5 Reasons To Listen – The Downtime Podcast on Racism in MTB

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Don’t just jump into the comments section – first, listen to this podcast on racism in mountain biking. Here are some reasons why we think you should.

There has already been a Forum thread about this edition of the Downtime Podcast, but rather than post it and recommend it to you before listening to it, I’ve waited until I’d had time to listen to the whole thing. Having done so, I can recommend finding the time to take it in – there’s nearly two hours of discussion, which took me a bunch of school runs to get through and really concentrate on. In it, Eliot Jackson and Phil Young discuss racism in mountain biking, with interesting perspectives from both the USA and UK.

Here are 5 reasons why I think you should listen to this episode of the Downtime Podcast:

1. Historical context

It explains the historical context of wealth, race, slavery and colonialism in the UK, and how this has created an unequal society. This is definitely not stuff I was taught at school. Understanding it makes it clearer to me why I can be the beneficiary of a racist legacy, without personally being racist – and how that plays into almost every aspect of life.

2. It’s (not) the economy, stupid

It discusses the demographics of the UK, and gives good evidence about why economic means alone doesn’t explain away the whiteness of mountain biking. And it makes you think again about why our demographics are what they are – see point 1 above.

3. What is mountain biking anyway?

If you’ve ever looked at an ad or article and felt like you’re doing it wrong, or that it doesn’t fit with why you ride a bike, or that maybe what you do isn’t ‘mountain biking’, then I think there are some interesting points here about how the sport is portrayed. This podcast made me think more about how we define mountain biking, what it is that we get from it, and how that translates into marketing and media coverage.

4. We can all do something

Dismissing communities of people as ‘not being interested in mountain biking’ fails to understand and appreciate the differences in culture and life experience, and assesses the value or appeal of mountain biking and its marketing within our own cultural context. Whatever our role in mountain biking – riders, media folks, bike designers, brand owners – there are things we can do to help and encourage people into the sport that brings us so much joy and reward.

5. The best is yet to come

It gives some great examples of how mountain biking – the industry and the sport – could benefit from being more diverse and how that could grow the sport in ways we’ve yet to think of. This made me think that, with the right will, energy and action, there’s a lot of new and interesting stuff to come in the world of mountain biking, and I want to be part of that.

If you haven’t already done so, I highly recommend you go ahead and give this podcast a listen. What will you learn? What ideas does it give you?

You can follow Eliot on Instagram @eliotjackson and Phil @philskills.

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Hannah Dobson

Managing Editor

I came to Singletrack having decided there must be more to life than meetings. I like all bikes, but especially unusual ones. More than bikes, I like what bikes do. I think that they link people and places; that cycling creates a connection between us and our environment; bikes create communities; deliver freedom; bring joy; and improve fitness. They're environmentally friendly and create friendly environments. I try to write about all these things in the hope that others might discover the joy of bikes too.

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Comments (11)

    Thanks Hannah. Good to have someone more eloquent than myself. I left the thread quickly after it took an unexpected (to me ) turn.

    Link to the podcast in this article?

    @James sorry, technical difficulties!

    Thanks for posting this Hannah. I listened to the podcast last week and found Phil Young’s experience and explanation really helpful. Well worth a listen.

    Just look at the grand tour pelotons and majority of riders are Caucasian, UK cycling – team GB is predominantly White bar for one talented Bame BMX rider. Our society is a multi cultural melting pot and it’s about time all sports reflect the diversity in the wider community! Participation in a large number of sports at a high level still appears to have a massive divide in that majority of competitors are white, upper middle class and low income and Bame pools of talented sport men, women or youth don’t get the opportunity because of their socioeconomic group or ethnic background and that is just wrong in my opinion! Sport is for all not just for a lucky privileged elite. Rant endeth, shakes head and climbs off soapbox…

    Maxlight that’s not quite true, Wiggins wasn’t an upper middle class same with Cavendish. The Euro pele on it’s still a working class sport for many. Uk not so much perhaps. I think it’s more to do with socioeconomic groupings than just race. We don’t see Riders from the Valleys of Wales where the coal mines once were or a rider from the Shipyards of Greenock.

    I’d be interested to see the diversity of financial grouping as well as race in Skateboarding, Boxing, Football, basketball, judo, Horseriding. It’s just culturally Football is the “working class” sport in the uk so working class kids go for that. You also I need a support structure to get the kid to that event which costs time and money often lower wages mean you work W/E’s so can spend that driving to wales for the DH round 2 that’s £80 to enter.
    Things change now it’s YouTube, Music etc that takes over for many. I just don’t think it’s quite as simple as skin colour, though yes it maybe a factor.

    That stops some kids which is totally out of line and shouldn’t happen ever.

    (Sorry posted too early)

    @wookster. I think you need to listen to the podcast. This talk of it all being due to money is addressed.

    Society should be inclusive as should all sports, cycling is just one that is clearly lacking to engage and encourage diversity and that needs to be addressed. Yes some working class white folk have made it to the top echelons of cycling sports but Bame are virtually unrepresented and that sucks! Cycling should be promoted and encouraged as an accessible sport for all regardless of ethnicity, religion or social class. The more cyclists the better for the sport
    / hobby / mode of transport we love.

    Thanks for posting this. It was an interesting and thought-provoking listen. Well done @thebrick for bringing it to our attention, too.

    Access will be a massive problem. I know some BAME people, including my wife and daughter, who love the outdoors including cycling and mountain biking but then we live in Yorkshire and have relatively easy access. As in the pod cast it will need facilities to be made available closer to the communities such as safe cycle routes, pump tracks and possibly more places like Leeds urban bike park.
    Cycling especially mountain biking needs more media coverage. BBC covered the downhill UCI mtb and even though we won the men’s there was nothing on the news.

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