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21 Days Under the Sky

The Biker documentary 21 Days Under the Sky review….

Flying long haul is a drag, there is no other way to describe it. A recent flight from London to Kuala Lumpur saw me sat on a plane for over fifteen hours, it wasn’t fun. Usually I read for as long as I can endure the surrounding noise which isn’t long and so I reluctantly put on the headphones and pick through the on-board entertainment options. I detest the latest rom-coms with a passion, new comedy is seldom funny and action adventures bore me. Given the distinct lack of 1970s Cold War serialisations and documentaries on Malaysian Airlines I dread the boredom of it all, pacifying myself with thoughts of cold showers and even colder beers at the end of it.

This year however, was an all-together more enjoyable flight. Early on I discovered a documentary called 21 Days Under the Sky, a documentary about a group of bikers setting out on a 3,800 mile road trip from San Francisco along the Lincoln Highway crossing coast to coast through sun, rain, salt flats, deserts and huge open spaces on that ultimate American experience, the road trip.

It is beautifully shot, the director , Michael Schmidt is well versed in motorcycle tradition and this is a film about bikes and the men and women who ride them. It’s not a Hells Angels movie, no sex, drugs or violence. What it is however, is the embodiment of the American love affair with the motorcycle and the rich history of its subculture. The film shows the pitfalls of riding old motorcycles for such long distances as well as the camaraderie of fellow bikers and the repair shops they call in on. There is a wonderful segment with one of the legends of American biker folklore, Tom Fugle in Sioux City with an affectionate look back at those early days in the mid to late sixties when the revolution truly took off.

I watched this back to back, the soundtrack is available on Spotify and well worth a listen. The movie is available as a download outside of the US, such was the relief it was still being shown on the return flight, I watched it five more times. They are the definition of cool without trying, a ’67 roadstar, long hair and beard, faded jeans and leathers. Who wouldn’t want to give that a go?

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