What do we mean when we talk about the connection between bike, body and trail? How do small changes in bike set up change the way you move? How about a whole new bike?
My chapter, “Technology, Equipment and the Mountain Biker’s Taskscape,” was recently published in Women in Action Sport Cultures: Identity, Politics and Experience, edited by Holly Thorpe and Rebecca Olive. Drawing on theory from anthropology and phenomenology, this chapter looks at some of the behavioural and social implications of the cycling industry’s shift to design bikes with female riders in mind. It draws on my work as an academic in conjunction with my work as a product tester working for bike media.
Research exploring risk in sport tends to focus on the relationship between behaviour and action from a psychological or subcultural standpoint. In this chapter I explore the variable ways technology mediates experiences between body and world, action and perception. I do this by drawing on insights from phenomenology and anthropology to investigate recent developments in bike design aimed at improving the ride experiences of female mountain bikers. This foregrounds the role technology and equipment can have on the development of confident ‘I cans’, demonstrating the impact equipment has not just on performance, but on behaviour and embodied perceptions of risk. By exploring the way new technology mediates individual and social experiences in mountain biking, this chapter reveals the dynamic relations between equipment, perception, cognition and performance.
The book brings together compelling perspectives from a range of academic disciplines on sports including climbing, parkour, snowboarding, surfing, mixed martial arts, roller derby and biking. It makes me proud to be a rider, and proud to be part of this growing, global research community as well. You can read more about the book, including previews of other chapters, here.
If you can’t track down a copy of the book through a university library, but are interested to learn more, please get in touch.
Photos, including a couple of the local ride crew in Sydney: Kath Bicknell