This lovely postcard, which we received from Finland through PostCrossing, is a fake, an evocation of the scene from the film, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, when Katherine Ross rides a bike instead of Paul Newman. It’s an imagined moment in a wonderful movie, evoking the decade when safety bikes, real modern bikes, became common and bank robbery became less common. If you’re not a cycling geek, you might remember this scene as the occasion for “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head,” but to me now, it’s a moment of cycling.
There isn’t a shot precisely like this in the film because Katharine Ross didn’t ride the bike; she watched Paul Newman ride, and she rode on the handlebars as he cycled. Newman did wonderful acrobatics on the bike, easily comfortable on it, including headstands and more. Nevertheless, besides being beautiful, the post card evokes the possibilities that
cycling offered, sex top of the list, at that moment before the world changed, a theme the movie plays with. It’s been suggested that the bicycle raised the intelligence of England by allowing the genetic mixing of villages that previously were too far apart to build relationships. Certainly bicycles advanced the cause of women’s suffrage.
Back to Butch Cassidy. The photograph was reinvented by Victoria Pendelton, looking very much like Katharine Ross in this photograph, but in charge of the bike. Right on, Victoria!