On April 11th 2015, Mike Dion and Hunter Weeks, along with their two associate producers Eddie Clark and Matthew Paul Irving, premiered their new film Inspired to Ride in Golden Colorado. Inspired to Ride joins Ride the Divide and Reveal the Path as Dion’s third, cycling themed production. Inspired to Ride chronicles the challenges and adventures of athletes participating in the first ever Trans Am Bike Race, which was organized by Nathan Jones in 2014.
The Trans Am Bike Race is a non stop, self supported road bike race along the 4,233 mile Trans America Trail. The route was mapped in 1975 by Bikecentennial (now known as Adventure Cycling Association) for their Bikecentennial ‘76 event, when more than 4,000 cyclists rode part or all of the route across the U.S. to celebrate the nation’s bicentennial. The TransAm remains the most popular route in the Adventure Cycling Route Network which now includes over 41,000 miles of cycling routes.
The Inspired to Ride website promised “A day of panel discussions from the worlds top ultra-endurance cyclists. Followed by the premiere screening of the film and a Q&A from the cast and crew. This event is the first, and possibly only time, these ultra-endurance athletes will be in the same room.” Now that sounded interesting. But would the event deliver? I headed to Foss Auditorium, located at the American Mountaineering Center to find out. First up was Billy Rice, summarizing everything he’s learned about nutrition, training and preparing one’s body for the rigors of multi-day ultra racing. Billy is clear, “everything you think you know about nutrition and training is usually wrong.” Rice, a Trans Am finisher renowned for his 2013 Tour Divide YoYo, warm heart and goofy chuckle, recently launched Invictus Cycling and Performance. Billy proved a solid opening act and the audience enthusiastically applauded his strategies and suggestions for improving performance. Neil Beltchenko was up next. Neil currently holds the fastest finishing times on both the Colorado Trail southbound and California’s Stagecoach route. Beltchenko’s presentation elicited a collective gasp of dismay as he unpacked his sparsely resourced trail bike. “That’s all you bring?” an audience member shouted. Beltchenko chuckled and answered with a question of his own. “How comfortable do you need to be during a bike race?” If moving quickly in all-terrain, three season conditions proves easy for you, then you need to start riding with Tracy Petervary. Like Neil, Tracy structured her presentation by unpacking her kit. Petervary’s “fast and light” mindset is evident in every clothing and equipment choice she’s made. Joined onstage by a gorgeous Salsa Beargrease, she addressed being comfortable in the cold and shared her love for adventuring by bike.
Q & A with the Inspired to Ride production crew.
The Inspired to Ride team answered questions about filming and shared their experience with postproduction challenges. After regaling the crowd with anecdotes of flying drones and exploding raccoons, Dion whipped the spirited lot into a frenzy, tossing quality swag in all directions from the stage. An impressive turnout of local bikepackers, ultra racing athletes and notable backcountry adventurers had filled the room and it was time for the evening’s main event.
“I don’t understand those who say you can’t enjoy a route while moving quickly.                                                                                 I find it quite enjoyable to move as fast as I can.”
The final approach to the premiere began with a Juliana Buhring interview, current Guinness world record holder for a female cycling around the world. She’s an extraordinary athlete and if you’re unfamiliar with Juliana’s story, read up. Her quick wit, mischievous smile and extraverted personality hijacked the room’s attention. At 20 days, 23 hours and 46 minutes, Buhring was the 5th place finisher in the 2014 Trans Am and serves as the film’s leading lady. The trials and tribulations of Juliana’s race become a prominent storyline within Inspired to Ride and the on-screen conflict between Buhring and fellow Italian racers contributes to the movie’s brilliance. You can expect more ultra racing action and a new book from Buhring in 2016. Mike Hall, winner of the 2014 Trans Am, coordinator of the Trans Continental and endurance cycling badass took the stage. Mike offered some final commentary leading up to the movie’s start. Humble, unassuming and reflective, Hall answered an array of questions as attendees hung on every word. Hall on efficiency: “Crave the trail. Crave moving and living off of your bike” Hall on mental toughness: “If you’re going to cry, cry while you’re moving on your bike.” The audience knew it was a special opportunity to hear the master drop mad wisdom. I found myself wishing they’d delay the premiere and give Mike more time to rap. But he’s the star of show so there’d be plenty of time to hear more from Hall during the film. Friends. Beer. Pizza. Beer. Movie. More Beer. A guy in a dress…. The night spun wildly onward as these types of events usually do. But I’ll leave you with this…. You should see this movie if you like riding bicycles and participating in cool adventures. I’m not a big fan of pavement but these athletes weather the same challenges and conditions all bikepackers and off road travelers routinely encounter. Fans of the classic, Ride the Divide will enjoy the new film’s cycling and pain cave footage. Inspired to Ride is a refined production, filmed with cool technology by a talented crew of non-obtrusive documentarians. Critics of the seemingly plot-less Reveal the Path will appreciate the improvement to storyline, the director’s use of archetypes and Dion’s careful attention to character development. Watching a beastly Mike Hall destroy himself and the peloton while a stunning Juliana Buhring beats up on the boys makes for good entertainment. But it’s the regular riders, common adventurers and local people found along the Trans Am route who steal the show and brought much of the house to tears. The film is available to the general public this June and we highly recommend checking it out!


  1. Michael,
    Your review is spot on. My daughter and I flew out to attend the premiere and it was a great experience. Hunter and Mike outdid their previous work by far. Looking forward to seeing it again when it hits the streets.
    Thanks for the review.

    • Michael Ackerman
      Michael Ackerman

      Thanks Darrell! I attended the premiere with no expectations and to say I was “inspired” is an understatement. By far, best flick from Mike and Hunter so far….great guys as well! Thanks for the feedback and Happy Trails!

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