arrive for August’s Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah or the USA Pro Challenge?

For some answers ProVéloPassion conducted an informal survey asking people to name movies and books that would show someone from another country what America is all about. Following is an abbreviated list from that survey.

Some of the suggestions were provided tongue-in-cheek and play up American stereotypes over every day sometimes hum-drum reality. No single film or novel stood out as a favorite, pointing out that it’s difficult for one resource to fully represent the diversity that is the U.S.

What do you think about this list? What would you add to it?

Movies

Lincoln. Set in early 1865, Lincoln primarily portrays the President’s fight to pass the 13th Amendment to abolish slavery and also depicts some of the impact of the Civil War on the country.

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Breaking Away. “The story of four guys in danger of turning twenty” in Indiana in the late 1970s– and one’s love for the bicycle. It made the American Film Institute’s Ten Top Ten in the sports category. [quote from movie trailer]

Year of the Yao. The story of Chinese pro-basketball player Yao Ming’s first year in the U.S.

National Lampoon’s Vacation. The 1983 film trails a family on their cross-country driving vacation and their adventures along the way from Chicago to a Los Angeles amusement park.

American Graffiti. About teenage life in the early 1960s in Modesto, California.

The Natural. A film about Roy Hobbs, his baseball career and struggles.

Books

To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee. (adapted to film in 1962) A classic about childhood innocence and facing racial prejudice in the 1930s in a small southern town.

O Pioneers, by Willa Cather. A story about a Swedish immigrant family who farms the Nebraska prairie at the turn of the 20th century.

American Pastoral, by Philip Roth. “…an elegy for all our century’s promises of prosperity, civic order, and domestic bliss,” told through the story of a man who in the 1960s appears to have a great American life, until it gets interrupted. [Quote from synopsis on Amazon.com]

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain. This book that follows Adventures of Tom Sawyer is about the adventures of two runaways in the pre-Civil War Mississippi River Valley south – one a kid, the other a slave. [Written in vernacular or regionally spoken English, the book has been banned in the past and contains language considered to be racially offensive.]

Other suggestions and comments

The Simpsons. Animated TV series that satirizes middle class American life and American culture and society in general.

King of the Hill. Comic adult animated TV sitcom that follows the lives of a middle class Texas family.

Have an American breakfast in a nostalgic diner.

“Take them to a baseball game.”

[Many thanks to those who responded to the survey question, and Susan Messina who helped launch it in social media. Numerous suggestions were pared down to the list above.]

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