The film “Les Échappées”, 3,000 km through France to meet women by bicycle

They are adventurers with such courage, or family walkers, they are high-level champions or simple “cyclists”, they are artisans, booksellers or elected officials, city dwellers or provincials, active or retired, integrated or precarious. They go alone or in a group, but all: by bicycle. They ride, and claim, each in their own way, the happiness and power that pedaling gives them.

3,000 km through France

Louise Roussel had already defended the cause of women’s cycling in writing, and it was mainly with the idea of ​​”bringing life” to her book (“À vos cycles!”, Tana Éditions), to promote it through a series of meetings. she, who she decided to undertake along the way, in the company of Océane Lepape, whose life she shares.

Loaded with camera, clothing and bivouac equipment, the two young women embark on a 3,000 km journey through France, with the idea of ​​painting a portrait of female cycling, and counteracting that kind of contempt for class that represents the distinction between the male valuer of “bicycle” and the loosely feminine diminutive of “bicycle”.

“Today we gladly give a bicycle to the girls. But when young children are given a mountain bike to ride in the mud, they are often assigned a “wiser” bike, rather urban and equipped with a small basket. »

This is how we meet, over the kilometres, Gaëlle Bojko who traveled 900 km on the ice of Lake Baikal, Sara Rahala who also traveled alone from Cairo to Mecca, Swanee Ravonison, to date the only camerawoman in France , by Marion Clignet, at the time world champion in pursuit despite epilepsy; but also of those who are already older queuing for her hundred kilometres, or of this anonymous African who has just done her first laps thanks to the Cycl’Avenir association. And many others, that’s how broad the subject is.

Rethinking the place of women in cycling

Because beyond promoting the only increase in the number of women on bicycles, Louise Roussel and Océane Lepape claim the political dimension of their statements. The fact that even taken in the broadest sense (let’s say from competition to commuting to urban mobility) cycling is still predominantly male, directly refers to issues as fundamental as those of a polarized and “generic” education. ” Suresays Louise Roussel, nowadays, we gladly offer a bicycle to girls. But when young children are given a mountain bike to ride in the mud, they are often assigned a “wiser” bike, rather urban and equipped with a small basket. »

The film goes to meet the women who pedal. (DR)

Integrated and most of the time unnoticed, this way of distributing roles is also very legible in playgrounds, where the space is mostly occupied by the stronger or more physically comfortable children, and typically, by the soccer field.

This selective occupation does not cease to prefigure that of public space, nor does it influence land use planning policies. ” Prayedwe heard in the movie, just as riding a bicycle is -unlike what happens with the car that encloses the body- making oneself visible and accessible, it is also for women a way of occupying public space. »

a movie for everyone

The film also goes beyond an audience already concerned and committed to the cause of cycling, and overcomes another social barrier. In effect, the power of the “big car” as an emblem of social success has insidiously alienated the most popular classes from the only almost free means of transport, which is the bicycle. “ The world of the bicycle that I knew, that of bikepacking or that of travel, is a very privileged environmentexplains Louise Roussel. It was about getting out. We have approached associations that, like “Sport dans la ville”, work in priority neighbourhoods. »

“Les Échappées”, a title in which its two co-authors and the protagonists they lead us to meet, are embodied, is an exciting film, as sweet as it is stimulating, as powerful as it is calm. As the word is open there, and more collected than carried, the theme flows naturally, without the slightest rhetorical impasse.

In almost the same conditions that allowed it to be shot, the film meets its viewers. As well as in the cinemas themselves, various projections-debates took place, both in schools and in social centers or bike cafes. Straddling various themes, the screenings appeal to both people who are aware of feminism and not cycling, and people who are highly involved in cycling but not particularly concerned with gender as a social construct. The meeting is obviously the central point. Here you will find the dates of the next ones.


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