And for these rare and unfortunate occasions, what must a cyclist do to scratch that never-ending itch to hop on two wheels? We recommend sitting back on the couch—or better yet, hopping on your trainer—and checking out one of these documentaries streaming on Netflix right now.
Stop at Nothing: The Lance Armstrong Story2014 1 of 7
It's hard to believe that in 2007, Lance Armstrong was the greatest feel-good story of the past decade. Yet, his quick downfall, which included the revelation of years of lying about doping while simultaneously throwing everybody under the bus who dare suggest he cheated to capture seven Tour de France titles, turns into one of the most tragic documentaries of the past few years.
While some might interpret this film as a hack job on Armstrong, it still provides amazing insights into the character of a man who did literally anything to win.
Pantani: The Accidental Death of a Cyclist2014 2 of 7
With a clean-shaven head, bandana, a general pirate-like persona and aggressive riding style, Italian Marco Pantani was one of professional cycling's most popular characters. It helps that he was also one hell of a rider, capturing two grand tour titles in 1998. But his battle with drug addiction and sudden death at the age of 34 rocked the cycling world.
This tragic documentary that follows the life and death of one of the sport's most beloved cyclists is certainly worth 90 minutes on the couch.
Slaying the Badger2014 3 of 7
A fascinating view into the world of team cycling, this documentary gives audiences a front-row seat for the now infamous inner-team rift that occurred between American Greg LeMond and Belgian Bernhard Hinault—arguably two of the greatest cyclists of all time. La Vie Claire, the team they rode for in the 1986 Tour, was essentially The Beatles of the cycling world—and the drama that unfolded is now legendary.
It doesn't hurt that this version of the tale casts LeMond as the unfairly treated hero, now the "only" American to have officially captured the Tour de France.
Clean Spirit: In the Heart of the Tour2014 4 of 7
While doping allegations and other forms of cheating have marred the sport of cycling for the past couple of decades, one team has set out to prove you don't have to illegally enhance your performance to compete. While pessimists say the only way to win such long stage races is to—for lack of a better term—cheat, Argos-Shimano qualified and greatly succeeded—winning four sprint stages—at the 2013 Tour de France.
While this documentary gives cycling fans plenty of optimism for a sport that could one day become devoid of drug use, "Clean Spirit" also provides amazing, personal insights into the chaotic world of professional cycling.
My Italian Secret: The Forgotten Heroes2014 5 of 7
More a documentary about heroism during World War II than it is about cycling, this film follows the brave exploits of cycling legend Gino Bartali, who participated in a secret underground network to protect Jews from Nazi persecution. With most of the continent of Europe engulfed in genocide, thanks to the efforts of unheralded heroes like Bartali, over 80 percent of Italian Jews survived.
This is a tragic but gripping documentary highly recommended to anyone who enjoys a little history with their cycling.
Rising From Ashes2012 6 of 7
A nation grappling with the aftermath of a horrific genocide looks to a cycling team for hope and optimism. You might not think of Rwanda as a cycling mecca, but after watching this documentary—where Rwanda attempts to qualify for the 2012 Summer Olympics with a band of genocide survivors—you'll walk away thinking cycling is as important to this East African nation as soccer is to, well, the rest of the world.
A beautifully executed feat of storytelling, this documentary will make you glad you skipped a day in the saddle.