Published on October 18, 2007
THE AUTHENTIC SPACES OF BICYCLE TOURISM Michael W. Pesses California State University, Northridge
THE GOALS Examine the phenomenon of bicycle tourism A fascinating form of tourism with little existing research Inject geography into the “authenticity” debate Geog. thought valuable; sociologists & anthropologists have monopolized the debate
TOUR HISTORY Europe since Industrial Revolution Escape smoggy city; no car America since 1950s? TOURING organizations arise in 1950s Didn’t pick up until Bikecentennial, 1976 American Cycling Association Make the American landscape accessible
TRANSAMERICA TRAIL Astoria, OR Yorktown, VA
THE TOURIST Previous academic deﬁnitions lacking for qualitative research A bicycle tourist is one who sets out upon a recreational trip consisting of multiple days with a bicycle, and with the intent of using that bicycle for the majority of that trip. e tourist can travel alone or be part of an organized group, as long as the use of a bicycle “drives” that trip. e bicycle trip must cover new ground, i.e. using a “base camp” to which the tourist returns each night would not be suﬃcient to be considered touring.
THE TOURIST Bicycle drifter Does not consciously use any documented bicycle routes. Rides with the purpose of seeing landscapes and experi- encing local cultures. Sleeps Bicycle explorer where able to, though prefers May use documented bicycle lodging with local residents. routes, but will deviate to see No fixed itinerary of any kind. other landscapes and spaces. May use motels or established campgrounds, but will also camp on available empty land. Non-institutionalized Institutionalized Individual mass bicycle tourist Relies upon documented bicycle routes and lodges primarily in motels or estab- lished campgrounds. Maintains an iternary of some sort. Organized group mass *Variant on bicycle tourist Cohen’s 1972 Signs up for a supported group tour and does no planning categories. other than assembling personal items.
AUTHENTICITY Physical All but abandoned Constructive “ ings appear authentic not because they are in- herently authentic but because they are constructed as such in terms of points of view, beliefs, perspec- tives, or powers (Wang 1999, p. 351).” Existential rough suﬀering comes authenticity
TO SUFFER Logotherapy (Frankl 1984) “…the true meaning of life is to be discovered in the world rather than within man or his own psyche, as though it were a closed system (p. 115, emphasis added).” Auschwitz v. a bike ride? “To suﬀer unnecessarily is masochistic rather than heroic (p. 117).” Bourgeoisie must seek suﬀering for any hope of authenticity
LANDSCAPE AUTHENTICITY Combine existential/constructive with object e landscape is in constant tension with the exis- tential to produce an authentic experience. Evoke the totality of the experience Lefebvrian space (1991 ) Harvey’s relational space (2006, most recently) One cannot suﬀer through bicycle touring without the road or trail as a PLACE and SPACE
THE WORK A sampling of journals from: http://www.CrazyGuyOnABike.com Rich journal text, informative photography Symbolic interactionist approach Armchair ethnography
THE JOURNALS Solo Without Pie: Wandering the Lewis and Clark Trail by Stuart Black Rode a portion of the ACA’s Lewis and Clark Trail in 2003 Deviated from trail at times Rode in spirit of discovery Bicycle explorer
AUTHENTIC TOUR Authenticity is asserted from the beginning Now, I don't have anything against organized rides but, just between you and me, that ain't touring! Sure you ride a lot and it is tough but in the end you have someone to take care of you. You are surrounded by friends and fellow cyclists. You can talk bikes and bike riding at the end of the day. But at the end of that day you are still part of the herd. Real bicycle touring is, ultimately, a very lonely and enlightening experience especially when you ride alone (2005, p. 2).
SPATIO-TEMPORAL Relational space of monotony For sixty miles all I got to see was fields of corn and soybeans. No cows, no wild animals larger than a squirrel, not even that many houses or dogs, just corn and soybeans (p. 12). Change in this space produces authenticity One of the things that makes bicycling great is a tail- wind. I've had a few memorable tailwinds and the one out of Onawa makes the top of the list. Corn and soy beans look every [sic] so much better when they are sailing by at 25 to 30 mph. I was rocketing down the road! I covered 50 miles in 3 hours (p. 14)!
RESISTANCE Against capitalistic eﬃciency of travel and transport And what was even better was that people in their cars couldn't see them. The only way to see them all was from the seat of a bike. That's how perfect a day can be (p. 14)! Material fetish of the bicycle Obviously not against materialism, but per- haps simply modern mobilities?
CONCLUSIONS Long distance bicycle tourism is an untapped resource for cultural geographers. We cannot forget/ignore the spatial components even the mental aspects of tourism.
THANK YOU Copy of paper at: http://www.gorillamapping.com/academia.html Or contact: Mike Pesses firstname.lastname@example.org
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