I had a chance to see “The Levi Effect” last night. It is the story of Levi Leipheimer, a very successful stage racer raised in Butte, Montana and currently residing in Sonoma County, California. It portrays Levi in a very positive light, unlike documentaries which tend to be balanced.
The film was released as a one night only event. I have attended similar screenings in the past and was entertained by the film. It is well filmed and shows how cycling can be part of one’s identity, part of the community, and at the professional ranks can be intensely competitive.
Leipheimer is a few years younger than me, but I was equally inspired by Greg Lemond and the 1989 Tour de France. While I never had the ambition to race my bicycle, cycling did represent freedom. Leipheimer achieved success during the EPO era and admits to being in a position to having to make a difficult choice in order to be part of teams that were competing in the Tour de France. He does not go into specifics, nor should he. The intent of the film was to showcase the Gran Fondo and the positive impact that cycling can have on a community apart from the sponsors and business of cycling.
The local races and the characters in the community were particularly entertaining. I got a kick out of the world’s fastest dentist and proprietors of the Riviera Restaurant in Santa Rosa, CA.
I would not recommend the film to general audiences and even cycling enthusiasts will walk away being only mildly entertained. There is not much drama, just a brief glimpse into Leipheimer’s life on and off the bike.