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Technology, Equipment and the Mountain Biker’s Taskscape

Part of the Global Culture and Sport Series book series (GCS)

Abstract

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.

Keywords

  • Bike Design
  • Skilled Action
  • Equipment Design
  • Mountain Bike
  • Phenomenological Experience

These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Fig. 12.1
Fig. 12.2

Notes

  1. 1.

    I would like to offer thanks to several people for their feedback during the development of this chapter. In particular, colleagues John Sutton and Wayne Christensen from the Department of Cognitive Science at Macquarie University; staff and postgraduate scholars at the Department of Performance Studies, University of Sydney; John Hardwick for further insights into wheel size and frame design; and the audience at the Cultural Studies of Association of Australasia Conference, held at the University of Wollongong in 2015, where part of this chapter was presented as a paper. Thanks to the reviewer of this chapter for further feedback and suggestions, and to Holly Thorpe and Rebecca Olive for their work in drawing this collection of scholarship together. Thanks to Rosemary Barnes for the photo at the beginning of this chapter, and for a great few days spent riding and racing in Cairns.

  2. 2.

    Grant (2014) provides a phenomenological description of risk in performative acts but in relation to time.

  3. 3.

    Considering the impact equipment has on the way we ‘do’ or perceive our bodies is interesting to consider in relation to Butler’s work, especially given the capacity for different tools to facilitate, shape and limit our performance of self, the impact this has on our embodied capacities and dispositions, and the role of marketing agendas and equipment manufacturers in suggesting some equipment suits the doing of gendered bodies better than others. As noted earlier, I have chosen other theoretical frameworks here for the alternate, and complementary, analytical perspectives they provide.

  4. 4.

    The wheelbase is the distance between the contact points of the two wheels with the ground.

  5. 5.

    While Ingold uses the term ‘taskscape’ to ‘denote a pattern of dwelling activities’ after ‘considering how taskscape relates to landscape the distinction between them is ultimately dissolved, and the landscape itself is shown to be fundamentally temporal’ (Ingold, 2011, p. 154). I use the term taskscape here to foreground attention to the conceptions of ‘doing’ in relation to the temporal qualities of particular landscapes, a use of the term Ingold continues to employ as well.

  6. 6.

    Although, in cases such as climbing, running or some martial arts or yoga traditions for example, the use of equipment alters our physiological development. Participants would still carry traces of this mediation even when they operate without equipment.

  7. 7.

    While this shift would have happened independently of the wheel size debate, the limitations of big wheels for shorter riders has had a notable influence on innovation regarding bike fit for riders of any gender.

  8. 8.

    For more detailed articles investigating the research and reasoning behind products aimed at women, and why some women prefer unisex designs, see Bicknell (2015b) and Spence and Flickinger (2015).

  9. 9.

    See Bicknell (2014a) for an example of an equipment-testing experience where it was necessary to change a line into a corner due to brakes that were not very powerful.

  10. 10.

    See Christensen et al. (2015) for a more thorough analysis on this in relation to the senses of agency and control.

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Bicknell, K. (2016). Technology, Equipment and the Mountain Biker’s Taskscape. In: Thorpe, H., Olive, R. (eds) Women in Action Sport Cultures. Global Culture and Sport Series. Palgrave Macmillan, London. https://doi.org/10.1057/978-1-137-45797-4_12

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1057/978-1-137-45797-4_12

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