Playing host to a big idea, Project Pedal is dedicated to the encounters of two twenty-something cyclists traveling 4,300 miles, cross-country from Anacortes, Washington to Bar Harbor, Maine. Since 2002, Graphic designer, Michael Ambs, has been developing the project in conjunction with friend, Amanda Walker. The Black Sheep, a Brussels-based film crew, known for their direction of Belgian band Milk Inc.’s 2006 re-make video of “Tainted Love,” jumped on board in December 2004. In an interview with JetSet, Ambs said the project is neither a “how-to” documentary, nor a tribute to adventure cycling. It is mainly about the people that the cyclists meet along their journey, and how each personal story they encounter becomes entwined with the travelers’ own experiences. The first installment of the video podcast won Ambs his budget, coming in first in a network2 “How to Watch Internet TV” contest, which reaped a $25,000 award. Traveling the Adventure Cycling Association’s Northern Route from June to August 2007, Ambs plans to use the vlgos and other footage collected along the way as the starting point for a feature-length documentary.
The concept of the show is intriguing and the developers have painstakingly thought-out project details, from practical concerns such as the cost and timeline, to creative intent including a focus on the diversity of people’s experiences. In his synopsis of the project, Ambs explains its roots and discusses his desire to examine what motivates an individual to take on a journey of such magnitude. For other insightful details, the project pedal blog provides a clear evolution of the concept, as well as its design and aspirations are shared on, which is updated regularly, while an interactive map clears-up any route questions users may have. The roughly five-minute weekly episodes pack in a lot of information, relying on innovative technique coupled with an easy narrative style that hooks viewers and succinctly tells a story. The second episode outlines the logistics of the project with the help of a sharpie, an expert stick figure artist, and a little video manipulation. Episode 3 serves as the show’s “casting call” and films Ambs’ daily routine, using captions and a soundtrack of tranquil techno beats to provide would-be cast members some sample submission guidelines, and subtly communicate the type of connection the developers want to establish with travelers along the route. For more info, each page contains a varying set of endnote links about the crew, contributors, how to get involved, Ambs’ 2005 Pacific bike trip or the budget. On the whole, the site is definitely one to watch.
Episode 1 which describes Ambs’ first experience with long-distance cycling in 2001 is informative and inspirational. He touches upon the importance of random connections and the drive it takes to accomplish a something that is both intimidating and unknown.