Asia-Pacific Cycle Congress

This time last week, the Asia-Pacific Cycle Congress (APCC) was being held in Christchurch, NZ from Tuesday 17th Oct – Friday 20th Oct.

I wasn’t able to go as I had my PhD Confirmation paper and seminar due smack in the middle – doh! Otherwise, I would have been there for sure and I had a session to present. It will just have to wait until next year!

What was on at the Asia-Pacific Cycle Congress?

The program for this year looked jammed packed full of interesting sessions. Check out the program link below and see what session takes your fancy.

Get the APCC Program and daily schedule here.Asia-Pacific Cycle Congress - Bicycles Create

The link above also gives the daily schedule and a number of the speakers provided their presentations for public distribution.

All sessions were divided into these key themes:

Asia-Pacific Cycling Congress - Bicycles Create

I like that there was also a bit of personality coming through – as evidence,  I was delighted to see Jo Clendon’s poster abstract had a footnote for the term ‘bike user’ as being:

Asia-Pacific Cycling Congress - Bicycles Create

The APCC event is a great forum to share ideas and get inspired. I would have like to have seen more Asia-Pacific-ness in the mix (very Oceania focused). As far as I could see there were no sessions from East Asia, South Asia or Southeast Asia – and there are some amazing projects going on there!

I hope to see more recognition for countries that are not usually considered to be ‘cycling’ countries to be better represented, included and instrumental in biking discourse and practice. I’d like to see more initiatives from India, Indonesia, Philippines, Timor, Malaysia, Sri Lanka and the like. I know it is far to travel to NZ from these countries, but I’d really dig seeing some more diversity and range of contexts and ‘life world’ experiences in this conference’s program (in fact in all ALL conference programs!).

Who was presenting?

As you would expect, there were HEAPS of NZ presenters covering a massive array of planning, economic, behavioural, community, research and other projects – impressive!

As I have said before, NZ is by far whooping AUS arse on so many fronts (least of all NBN, Politics, Supporting Outdoor Industries to name a few). However, NZ’s progressive, strategic and forward-thinking development and integration of cycling an biking nationwide are envious. I go to Rotorua every year to ride and have posted before on a number of fun and admirable aspects of how riding and bike feature prominently in NZ.

I’ve also said before how easy, convent, and enjoyable it is being a cycling tourist in NZ. I’ve posted on how easy it is to get around in Rotorua, and some of their great community projects like the Dad’s n Lads bike events, as well as the formidable urban strategic plans within the major cities ( like Rotorua) that make biking a normalised way of getting around town – as well as being part of the larger picture to connect the whole country from top to bottom by bike paths – awesome! So NZ is by far a cycling leader on many fronts – and AUS would do well to learn from their NZ counterparts.


Asia-Pacific Cycling Congress - Bicycles Create

I was happy to see Brisbane represented:

  • Mark Pattemore’s (Brisbane City Council) Better bikeways for Brisbane.
  • Sarah Wilkinson (QLD Government) Cost-Benefit analysis of recent major cycling investments across QLD.
  • Narelle Haworth (QLD), Kristin Heesch (QLD) & Ashim Kumar Debath (VIC) Individual & Environmental Correlates of motorists passing distance of bicycle riders

As well as other Aussie presenters:

  • Cameron Munro (CDM Research, Melb) Designing for Bike Riders on local road roundabouts
  • Peter Metcalf (Wagners, Aust) Cycling the Hawkes Bay NZ region in safety with the aid of a clip on cycleway

And some OS delegates:

  • Tom Ransom (Isle of Wight, UK) School travel behaviour change
  • Thomas Stokell (USA) Bike Data Analysis – a comparison between 21,000 NZ riders and 180,000 riders from around the world
  • Jurgen Gerlach (Germany) with Axel Wilke (NZ) & Alistair Woodward (NZ) Safe…. but only if it’s efficient
  • Tyler Golly  (Canada) & Ryan Martinson (Canada) How to achieve rapid change for cycling outcomes

There were so many great NZ sessions that it would be too much to include here – suffice to say, it is well worth checking out the program link above in bold to see which session is most interesting for you.

October is the month for it!

The APCC is run in conjunction with Biketober, Christchurch’s month long celebration of all things bikes. Seems like October is the month for such events if Bike Palooza (Bendigo, VIC) and Biketober (Christchurch, NZ) is anything to go by!

Here is some of what is on for Christchurch’s Biketober.

Asia-Pacific Cycling Congress - Bicycles Create

Signs in Rotorua NZ

For my last post to wrap up my mountain biking trip to Rotorua NZ, here is a selection of the signs I’ve seen this trip.  These signs added extra humour, interest or general ‘bikiness’ to this last trip which I really appreciated – pretty much every one of them made me smile.


 In order of sighting – here are the signs that made me smile this trip

  1. At Auckland airport I saw this sign high up on a cafe wall – not only was it quintessentially NZ with the the rugby reference, but I also spotted the artist’s signature (bottom left) which was a bicycle, so I knew we were off to a good start and welcomed and understood by our NZ cousins.

Signs in Rotorua


2. On the transit bus from Auckland to Rotorua I saw this on the back of a grey nomad’s van.

Signs in Rotorua, NZ
Source: Dawanda


3. I appreciated this sign as I had not seen it before and I thought it was good way of explaining how traffic (and other road users like road riders) need to converge.

Signs in Rotorua


4. We got into Rotorua and built the bikes for a quick ride in Whakarewarewa Forest. The systems of trails there are so well signed – with all the details you need to know…AND all one way  – bliss!!

Signs in Rotorua


5. I love this sign at the end of Split Enz trail as you come off the logged mountain side and back into the forest – GOLD!

Signs in Rotorua


6. After a great days riding, I’d take Eagle vs Shark as my last trail off the mountain and fly down the road for a feed and a beer at the bottom. Then heading back into town on Sala St there was this sign, which I thought was a great safety reminder to look for cyclists.

Signs in Rotorua


7. One afternoon we cruised into town to visit the bike shops. In the Specialized store there was this display promoting their ‘CycleZone women’s riding month Women on Wheels Photo Competition’.

Signs in Rotorua


8. The we popped into Bike Culture and I saw this hanging on the wall – stoked to see it was the same artist as the first sign from the airport! And another a very pertinent reminder to keep supporting local bike shops as well!

Signs in Rotorua


9. I’ve always said that Rotorua is all over the ‘support MTB as a positive tourist development initiative’ and is a great example for other cities (take notes Brisbane!). Not only is cycling actively supported by local council, small business, infrastructure and the like, but as this empty shopfront at a major intersection in town shows, even vacant windows are used to endorse biking (a little hard to see in these pictures, but you get the idea).

This vacant shop window has been utilised to display massive pictures of local mountain bike trails. Best of all the rider in the picture is female (right) and there are details promoting the Rotorua Bike Festival (left). How easy and effective is it to encourage bike tourism?! Nice one Rotorua!

Signs in Rotorua


10. Although I didn’t focus on it, I did appreciate that at the bottom of the sings for the advanced trails, there was a smaller separate sign that has ‘In an emergency’ details.

These signs were particularly effective (can’t see it fully in this photo) as they very simply gave the emergency number to call (great for overseas visitors – just in case). But also gave the ‘address’ which is the location where the sign is in the forest, so that the ambulance knows exactly where you are.

Again, just another simple, but effective way to make the area so much more easier to use and less stressful. Brilliant!

Signs in Rotorua


11. The bathroom of the mountain bike cafe Zippy has this sign over the communal basin to encourage people to wash their hands – It reads ‘I got worms!! I’ll tell you how I go them, I didn’t wash my hands and how they are in my bottom!” Hilarious!

Signs in Rotorua


12.  On leaving Rotorua to come home, we passed many HOBBITON tourist attractions – so I just couldn’t resist including this one!

Signs in Rotorua

NZ Downhill Mountain Bike Subculture

For my first post for 2017, I am keen to revisit one of the main reasons why I started this blog – which was as an adjunct to my PhD bicycle research and to help disseminate interesting academic research on bikes and cycling. So I am super excited about the research presented in this post, as this paper couldn’t be more perfect in paying homage to this blog’s humble research beginnings and considering  my fantastic 11-day mountain bike trip to Rotorua NZ is now coming to and end. I love the ideas of the first post for 2017 being research based on riding in New Zealand (and written by a top chick too!).

Although this blog has presented two other academic articles (by the same NZ academic) focused on a specific NZ bike rage incident (one from a sociological/biker perspective, the other from a videography analysis/micro-sociological point of view) – this is the first thesis and the first relating to downhill in NZ.

Such particular research is VERY hard to find in academic publications- so finding this paper made me very happy!!

I have been very keen to share this post for quite a while and now is the perfect time!

(I’m also excited as I have now found out how to attach the PDF document so that you can download a copy directly if wanted (see end of post).


Background on Scarlett Hagen and the NZ Downhill research

This research is Scarlett Hagen’s 2013 Masters of Physical Education thesis which investigates the Downhill MTB subculture in NZ. What a great topic to choose! I was stoked when I found this thesis last year as there is so few mountain bike specific research circulating.

I was drawn to this study for a number of reasons. Primarily because Scarlett is a former Junior Downhill Mountain Bike World Champion (2004). I much prefer academic research being undertaken by those who are embedded and who are participant researchers as opposed to external academics coming in and studying a demographic with little lived experience of the phenomenon being explored. The discussion is far more rich in detail and insights. Secondly, it is expanding an area that is sorely overlooked and misunderstood (DH), both in academia and the public spheres. It is written by an athlete-turned-researcher, features 3 top female athletes among the participants,  it is incredibly well written and engaging to read, is supported by sound and thorough methodology and academic analysis, and is a truly valuable addition to extending understanding about the DH culture and lifestyle. In so many ways this research is setting precedence and breaking stereotypes – as well as being a cracking good read!

Last year the Southland Times ran an article on Scarlett which reported that her Master thesis “was the first time the sport was the subject of a master’s thesis and earned her the highest grade possible (A+) and an almost $100,000 scholarship over three years to complete at PhD – work that is now underway. She is studying the sociology and psychology behind mountain biking and she hopes will contribute to understanding of the motivations and requirements of  mountain biking tourists and contribute to understanding of the trails for performance athletes.” It also gave some more details on Scarlett’s background and her business BikeSchool.

At this stage of my own PhD (coming up to my Early Candidature Milestone), it is very inspiring and motivating to read such a well written and reasoned study where bicycles create change.

Scarlett Hagen
Source: Eye of @ pinkbike
Scarlett Hagen
Source: MTB news

Research Participants

The five NZ downhill research participants for this study were:  Amy Laird, Cameron Cole, Gabby Moolloy, Lauren Campbell and Wyn Masters.

Thesis Overview

Taken from the first paragraph in the Abstract, here is the overview in the author’s own words:

The Downhill Mountain Bike Subculture in New Zealand
Source: The Downhill Mountain Bike Subculture in New Zealand by Scarlett Hagen (2013) MPhEd.


Some key takeaways

The paper begins with a discussion about subculture and the different views and definitions of what a subculture is. It applies post-modernist subcultural theory to the NZ downhill experience. The reasoning for downhill being an ‘extreme sport subculture’ is supported convincingly with demographic links and evidence based on age, ethnicity, location, gender and environment. It also outlines four main extreme sport experiences and builds a detailed case about the impact and identitifcation of subcultural experiences, quality of life and life stages.

I highly recommend having a read over the Introduction as there are some really convincing parallels drawn that all riders will be able to identify with. There will certainly be some recognisable commonalities regarding aspects of style and aesthetics like clothing, technology, music and language choices.

This whole document is well worth a read.

One of my favourite sections is the 30-page discussion section titled ‘Downhill Devotion’. It covers some very pertinent and interesting features of Downhill culture which brought back many happy memories working with Downhill teams. Some aspects that particularly made me smile were:

  • competition vs leisure aspects (pg 107)
  • the role of ‘flow’ when riding (pg 110)
  • initiation and inclusion  (pg 104)
  • authenticity within the downhill subculture (pg 83 & 108)
  • personality traits of downhillers (down to how they walk  pg 109)
  • the role of reputation (pg 117)
  • some insights into the link between gender and drinking in DH (pg 119)
  • the element of addiction and the psychological impacts of DH (p121)

The whole paper is very deserving of the A+ mark it received. If you are a mountain bike rider of any sort, you can pretty much start reading anywhere and find something of value and interest.

I am still going back a rereading sections.  I found the whole project incredibly well structured and engaging to read –  have a look and find out what part resonates with you!


Final notes and comments

Having worked at World Cup events and being married to a top mechanic for elite UCI Downhill & Crankworx riders, I was very happy to see a mention and acknowledgement by the author to the input that mechanics (among others) had during her formative riding years. Such support crews are very often forgotten and under-appreciated.

It is also great to see women being so prominently featured in this downhill study.

Great also to see mountain bikers moving into various spaces to promote and encourage understanding about different styles and formats of mountain biking – an area I am keen to contribute to in some way this year as well.

So hats of to Scarlett for producing such rigorous, high-quality, impactful, trailblazing research. I hope her work helps increase support, interest and attention for DH, NZ and mountain biking.


Get the thesis here:

The Downhill Mountain Bike Subculture in New Zealand by Scarlett Hagen (2013) MPhEd

Scarlett Hagen
Scarlett Hagen
Source: Bowen House
Scarlett Hagen
Source: Descent

Rotorua’s Tree of Bikes

Imagine my surprise when arriving in New Zealand, I saw another bicycle-inspired ‘Christmas’ Tree! After having just left Brisbane a week ago and seeing Brisbane’s bicycle-powered Christmas Tree at South Bank, I found that New Zealand have their own spin on the bicycle-themed (Christmas) Tree.


NZ’s Tree of Bikes

Just like my PhD topic, NZ’s Tree of Bikes was specifically designed to raise awareness of the vital role that bicycles play in getting children who live in extreme poverty to school – awesome!

The NZ Tree of Bikes is the brain child of ChildFund and was created in collaboration with Enterprize Steel and Beca Engineers. It was originally erected in Queens Street Wharf, Auckland for Christmas last year (2014/5). Aside from raising awareness about bicycle-for-education needs in developing nations, the tree was also a focus point to promote ChildFund’s Gifts that Grow program during Christmas. Although the Gifts that Grow program doesn’t have a specific bicycle-for-education option, it does provide aside range of immediate, sustainable, community-orientated and positive present-giving replacement options in a similar theme to Bicycle Create Change’s previous post of bicycle-inspried alternative ethical gift alternatives to help support other less fortunate and those living in extreme poverty.


The Tree of Bikes Origin

There are two versions of the NZ Tree of Bikes. Bother trees have the same structure, features and function.

For example, the first Auckland Tree of Bikes was a 7-meter high Bicycle ‘Christmas’ Tree that had a central steel structure that was adored by 120 up-cycled bicycles and an array of bike parts. The 120 bicycles that make up this tree were all donated by local Aucklanders and after the tree was exhibited over Christmas, the tree was dismantled and the all the bicycles were donated to local community groups like the Refugee Centre.

The Auckland Tree of Bikes was so popular and successful, that a similar, second tree was organised and installed in March 2016 by the Rotorua Lakes Council to coincide with Crankworx Rotorua. It was great to see local council getting behind the intiative and fully supporting the project by providing with a donation drop-off point, publicity and clearing the red tape to ensure that such a great project is endorsed, encouraged and prioritised. As with the Auckland Tree of Bikes, the local residents of Rotorua donated 150 bicycles and parts to create the 2016 Bike Tree public art instillation that featured prominently at the Crankworx Village Green.


Rotorua Bike Tree
Source: Radio NZ:Andrew McRae

Why can’t all local councils be as forward thinking as Rotorua?

Although a seemingly small project, the Rotorua Tree of Bikes is yet again another example of how NZ finds innovative, community-based initiatives that are interesting, promote cycling and increase positive community participation.

Last year when we came to Rotorua for a similar mountain bike trip, I posted on the impressive infrastructure plans and that the local, regional and national NZ Municipalities had in relation to the Rotorua Urban Cycling Strategic Plan 2015-2018. Previously and currently, the local Rotorua Council continue to invest and support development that ensures and cements Rotorua as the premier mountain biking Mecca for the Southern Hemisphere. With such committed political and community investment, the benefits are paying off as word spreads in the mountain bike and enduro scene that Rotorua is the one of the best places to ride.

Why is it so hard for the rest of the world (and Brisbane in particular) not to see that investing in road and trail cycling is profitable, positive and socially beneficial? Rotorua is a fantastic example of this can be mutually advantageous for  tourism and local businesses, as well as for bikers of all ages and stages.

So when you get here, I’ll either see you on the trails or under the Tree of Bikes!

The Need for Tweed

Guest blog post by Bear Racy.  

Bear is a cycling enthusiast, intrepid traveller, social commentator, artist and lover of life. In this post, Bear provides an alternative histo-cultural commentary on Tweed themed bike rides.

The Need For Tweed?

Even when done tongue-in-cheek, the popularity of hipsters wearing tweed and riding bikes together smacks of some kind of post-colonial irony. Why do we feel the need, the need for tweed?


On the 5th of November, the Wellington Bay area (NZ) was the latest participant in the growing trend of ‘tweed’ themed bicycle rides. Pitched by Bicycle Junction (NZ) as an event that celebrates the “inherent style and grace of one of the most enduring of humankind’s inventions in the fashion it was intended to be celebrated”, the ‘Need for Tweed’ bicycle ride saw a return to the itchy clothing made from herringbone woven wool known as Tweed.


All about Tweed.

Tweed was popularized by the Edwardian middle class because of its association with the outdoor activities of the leisurely elite. Apart from its grandiose connotations, tweed is a vintage outdoor textile that is moisture resistant and durable – great for cycling, hunting and riding in the cold British weather.

Once considered expensive and highly sought after, tweed signified that you had the time and the money to afford the most cutting edge of textiles, so you could spend your days hunting and riding in the upmost comfort. From this ideal of leisure came the idealization of leisure as a look, which became fashion. Fashion then drove those less well-off to emulate the image, if not the lifestyle, of their tweed slathered betters.

In the 40’s silk jerseys started to replace tweed in cycling and was invented just in time for the blossoming post-war marketing industry to realise that in the world of television advertising, cyclists could make a prominent moving billboard.  The silk jersey was brightly coloured to attract attention to the marketing and to identify the rider within the group. This became particularly useful in televised bicycle races where the spectator was able to easily pinpoint a rider by their jersey. Move forward to the invention of lycra and the colours and marketing have remained. Like tweed, you again have a cutting edge textile used in cycling to promote the comfort of the rider.

Loving Lycra.

At its advent, Lycra symbolised that you were a competitive rider at the pinnacle of your sport -it’s form hugging capabilities leaving no room to hide the sagging beer gut of an amateur, or disguise the gender of the wearer in a sport that at the time was dominated by males.

Wearing lycra meant you were a serious rider. Festooned with the logos of the top cycling brands, lycra began to move out of competitive sport and into fashion.  Like tweed, it became popularised because of it’s association as a textile worn by the elite. And like the tweed wearing Edwardians, this elite was characterised by a group of white males that had the time and the money to indulge seriously in a sport clad in the best textile technology of the time.

As lycra became more commonly available, it started to lose popularity. Perhaps in part because in our modern society, wearing lycra is as naked as you are allowed to be in public, and when worn by a group of middle-aged men, slogging it up a hill, is can be a scary sight to behold.  It could also be due to the common misconception that groups of lycra clad riders will be unaware of, or deliberately flout road rules, thus hindering the traffic rights of the predominant car.

The main reason I believe that lycra is becoming less popular in the community bike ride is because of its association with elitism in cycling. That is to say; it’s not unpopular because it is being worn by elite riders, but that it is being worn by riders that want to be considered elite.

Ride on.

In cycling, there is a distasteful underbelly fuelled by a competitive seriousness that promotes an attitude of exclusivity, where only the fastest riders with the best equipment are encouraged.

Unfortunately, participants are usually upper to middle-class men, and despite the best intentions of the sport, this stereotype seems set to continue with events like the Tour de France, Giro Italy and Tour Down Under, where there is limited focus on the access, inclusion and promotion of women and cyclists from multicultural (non-Western/European) backgrounds.

The costumed ride is the antithesis to this trend, proving you don’t need fancy gear and a jersey full of logos to get on a bike and have fun.

By having a dress-up theme for a ride, organisers can create a sense of fun and silliness, while also providing an atmosphere of cohesion.  Having the option to wear a themed costume creates a more open inclusive dynamic in a group, suggesting that any and all are welcome.

The need for tweed?

So why choose tweed? I can understand that it’s meant to celebrate and idealise the invention of the bicycle and that on the surface it looks pretty darn classy when worn en-mass, but the deeper connotations of tweed and the inherent sexism and exclusivity that come with it, could arguably be also perpetuating some of the worse traits that have dominated cycling culture for the last century.

If you look at the advertising for many of the tweed-themed rides, the repeated depiction is a white guy on a bicycle, while many of the flyers and media for other themed rides are (one would hope) inadvertently exclusive.


111 222 33 444 4 4444444 riotact


Most of the promotional material and media for tweed rides is independently generated and created in a diverse range of locations globally, demonstrating the insidious nature of exclusivity that is still so predominant in cycling culture. It gives evidence to the inherent sexism that is part of the hipster renaissance around cycling; that promotes a certain stereotype of the ideal rider. It is this stereotype alone that defeats the purpose of the community ride.

Why are groups of community riders trying to separate themselves from a culture of elitist white males on bikes, by celebrating a historical group of elite white males on bikes?

Comfort is key.

Most important when dressing for cycling, is ease of movement and protection from the elements. While wearing a great costume would warrant a certain amount of ill ease, the idea of wearing woollen cycling clothing that when wet, would turn into a personal sauna, (also known as an itchy moist skin sack) is my idea of hell on wheels. So why go back to tweed? Who would actually feel the need for tweed?

I suppose there is a certain amount of irony involved in hosting a bike ride as an inclusive event that celebrates an era of cycling epitomised by a time in human history when a bunch of English dudes owned everything and lived off the backs of the less fortunate.  It could even be that this irony makes the ‘moustache competitions and gender specific costume awards’ a subversive form of protest, but that message is lost on me.

As we experience a culture increasingly being ruled by hipster trends and shifting memes, the irony of the ironic is so muddled, that all anyone can do is ride – and wait for good weather and the next naked bike ride.


More mountain bike rage – caught on video

This article, published only two weeks ago, is an adjunct to Lloyd’s previous 2015 paper – and previous blog post – detailing the 2011 mountain bike rage incident on the Flying Nun track (NZ) that was caught on GoPro, uploaded to the internet and then went viral. It is by the same author, on the same topic, but analysed from a slightly different paradigm. It uses some of the main elements of the previous paper as far as the actual event, but as this paper was published in the journal Visual Studies, the analysis takes a different approach as it specifically looks to ‘examine the spatial, temporal and interactional order of a rare case of cycle rage’ (Lloyd 2016 p 206).


Bike rage – caught on video

Source: Lloyd, M. (2016). ‘it’s on video, every second of it’: A micro-sociological analysis of cycle rage. Visual Studies, 31(3), 206. doi:10.1080/1472586X.2016.1209986

After the abstract (see below), the paper starts with an introduction to the event to establish the context and frame the video factors analysis. There is some overlap in content with the first article, which is understandable given that the contextual facts need to be provided, especially considering the audience and distribution for this publication will not be as familiar with the event as the previous paper.



Source: Lloyd (2016)
Source: Lloyd (2016)


Some useful verbage

What this paper does do well, is develop the same event, but in a different direction and with different critical lenses, such as:

  •  Macbeth’s (2012) ‘circumstantial details’
  • Spinney’s (2006, 2011) ‘kinaesthetic enthnography’ of road riders
  • McIIvenny’s (2014, 2015) ‘velomobility’ as separate to ‘mobilities turn’ and ‘disputed mobile formations’ (who also builds on Goffman’s ‘mobile participation units’ notion)
  • Katz’s (1999) ‘tight phenomenological explanation of the grounds for road rage’ and Seductions of Crime (1988)
  • Chelfen’s (2014) ‘a camera-populated world’

In this article, the methodology applied to this micro-sociological event is still ethnomethodological and the fact that both riders did not know each other is still highlighted as a key distinction. In the literature review, it is good to see a lament about the lack of mountain biking specific research – as there is currently (previous to Lloyd’s two papers) only one other author specifically publishing in this field (McIlvenny).

Given the industry ‘visual’ focus of this particular publication, the data used is divided into three key aspects: Third part video, camera position, Google Maps, Mountain biking experience and Screensnaps and transcription. For the data analysis, the below table is included and key aspects and themes are extrapolated on in more detail to draw out more nuanced understandings of the event as it ‘unfolds’ through the video analysis.

Source: Lloyd (2016)
Source: Lloyd (2016)

The final discussion section draws correlations to road rage incidents and reflection as transferable framework to ‘cycle rage’ situations such as this. In the conclusion, an aspect which was of great interest and stood out for me when I read the comments below the video, was fact that Dalton (older rider) was a former mountain bike champion. This to me, triggered implications of hyper masculinities and competitive ego at play (more psychological aspects as opposed to sociological) – an element that was not fully explored in the first paper. One of the closing statements calls for possible more work on this aspect – a suggestion of which struck me on my first reading as well.

Especially given my own particular interest in gender and cycling – I am thrilled to see these (and a very small handful) brave and adventurous researchers broadening the scope of leisure/sport exmainations into some new and unchartered territories such as these.

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.


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!!

Politicians and Prime Ministers riding bikes

Having been back in Australia for a few days now, I was reminiscing about my recent NZ trip. I found myself revisiting the Rotorua Strategic Cycling Plan 2015-2018. Particularly, I have been reflecting on why it is that Australia has not yet implemented any similar clearly worthwhile initiatives. The backing of the local, regional and national governments has been instrumental in the success of NZ’s burgeoning cycling popularity.

For example, here are just some examples of how the NZ government is providing political ordinances and a proactive context for prioritising and promoting cycling in Rotorua and New Zealand:

National: Safer Journeys 2020Transport Demand Management StrategySafer Journeys for People who Cycle 2014NZ Transport Agency’s Cycling Safety Action Plan

Regional: Regional Land Management (RLM) 2011-2041

Local: Rotorua Integrated Network Strategy 2012-2014Rotorua Sport & recreation StrategyRotorua 2030 – Tatou Tatou – WE TOGETHERGrow Rotorua – Rotorua Biking Strategy 2014-2024

After my summer experience and seeing such forward thinking policy-making – it is obvious that Rotorua (and New Zealand in general) is light years ahead of Australia in relation to welcoming and harnessing the positive social and economic impacts that a well-managed and diverse cycling destination with purpose-built infrastructure has to offer. Melbourne has a number of colourful and energetic cycling communities, yet NSW is about to implement some of the toughest cycling fines Australia has seen, which has caused a national uproar. As the Rotorua Deputy Major identifies “These accomplishments don’t happen by chance. It takes amazing collaboration and community contribution to pull off such feats, and we certainly appreciate these continued efforts to boost Rotorua’s appeal as the world’s premier all- year-round mountain biking resort” (Rotorua Lakes Council, n.d.).

Some of the NZ Policies to promote cycling, like the Regional Land Management, are projecting for 2041!! Talk about managing sustainable cycling for future urban development! Where is Australia’s enduring forethought towards providing a safer, more active, more fit and sustainable society? How is it that in Australia, we don’t see our politicians and Prime Ministers riding bikes around our cities?

How is it possible that there are still such major inconsistencies and barriers in Australia for better cycling, when cities like Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Utrecht and Portland are celebrating and (socially and economically) benefiting from honouring and championing cycling as being a normal part of being a healthy, happy and productive citizen?

Simon Bridges, John Key and Todd McClay, on a ride around Government Gardens in Rotorua
Source: Waikato Times – Simon Bridges, John Key (NZ Prime Minister) and Todd McClay, on a ride around Government Gardens in Rotorua, 2015.


Rotorua Urban Cycling Strategic Plan 2015-2018

After visiting Rotorua this summer, I was impressed by the amount of support for cycling that the local Council and Businesses provided. As a visiting cyclist, it was easy to get around town, given the safe and considerable bike lanes that weave throughout town and around the local tourist attractions, parks, lakes and geysers. I found like-minded people at cafes like Zippy’s where there is ample bike parking out the front (and good coffee!). Rotorua Airport has a shipping container at the arrivals door with lockers and an assembly stand and tools so you can build you bike straight off the plane. We stayed at The Alpin, which provided exceptionally bike-friendly services, including a designated MTB bike wash station in the courtyard and private thermal pools for each room. (Michelle was really happy to have bikers stay there, and was so welcoming and helpful that I am not surprised it is a favourite place to stay for MTBs). Aside from all this, the amazing forest at Redwoods was a pure delight to ride around.

I was also deeply impressed by the cooperation and multi-use agreements that obviously work so well between so many different stakeholders within the Whakarewarewa Forest, such as mountain bikers; walker;, horse-riders; family day-trippers and loggers – it was remarkable (and relieving) to see it work so harmoniously and effectively.


While here I checked to see what are the future cycling plans for the region and uncovered the Rotorua Urban Cycling Strategic Plan 2015-2018.This Plan focuses on developing local cycling infrastructure and participation. Much has already been achieved on this front as Rotorua is already a hot spot for cycling with award winning MTB trails, an annual Bike Festival, an expanding Green Corridor inner-city link network as well as hosting numerous international competitions such as the UCI World Champs 2006 and Crankworx 2015.

So far, Rotorua has already completed the Te Ara Ahi (Thermal by Bike) Trail, which is 47-51 km link that begins in the CBD and passes through the Government Gardens and then meanders past the most stellar Rotorua thermal attractions such as Whakarewarewa, Waimangu Volcanic Valley, Wai-O-tapu Thermal Wonderland and Waikite Valley Thermal Springs, showcasing the rich local environment, animals, history and culture.

The four main overall aims of the Rotorua Urban Cycling Strategic Plan are to:
  • Enhance and reinforce the district’s brand and reputation as a key cycling destination for domestic and foreign tourism
  • Contribute to improved health outcomes for the community by promoting active modes of transport and by reducing adverse impacts on our living environment
  • Help address future demand on limited road capacity by reducing the number of trips based on motor vehicles and increasing trips through active transport modes
  • Contribute to achieving sustainable and affordable infrastructure thus reducing the funding burden on the community

Rotorua plans to link up all the urban and inner-city bicycle networks to create an integrated Urban Cycleway Network, which connects major tourist attractions, cycling facilities, schools and the CBD together to make access by bike a safer and easier option for locals and visitors.

The 2015-2018 Strategic Plans are the next step towards achieving Rotorua’s 2030 goals and is informed by consultation with cycling stakeholders. The New Zealand government has recognised the importance of cycling and has prioritised it by putting into practice an Urban Cycling Fund (UCF) 2015-2018 to stimulate regional cycling developments. Rotorua applied to UFC and was awarded NZ$5.5 million to develop over 27kms of shared pathways to help link up the city’s Cy-Way network. There is talk about future plans to link up a series of the bicycle tracks throughout NZ so that the whole country can be connected and ridden as a complete trip. Now that’s exciting!!

As the Strategic plan outlines, ‘The completion of Rotorua’s primary cycling network will provide easier and safer access for people cycling to school, with almost 14,000 students within 500 meters of the primary cycling network. The completed network is expected to increase cycling from the suburbs within 20 minutes of the CBD, aiming to achieve an increase in mode share for cycling to work and to school. The network will also have benefits for tourism and economic development by furthering Rotorua’s reputation as a cycling destination and recreation- friendly city’ (Rotorua Lakes Council, n.d).

Eventually, this Cy-Ways link-up would connect the city by shared pathways in a way that will transform access, time and safety to the CBD for locals and tourists as well as making cycling the most desirable mode of transport around Rotorua. Such an approach will significantly reduce reliance on petroleum-based transport, increase the quality of the local environment as well as contribute to raising levels of health and fitness.

Rotorua Urban Cycling Strategic Plan 2015-2018
Source: Rotorua Urban Cycling Strategic Plan 2015-2018

What an amazing feat of policy-making! It is exciting to see proactive and innovative strategies being implemented on a wide scale that have such prominent, meaningful and sustainable impacts to create change for so many people in so many ways. Congratulations Rotorua for leading the way! I can only hope that we see more city planning along the same lines elsewhere in the world.

Ref: Rotorua Lakes Council (n.d) Rotorua Urban Cycling Strategic Plan 2015-2018.

Dads ‘n’ Lads

Digging through Rotorua’s mountain bike archives, I found this little gem. I thought it was a particularly interesting initiative as it was focused on getting more men riding, whereas it is usually women who are the focus of such programs. I was especially excited about the follow-up outcomes that emerged out of this program.


Indeed, this program was developed following the highly successful Women’s Activator Series and its ongoing positive outcomes (a collaboration between Sport Bay of Plenty (BOP) and Rotorua District Council and Primary Health Services) in conjunction with the results of a 2006 survey, that found “that men enjoyed male-only environments and opportunities to get active with family members. Men preferred an element of competition and challenge to the physical activity as having a structured and encouraging environment was as important a motivator as the fitness benefits” (Fowler & Mansell, 2008).

The Program

The Program was 1-1.5 hour every Thursday evening for 10 weeks. It had support from local individuals and groups who provided shuttle transportation, expert guides, a personal trainer for the weekly pre-ride stretch sessions and the like. Basic bike skills were learned and practiced at the local BMX track for the first fortnight to build confidence and skills while individual fitness levels were determined. The rest of the Program was conducted in the forest, where a new skill was introduced each week – designed to scaffold skills and confidence.

Bicycles Create Change - First timers in the Whakarewarewa Forest
First timers in the Whakarnewarewa Forest. Source: Fowler & Mansell, 2008.

The Program identified three main aims (Fowler & Mansell, 2008): first: to increase the frequency and commitment participants have to physical activity over and beyond the 10-week series period; second: to increase the skills and 
confidence of beginner mountain bike riders; finally: to increase the usage of the 
Whakarewarewa forest by participants for mountain biking and other forms of recreation with family and friends.


An ad was run on December 18th 2007 in the local Daily Post newspaper (see image below) reading: “Calling all men. No matter your age, shape, size or speed (in fact, the slower the better) – this training series is for YOU & it’s FREE! For the past 3 years, we have had the Women’s Activator Series, but now it is time for something for the blokes…. Dad ‘n’ Lads is a 10 week fun run and mountain bike training series aimed at men who are currently not very active, but would like to improve their fitness, have some laughs at the same time and discover some great walking/running/cycling to share with family and friends once the series is over. For 10 weeks you will enjoy a weekly training session, which will have options for the beginners and progress to more challenging routes as your fitness increases. How much you challenge yourself is up to you!” 42 men responded to the ad (including 3 father and son partnerships) – of which 20 completed the program.

Bicycles Create Change - Dads 'n' Lads
Source: Daily Post, December 18th 2007

The 3 main aims of the program were met. Overall there were 5 main noteworthy outcomes of this program.

  1. Activity levels increased remarkably by week 10 with 60% increasing their activity to 2-3 days per week while the other 40% had increased their activity level to a minimum of 30 mins per day.
  2. Increased assertiveness using the Whakarewarewa Forest for recreation. Confidence and familiarity with the forest meant that participants felt confident to take family and friends into the forest for recreational activities.
  3. Setting and achieving goals such as fitness, strength or weight-loss, increased general activity levels (on the bike and in the forest) father/son bonding and forming new friendships were some of the top goals achieved.
  4. Educating others was a key feature of the program that every participant identified with, having involved or taken out for a ride, at least, one family member (wife, child or grandchild). The top 3 skills that were instrumental in taking out others that were learnt from the program, was: setting up the bike correctly, basic riding techniques and being able to change a flat tyre.
  5. Valued outcomes for the participants included: structured, yet informal/social setting, having bikes available to rent for the activity and the mutual support of the other men.
Follow-up positive changes

This Program had clear aims and solid support throughout, which meant that there was a consistent and reliable basis for the participants to develop their confidence, skills and networks. I think it is exciting that many participants put these skills into action and took others out into the forest, for family outings for example, increasing fitness; increasing appreciation and use of the amazing forest on their doorstep; and enhancing quality time with others – which shows the potential that such community programs have for ongoing indirect positive impacts benefiting a greater number of people in the community.

Also, it is great to hear that the participants formed their own group ride after the program finished – to maintain the camaraderie, skills and habits they had learnt. Their monthly group ride also includes their family members, which is a wonderful way of extending the enjoyment, fitness, ability and community that this program began.

Bicycles Create Change - Dads 'n' Lads group
Dads ‘n’ Lads Participants Source: Fowler & Mansell, 2008.


Fowler, A., & Mansell, L. (2008). Dads ‘N’ lads – getting men on the move with rotorua’s beginner mountain bike series.Australasian Parks and Leisure, 11(2), 34-37.