Film and TV

Cyclist needs insulin, filmmaker needs cash for documentary The Thin Line

The Tour Divide is a harrowing bike race. And that's true even if you don't have diabetes. The 2,745 mile race follows the Continental Divide from Banff, Alberta to Antelope Wells, New Mexico and challenges racers to complete the distance unsupported by anyone else and living off the food and water they can carry on their backs. Coloradoan Jarral Ryter will start this ambitious journey today, and in addition to carrying his tent, food, and water, he'll also have to carry insulin for his Type I diabetes. Ryter's nephew, filmmaker Kyan Krumdieck, will be following Ryter by car on this journey and making a documentary about the ordeal, and he needs your help to do it.

Fresh from screening his short film, Peep Show, at Cannes, Krumdieck is a Colorado-born, New Zealand-raised filmmaker. He says the idea for him to make this documentary initially came out of family concern for Ryter's safety. "It started off as my mom saying, 'We have to have a car near him,'" Krumdieck remembers. "We know that the car can't help him in any way, but if his blood sugar does get low and he's in the middle of the New Mexican desert and it's literally a hundred miles to the nearest farm house, he could quite easily die." Krumdieck's grandparents decided to take their RV along the route, and Krumdieck will follow with a film crew to document parts of the trip for a documentary titled The Thin Line.

While the documentary will focus on Ryter's epic bicycle trip, Krumdieck says that he is also looking to find parallel stories along the way that follow people who are also tackling big obstacles. "The theme that I want is of someone against all odds choosing quite an extreme, sort of ridiculous, giant thing that they're going to do," Krumdieck explains. "I also like the theme of someone having to constantly maintain their existence. Every four hours he has to check his blood sugar and he has to keep track of how many calories he's burning every hour and how much food he's taking in and how much insulin he's injecting, so he's having to do all those sorts of equations every hour of the entire race for a month."

The film crew plans to make stops along the way to supplement the story with interviews with Ryter's wife, children, and parents about their feelings toward his trip, as well as stories with more abstract connections. One story Krumdieck will dig into is in Tuba City, Arizona at a Navajo reservation that's contaminated by uranium. "There was a lot of mining in the area in the 60s, and their land is still contaminated with uranium. But no one's legally recognized that and the mining company hasn't had to pay anything for it," explains Krumdieck. "The self maintenance is that they constantly have to truck in their own water and food."

Along the way, Krumdieck will document and have to face his own big obstacle, though he recognizes that it seems laughably trivial compared to his uncle's: he has to learn to drive. During the tail end of the trip, Krumdieck will be the only one on the road, and that means he has to learn during the first part and pass a driver's test en route. "I kind of have a neurotic fear of winding highways and driving," says Krumdieck. "It's kind of pathetically small in comparison to what he's doing. It's parallel to him and it's a big thing for me, but compared to biking all the way it's not that big of a thing."

Overall, Krumdieck says he hopes the film will be inspirational as well as entertaining and help chronicle the ways that people battle their own personal obstacles. "We're going down the spine of the country and really getting a cross-section of people in America," says Krumdieck. "I'd like to see where Americans are after the recession and to sort of see how people, given their own problems like diabetes, what big things they're trying to do to overcome them."

To help fund expenses like gas and money for campsites, The Thin Line has an IndieGoGo campaign running for $3000 to get the crew across the country. You can donate through June 26 for a variety of rewards (including a postcard from the road, Ryter's book, Mountain Biking: Colorado's Front Range, and quilted landscape art by Krumdieck's grandmother) here. For more information on the progress of the journey, like The Thin Line on Facebook or email Krumdieck at [email protected]

Follow us on Twitter!

Like us on Facebook!

KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Robin Edwards
Contact: Robin Edwards