By Kate Agathon
May 17, 2023, Cycling is an emotional experience. It can be joyful. It can be heartbreaking. It can be empowering.
Just ask Golden-based lawyer Megan Hottman (aka The Cyclist-Lawyer), who is one of six bicyclists featured in The Engine Inside, the newest cycling film coming out this summer by Anthill Films.
Narrated by Phil Ligget, The Engine Inside shares the stories of bicyclists from all over the globe who reveal the unique power of the bicycle to change lives and build a better world. “I feel incredibly honored to be featured as one of the six people in this film, when I know that Anthill Films had a long list of amazing humans with amazing stories to choose from,” said Hottman.
Hottman is well-known in the cycling community for her dedication to making Colorado a better place for bicyclists. Her tireless work on behalf of all bicyclists has resulted in numerous, and hard-fought positive outcomes for the cycling community.
She notably represented the family of U.S. Masters road race champion (and friend and former teammate) Gwen Inglis who was killed by a driver in 2021 and was awarded an unprecedented $353 million verdict in a civil lawsuit against the driver.
The Engine Inside offers a rare glimpse into how Hottman experiences the world as a bicyclist- both in public and private life.
Specifically, the film captures Hottman at her most vulnerable- at a ghost bike dedication for Inglis shortly after she was struck and killed by a driver. Or, when Hottman herself is hit by a pickup truck driver and suffers serious injuries.
Hottman said, “One part I am happiest about is the inclusion of Gwen’s story in my section- and that now she’ll be known and honored globally everywhere the film is shown. It’s one small way to keep her name and legacy alive and shared.”
“I’m not afraid to show my emotions -on film or off- as we’re all in this human experience together and it’s hard. To pretend otherwise does our experiences a disservice. I am who I am, real and raw, and at times emotional. I’m glad the film captures that range of emotions not just in my story but in other character stories as well,” she continued.
While a bicycle can have a positive impact on physical and mental health, it can also be utilized as a powerful tool for social change, as Hottman demonstrates.
Catalyst for Change
By deconstructing the lived experiences of bicyclists, The Engine Inside urges audiences to consider what can be accomplished by simply riding a bike. What change can we make every time we get on the saddle?
Transcending geographical borders, economic circumstances, and language barriers, the transformative power of the bicycle to those who use it in their daily lives is inspiring.
“We were looking for really well rounded people that had an amazing story to tell, and that each had a connection to the bicycle from a different perspective,” explained The Engine Inside director Darcy Wittenburg.
“Although there is some overlap with some of them, they each represent some of the major ways bicycles help humanity from mental health to transportation and everything in between,” she continued.
The narratives shared by The Engine Inside are as diverse as its six participants. Their stories confront a culture that revolves around cars, and encompass global issues that range from climate change, more livable cities, socio-economic inequality, and indigenous trauma.
Despite often formidable personal and systematic obstacles to overcome, each bicyclist used the bicycle as a catalyst for hope and agency.
Threading their powerful stories into a cohesive narrative was also a challenge. “There’s so many ways to look at this as it was a challenging project all around! Narrowing down the vast world of cycling into an 80-minute film was probably the first and ongoing challenge for us,” said Wittenburg.
“The main motivation was to focus the film on personal stories that many people can relate to. It was a tricky balance keeping the topic of cycling in the background so the characters’ connection to cycling could shine through,” she added.
Sponsored by Hottman Law Office, The Engine Inside Golden premiere will take place 5:30 to 8 PM on June 29 at the American Mountaineering Center in Golden. Tickets are $10 and may be purchased here. Proceeds will benefit Bike JeffCo.
“We’re really excited to be part of sharing a film that has the potential to change how bicyclists are perceived! The bicycle is truly a vehicle for making change, both in individuals and communities,” said Bike Jeffco Chair, Jan Stevenson.
“From the time you are a new rider, you learn how to be resilient, how to navigate, how to solve problems. You build confidence in your ability to get things done. These stories take that confidence and show how to elevate these abilities to bigger solutions to bigger problems,” she continued.
Stevenson remarked how fitting it was that The Engine Inside’s overarching theme intersects with the mission of Bike Jeffco. “We want to share the joy of biking! The shared global stories really highlight the wide range of positive impacts that simply riding a bike and having access to bikes, can bring to a community,” she said. “Biking is fun, exhilarating, and hard work all at once! The sense of freedom and empowerment that comes with the ability to control where and when we go places is huge,” concluded Stevenson.
Bike Jeffco will be holding a Meet and Greet at Colorado Tap House on June 10 from 10 AM to 2 PM. Learn more about their advocacy and about the Golden premiere of The Engine Inside.
Watch the Film!
Check out the official trailer for The Engine Inside- a new documentary about the often-overlooked, world-changing potential of the bicycle.
Save the Date!
Sponsored by Hottman Law Office, The Engine Inside Golden premiere will take place 5:30 to 8 PM on June 29 at the American Mountaineering Center in Golden. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased here. Ticket proceeds will benefit Bike JeffCo.
Photo Credits: Natalie Starr, Anthill Films