A Santa Barbara local who hitchhiked along the Tour de France route in 2005 is now offering locals a chance to experience the ride for themselves – no passports or bicycles required.
Tonight, longtime area resident Steve Manis will screen a self-produced documentary of his journey through the famous cycling course at the Marjorie Luke Theater in downtown Santa Barbara. Manis said that the free film, dubbed “Traveling with Lance Through France,” is not only an inside look at the 2,241-mile bike race and the well-known cyclist Lance Armstrong, but is also a tribute to what he called “the lost art of hitchhiking.”
Manis said he interviewed every person who gave him a ride during the two weeks he traveled on the tour – including a 1968 Olympic skiing medalist and a helicopter pilot – using a high definition camera he had to tow for the entire duration of the trip.
In addition, Manis spoke with Armstrong outside one of his many host vehicles throughout the journey.
“My challenge was, after Lance would come by and I would see him for 15 seconds, to get to the next stage of the race,” he said.
Manis said that he decided to film his documentary from a hitchhiker’s point of view because of his desire to cover the Tour de France from a different angle than that of traditional news- or sports-style reporting. According to Manis, it is this unique approach to filming and production that makes his documentary appealing to a variety of different audiences – especially local cyclists, film students, hitchhikers and French enthusiasts, he said.
Manis, who has been a Santa Barbara resident for the past 21 years, said hitchhiking was his sole method of traveling during the entire trip.
“I hitchhiked the full way and didn’t miss a stage,” he said.
Manis said he considers his project “a French film made by an American,” noting that about 60 percent of the movie’s audio track is in French. Because of this, Manis said, the two-hour documentary is dually subtitled in both English and French. .
“I don’t have a narrator because I did not want either language to suffer,” Manis said. “The movie is really a window into French culture, because the majority of people who picked me up were indeed French.”
The film’s release was timed to coincide with the upcoming visit from cyclists racing in the Amgen Tour of California – a 600-mile biking competition down the state’s coastline – as they pass through Santa Barbara on Saturday.
The screening of “Traveling with Lance Through France” begins at 7 p.m. at 721 East Cota Street.