The Psychology of Mountain Biking

Discussion in 'Mountain Bikes' started by Mike Vandeman, Nov 8, 2003.

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  1. January 24, 2000 Tony Acosta Director, Office of Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Affairs 1520
    Lakeside Drive Oakland, CA 94612

    Re: The Psychology of Mountain Biking

    Dear Sir:

    For a psychologist, mountain biking is a fascinating
    phenomenon. The first thing one notices about them is that they lie
    ___
    continually! For someone from my generation, raised to tell the
    ___________
    truth at all times, this is puzzling. Surely, they must know that everyone, at least all those who
    aren't mountain bikers, can easily see through them! For example, Councilwoman Nancy Nadel caught
    Eric Muhler, President of the Bicycle Trails Council of the East Bay, publicly claiming that
    mountain biking in Joaquin Miller Park has caused hardly any erosion! One look at Alec Karp's
    photographs of the park is all it would take to know that he was lying. Similarly, an official of
    ROMP ("Responsible Organized Mountain Pedalers") was caught red-handed building an illegal trail.

    Their favorite lie, of course, is that land managers who ban off-road biking are banning
    mountain bikers. Actually, it is only
    _______________
    their bikes that are banned! It would be impossible to ban mountain
    _____
    bikers even if we wanted to, since they don't look different from anyone else.

    And they aren't doing their already rotten image much good. Since none of them ever admit lying, we
    can only guess at their motivation. The best that I have been able to come up with is that they
    don't believe that they can justify their selfish, destructive sport except by lying. Well, ... yes,
    of course! Since mountain
    _________
    biking destroys wildlife habitat, drives away wildlife and other trail users, and benefits only
    the mountain bikers, it is hard to see how anyone can justify allowing mountain biking in any
    natural area.

    Similarly, it is hard to explain why land managers lie so frequently, when asked why they allow
    mountain biking. For example, a ranger at China Camp State Park told me that mountain biking is
    causing "no erosion". An equestrian familiar with the park then told me that the bikers were
    "turning the trails into powder"! I guess that the land managers are afraid to admit that they have
    allowed political pressure -- or, in some cases, free trail maintenance provided by the mountain
    bikers -- to cloud their better judgment.

    Recently I suddenly realized why this pattern seemed so
    familiar: they act exactly like the drug addicts that I knew when I
    _________________________________________________________
    worked with Synanon Foundation! They demonstrate the same
    _______________________________
    willingness to take enormous risks, just to continue their "habit". They risk their image, their
    job, their relationships, their freedom, even their life, just to continue seeking the ultimate
    "high". Many subscribe to mountain biking mailing lists at work, risking losing their job. Thousands
    risk arrest and fines for riding illegally or even building illegal trails on public and private
    land. The "Sedona Five" took advantage of a temporary closure of Grand Canyon National Park to ride
    down the North Kaibab Trail, which is closed to bikes (and got arrested). Taking serious risks to
    continue a habit of doubtful value is the best indicator of a true addiction. In mountain biking
    newsgroups they exchange stories about their latest "high" (riding "sweet singletrack"), with extra
    points given for experiences that were dangerous, illegal, or both.
    ____

    When caught riding on trails closed to bikes, in my experience, they lie ("I didn't know it
    is closed" -- but they don't offer to leave!), threaten ("I'm going to bust your head"), and
    even physically attack whoever tells them to leave the closed area (one biker rode back up
    the trail, turned around, and then rode into the guy who had told him the trail is closed,
    as fast as he could, knocking him bloody). That is a lot of risk to take, just in order to
    ride one trail illegally! And a good sign that they are addicted. Indeed, many of them, in
    their discussions on the Internet, describe mountain biking as an "addiction".

    Another psychological factor, of course, is the image boost that the sport and its
    accoutrements give to rebellious young people, just as racing bikes did for an earlier
    generation (hardly any of whom actually raced!). The knobby tires and "hardened" frames
    clearly say "I'm tough. Don't cross me!" The names attached to the bikes and tires
    ("Velociraptor", "Omega-Bite") reinforce that image, as do the photos in mountain bike
    magazines of bikers flying through the air (getting "big air"). These bikes are clearly
    intended to indicate that they will help you "conquer nature" (while, ironically, actually
    insuring that you will have even less contact with that nature, due to their speed, lack of
    contact with the ground, and suspension systems!).

    Yet another factor explaining their insistence on biking at all costs, even at the risk of
    getting arrested, is embodied in the
    psychological term "Cognitive Dissonance": after spending often more than $2500 for their bike, it
    would be very embarrassing and upsetting if they had nowhere to ride it!

    Perhaps this explains why, after years of talking about how they are going to put an end to
    the erosion damage, illegal riding, and illegal trail building in Joaquin Miller Park, the
    mountain bikers are continuing all of those activities unabated.

    Sincerely,

    Michael J. Vandeman, Ph.D.

    pps Mountain biking also provides very bad role modeling for our children. Whether or not a bike is
    ever ridden off-road, any child looking at one will get the impression that it is used to tear
    up wildlife habitat, and that this is okay.

    ===
    I am working on creating wildlife habitat that is off-limits to humans ("pure habitat"). Want to
    help? (I spent the previous 8 years fighting auto dependence and road construction.)

    http://home.pacbell.net/mjvande
     
    Tags:


  2. Mike,

    What Uni did you get your Ph.D. from? I want to make sure I never send my children there.

    "Mike Vandeman" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:[email protected]...
    > January 24, 2000 Tony Acosta Director, Office of Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Affairs 1520
    > Lakeside Drive Oakland, CA 94612
    >
    > Re: The Psychology of Mountain Biking
    >
    > Dear Sir:
    >
    > For a psychologist, mountain biking is a fascinating phenomenon. The first thing one notices about
    > them is that they lie
    > ___
    > continually! For someone from my generation, raised to tell the
    > ___________
    > truth at all times, this is puzzling. Surely, they must know that everyone, at least all those who
    > aren't mountain bikers, can easily see through them! For example, Councilwoman Nancy Nadel caught
    > Eric Muhler, President of the Bicycle Trails Council of the East Bay, publicly claiming that
    > mountain biking in Joaquin Miller Park has caused hardly any erosion! One look at Alec Karp's
    > photographs of the park is all it would take to know that he was lying. Similarly, an official of
    > ROMP ("Responsible Organized Mountain Pedalers") was caught red-handed building an illegal trail.
    >
    > Their favorite lie, of course, is that land managers who ban off-road biking are banning mountain
    > bikers. Actually, it is only
    > _______________
    > their bikes that are banned! It would be impossible to ban mountain
    > _____
    > bikers even if we wanted to, since they don't look different from anyone else.
    >
    > And they aren't doing their already rotten image much good. Since none of them ever admit lying,
    > we can only guess at their motivation. The best that I have been able to come up with is that they
    > don't believe that they can justify their selfish, destructive sport except by lying. Well, ...
    > yes, of course! Since mountain
    > _________
    > biking destroys wildlife habitat, drives away wildlife and other trail users, and benefits only
    > the mountain bikers, it is hard to see how anyone can justify allowing mountain biking in any
    > natural area.
    >
    > Similarly, it is hard to explain why land managers lie so frequently, when asked why they allow
    > mountain biking. For example, a ranger at China Camp State Park told me that mountain biking is
    > causing "no erosion". An equestrian familiar with the park then told me that the bikers were
    > "turning the trails into powder"! I guess that the land managers are afraid to admit that they
    > have allowed political pressure -- or, in some cases, free trail maintenance provided by the
    > mountain bikers -- to cloud their better judgment.
    >
    > Recently I suddenly realized why this pattern seemed so familiar: they act exactly like the drug
    > addicts that I knew when I
    > _________________________________________________________
    > worked with Synanon Foundation! They demonstrate the same
    > _______________________________
    > willingness to take enormous risks, just to continue their "habit". They risk their image, their
    > job, their relationships, their freedom, even their life, just to continue seeking the ultimate
    > "high". Many subscribe to mountain biking mailing lists at work, risking losing their job.
    > Thousands risk arrest and fines for riding illegally or even building illegal trails on public and
    > private land. The "Sedona Five" took advantage of a temporary closure of Grand Canyon National
    > Park to ride down the North Kaibab Trail, which is closed to bikes (and got arrested). Taking
    > serious risks to continue a habit of doubtful value is the best indicator of a true addiction. In
    > mountain biking newsgroups they exchange stories about their latest "high" (riding "sweet
    > singletrack"), with extra points given for experiences that were dangerous, illegal, or both.
    > ____
    >
    > When caught riding on trails closed to bikes, in my experience, they lie ("I didn't know it is
    > closed" -- but they don't offer to leave!), threaten ("I'm going to bust your head"), and even
    > physically attack whoever tells them to leave the closed area (one biker rode back up the trail,
    > turned around, and then rode into the guy who had told him the trail is closed, as fast as he
    > could, knocking him bloody). That is a lot of risk to take, just in order to ride one trail
    > illegally! And a good sign that they are addicted. Indeed, many of them, in their discussions on
    > the Internet, describe mountain biking as an "addiction".
    >
    > Another psychological factor, of course, is the image boost that the sport and its accoutrements
    > give to rebellious young people, just as racing bikes did for an earlier generation (hardly any of
    > whom actually raced!). The knobby tires and "hardened" frames clearly say "I'm tough. Don't cross
    > me!" The names attached to the bikes and tires ("Velociraptor", "Omega-Bite") reinforce that
    > image, as do the photos in mountain bike magazines of bikers flying through the air (getting "big
    > air"). These bikes are clearly intended to indicate that they will help you "conquer nature"
    > (while, ironically, actually insuring that you will have even less contact with that nature, due
    > to their speed, lack of contact with the ground, and suspension systems!).
    >
    > Yet another factor explaining their insistence on biking at all costs, even at the risk of getting
    > arrested, is embodied in the
    > psychological term "Cognitive Dissonance": after spending often more than $2500 for their bike,
    > it would be very embarrassing and upsetting if they had nowhere to ride it!
    >
    > Perhaps this explains why, after years of talking about how they are going to put an end to the
    > erosion damage, illegal riding, and illegal trail building in Joaquin Miller Park, the mountain
    > bikers are continuing all of those activities unabated.
    >
    > Sincerely,
    >
    > Michael J. Vandeman, Ph.D.
    >
    > P.S. Mountain biking also provides very bad role modeling for our children. Whether or not a bike
    > is ever ridden off-road, any child looking at one will get the impression that it is used to
    > tear up wildlife habitat, and that this is okay.
    >
    > ===
    > I am working on creating wildlife habitat that is off-limits to humans ("pure habitat"). Want to
    > help? (I spent the previous 8 years fighting auto dependence and road construction.)
    >
    > http://home.pacbell.net/mjvande
     
  3. DaveWV

    DaveWV New Member

    Joined:
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    Bla, Bla, Bla, Bla. Appaerently the school Mikey got his degree from just hands out Ph. D's to anyone with thier head up thier ass.

    Every one of his arguments are childish and selfserving. His direct attack on moutain biking while ignoring other land use issues shows that this is a personal vendetta against moutain biking and has very little to do wildlife.
    I think it is very clear that Mikey needs to let go of whatever happened between he and a moutainbiker in the past and put all his misguided efforts towards something else.
     
  4. johnhurwitz

    johnhurwitz New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2003
    Messages:
    3
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    0

    It is best to ignore this Mike V. character. We have had dealings with him before on various mountain bike email lists and forums. He is a pest. And apparantly has alot of time on his hands...
     
  5. DaveWV

    DaveWV New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2003
    Messages:
    48
    Likes Received:
    0
    I usually do, and encourage all of us to. But although what I said has probably been sais before, I just had to say it again for fun. Mikey is pure entertainment, nothing else.
     
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