Bicycles of perception: Motivations and meanings that promote long-term engagement with mountain biking in Queenstown, Aotearoa New Zealand

This research explores the motivations and meanings of mountain bikers living in the Queenstown Lake District, Aotearoa New Zealand. Through a phenomenological paradigm, this research follows a qualitative methodology. Data for this research was gained through an ethnographic process, involving interviews, observations, and a self-practice of mountain biking. Semi-structured interviews were used to gain insight into mountain bikers' personal experiences. Observations were conducted to examine numerous aspects of mountain bikers' lifestyles. Observations were conducted at mountain bike tracks, mountain biking events, and social events; e.g. barbecues and bars. Self-practice by myself, the researcher, was used as an attempt to gain further insight into the subjective experiences of embodied action. The data was analysed via grounded theory to allow themes to emerge. Numerous themes came to light during data analysis. They reveal some of the ways mountain biking affects participants' lives. Some of the prominent themes to emerge were physical and mental health, connection to nature, stress relief, social connection and identity. The state of flow and deep embodied action mountain bikers experience, appears to promote long-term engagement. The above themes are strongly associated with overall wellbeing. They indicate that mountain biking offers a holistic approach to maintaining a well-balanced life. This research will give some insight into why mountain bikers continue to participate in a risky and physically demanding sport over long periods of time.
Type of thesis
The University of Waikato
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