NZ mountain bike rage – academically speaking

Leading up to next month’s SSWC, I’ve been looking at how mountain biking is being represented in academic literature – and the answer is quite poorly! Poor as in interest, detail and a general paucity of coverage. It is an area I am keen to contribute to myself. So finding an academic article analysing a mountain bike rage incident is a rare gem and very surprising!

This article details a very well-known 2012 mountain bike rage incident. It is a very well known ‘bike rage’  incident within the MTB fraternity that happened between two mountain-bikers who met on a trail in NZ. It is also the first ‘bike rage’ incident caught on camera. (If you have not seen the 5.45 mins video – have a look below).

 

The  mountain bike rage article

Reference: Lloyd, M. (2015). On the Way to Cycle Rage: Disputed Mobile Formations. Mobilities, 1-21.

Essentially, this article provides an overview of the incident in question and frames the research analysis about investigating the basis for this ‘disputed mobile formation’. For an academic article, it is an easy read – the ideas flow nicely and do not go into too much conceptual detail – but enough to be well positioned and unique in its contribution.

Here is the abstract:

NZ Mountain biker trail rage

In this article, Mike Lloyd (the author) builds on McIvenny’s (2015, 2016) work on ‘velomobile formations’ – and is the first academic paper focus on analysing an event that is mountain bike specific and INTRA-biker rage related – as opposed to multiple trial user contestation – walker, biker, runners and the like.

Methodology

The use of GoPros is introduced as the data collection method, and then ‘mobile video ethnography’ analysis is applied alongside Google map images being intertwined with the author’s practical knowledge experience of mountain biking to draw analytical conclusions about the situation. I like this approach as it is encouraging to see adventurous, experimental research techniques being out there.

Ideas & terminology

I like how Mike draws parallels with Cohen and Taylor’s (1976) ‘landscape activity enclave’ to explain how both riders came to be in the same situated location at the same time. His analysis also includes audio (direct quotes) and visual (stills) to describe and account for the interactions that transpire. In reading the article, I think he does a good job of linking other theoretical perspectives into his interpretation – with phrases such as ‘entangled riding’ ‘threat-demonstration-justification’ ‘cyclist-bike assemblage’ and ‘amputation explanation’ and weaving in aspects of other contested dynamics, such as driver (car) road rage, surfer ‘drop-in’ rules, this article certainly covers a lot of ground in a single snapshot.

This situation did raise local and international debates around mountain biking trail courtesy, fast/slow rider entitlements and discussions about track use among others. Ultimately, the outcome of the video saw Dalton (the older rider) going to court and paying $750 in damages. Aside from this being an interesting academic article to read, the fact that it is on mountain biking, which I have long held is grossly underrepresented (as a sport, leisure pursuit and cultural activity, etc.). Equally, it is refreshing to see a more experimental methodology being applied for analysis, as well as seeing swearing being included in academic annals.

 

If you read through the comment made on the Vital MTB site where this video went viral – they are quite interesting as well.  Happy trials & journal articles!!

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