Cycling adventures: mountain bike

Hi, I’m Daniel Oakman, senior curator
here at the National Museum of Australia and welcome to another of
my cycling adventures. Today I’m going to be taking
a hardtail mountain bike on a ride on one of my favourite trails at Tathra
on the far south coast of New South Wales. Getting out of town to explore the bush
has always been a part of cycling. True, our cycling forebears didn’t have
the lightweight highly-geared bikes with suspension and disc brakes that I’m riding here, but in many ways they were searching for a similar kind of engagement
with the world around them – a kind of immersive experience and a fusion between the bike,
one’s own body and the environment. The modern bike I’m riding is
light, nimble and responsive and really enhances that
connection to the world. That doesn’t mean it isn’t
without some hard pedalling, but I think that is
also part of my story, using the machine to follow
the contours of the land whether it’s up or down but
hopefully a mixture of both. This bike, being a very light hardtail, means that the energy applied through
the pedals goes directly to the wheel so there’s a great sense of control,
efficiency and a connection to the ground. Indeed, sometimes that connection to the earth can
be a little too close in the event of a stack. Weaving through the trees and
over these yellow bridges also makes me think about the way
track design has shaped the way we have embraced
the modern mountain bike. Track design plays such an important part in
shaping and constructing our experience, in part, because the obstacles, gradients and corners
shape the way we move our bikes, our bodies and how hard we
might be working. I think one of the reasons this kind of riding has
just exploded in popularity in the past few decades is not just that bicycle design has
made them faster and more comfortable but it has amplified our
experience of the world. On this short ride it’s been a
real feast for the senses – the sound of the world speeding
past, the sound of the bike, the visual pleasures
of the forest and the play between my body and the landscape make
it an incredibly engaging and immersive experience. Despite all the
technological advances, I reckon our earlier mountain bike riding
ancestors would know exactly what I mean. Thanks for watching. Enjoy your riding, and I’ll see you
on another cycling adventure.