Kath Bicknell

The proceedings from the Australian Cycling Conference, “Everybody’s Cycling?” have now been published online. Even if you’re not into the academic side of things, I’d encourage you to take a look. There are so many interesting projects happening… Read More

Macquarie University in Sydney hosted the 2013 conference for the Australasian Skill Acquisition Research Group – ASARG. This yearly event pulls together thinkers from a variety of disciplines with an interest in skilled performance, particularly in sport. Read More

iPhone photography

When it was announced that I’d won the prize for Best Academic Paper at the 2013 Australian Cycling Conference I probably would have fallen off my chair had I been able to move. The prize was for the written version of the paper, submitted before the conference began, and recognises not just the quality of my work, but the relevance it holds to the work of others.

Most of the people presenting at this conference are involved in projects that make the sport of cycling more accessible to the wider Australian community or are looking at data indicating ways in which that community can grow. There were a lot of graphs.

As I sat there listening to people talk about these projects over the two-day event, I kept thinking how lucky I was to be sitting in a room full of people who make the world I live in a better place. But not just for cyclists, for other people too – whether it’s building a bike path that encourages people to get outside and walk as well, or working strategically to develop safer commuting routes which reduce traffic congestion and improve the landscape of certain areas along the way. Projects that encourage more people to get involved in the sport have the potential to really change people’s confidence, sense of self, physical health and mobility, and the ease of their day-to-day.

I take riding and bike facilities for granted sometimes, but sitting in this room made me so grateful for the work people do to make them a reality. It’s certainly motivating to know that the work I do can have an impact in these areas as well, but for me the real impact is the lessons I learned at this conference from others.

There were two other prizes awarded; one for best student paper and one for a practitioner. Both other recipients are a similar age to me indicating that there’s a whole lot of exciting work to come from people who are at the beginning of this journey too.

Next year’s conference will merge into the international Velo-City conference in May. If you work in any area of cycling I encourage you to come along and see how far reaching this sport really is.

Photo: Kath Bicknell

Australian Cycling Conference – Everybody’s Cycling?

Past proceedings from the Australian Cycling Conference suggest that, at least locally, much of the research discussed there examines issues relating to uptake, infrastructure, sustainability, commuting, tourism and risk factors. When I sat down to write a paper proposal for the 2013 conference, there were two things I wanted to contribute from my own work. One was ideas about how we can look toward the actual experience of cycling to discover more about the sport and the theory often used to discuss it. Given there is so much writing on the web from cyclists, about the diverse experiences had through the sport, the second thing I wanted to discuss was how we might be able to consider writing such as this as part of a broader academic method. The full abstract for the paper is below.

The conference takes place in Adelaide, during the Tour Down Under, from 21-22 January. If you’re interested in finding out more about the topics to be covered there, have a look at the program on the website. Research from the conference will be published after the event.

 

Everybody’s Writing

Kath Bicknell

 

As participation in cycling grows, so does the amount of research on the sport. But this writing often falls short of accurately conveying the experience of cycling – what it feels like to pedal along on two wheels, and how these experiences are understood through a complex interaction of sophisticated sensory pathways.

 

One place that is rife with detailed accounts of riding is the blogosphere. Online communities of mountain bikers (as an example of one particular cycling culture) provide countless, reflective, first person reports of riding. These reveal the myriad experiences had while racing, travelling and preparing for the next event. Although heavily coded with insider terminology, these accounts provide rich descriptions of what anthropologist, Michael Jackson, would call the rider’s ‘lifeworld’.

 

This paper discusses some of the opportunities these data provide for theoretical arguments about sport and performance. By considering the experience of riding in all its lived complexity, we can then build upon ideas about embodied action and awareness to reflect upon a wide range of other circumstances, projects and events.

 

The 2012 Cultural Studies Association of Australasia (CSAA) conference kicks off next week. The theme for this one is Materialities: Economies, Empiricism and Things. They like big conceptual words in cultural studies, the nuances of which are always… Read More