Off-Road Mountain Biking: A profile of participants, setting and preferences, by Gordan Cessford, 1995
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4. RESULTS - Setting / Experience Preferences

SUMMARY: Riders demonstrated their diverse needs through indicating a variety of activity preferences based upon challenging riding, natural forested settings, single-track, speed and excitement experiences, scenery, and general variety in riding conditions. The emphasis placed on these, and other preferred features varied with rider experience.

- Setting and experience features which were consistently important for most riders included appreciating scenery/views/nature, an undulating route, forest settings (particularly native forests), socialising with others, exploring new areas, ride duration of 2-3 hours, smooth/fast/open track surfaces, some speed/excitement/risk, and some exercise/fitness workout.

- Features which were particularly more important to experienced riders were physical and technical challenge, single-track which is tight/narrow/winding, rough/technical/tight track surfaces, fast/technical/tight downhills, more challenging uphills, and racing. In addition, experiencing some speed/excitment/risk was generally more important for experienced riders than beginners.

- Features which were particularly more important to less experienced riders were gentle/gradual/easy uphills, smooth/easy/open track surfaces, ride duration of 1-2 hours, few obstructions or difficulties on tracks, relaxation/easy riding/cruising, slow/gentle/easy downhills, and riding on sealed roads. Experiencing peace/quiet/solitude was also a little more important to beginner riders.

- Most riders indicated some tolerance for carrying/pushing their bikes, although this was generally for no more than 25% of any ride.

Riders were asked about the features of mountain biking most important to them, and the setting attributes they preferred for their riding experiences. The former required riders to select their preferences from a list of feature options. The latter required riders to score the importance of listed setting attributes, and to state their favourite riding conditions in an open ended question. This chapter is divided into three corresponding sections.

4.1 Preferred Features of Mountain Bike Riding

Riders were asked to indicate their top-three features of mountain biking from the list provided. Table 4.1 (below) summarises these responses for the whole sample, and also for respective-experience level groups.

While experiencing speed, exercise and scenery were the top three features for the whole sample, it is clear from Table 4.1 that preference for these features changed with increasing experience. The only features which appeared to be of generally similar importance to all riders were appreciation of views/scenery/nature, socialising with friends, and exploring new areas. The variation in the importance of the other features indicated that changes in rider preferences were occurring with their greater experience.

Features which became progressively more important with greater experience included skill challenge (technical riding), physical challenge (hard riding), and racing. Speed/excitement/risk was also consistently important for the more experienced riders (less important for beginners). By contrast, features which became progressively less important included relaxation/easy riding/cruising, and to a lesser extent peace/quiet /solitude.

Table 4.2: Top Three Features of Mountain Biking (n = 495)

MOUNTAIN BIKING FEATURES

(the top three features)

TOTAL %
Beginners (combined)
Moderately experienced
Have much experience
Expert/very experienced
Speed/excitement/risk
43
17
43
46
51
Exercise/fitness workout
42
59
48
44
23
Appreciating views/scenery/nature
38
47
37
39
31
Exploring new areas
33
34
42
33
23
Riding/socialising with friends
33
37
34
33
30
Racing and race training
28
0
4
21
44
Physical challenge (hard riding)
24
12
24
26
27
Skill challenge (technical riding)
22
4
17
21
41
Developing and improving skills
15
5
22
15
11
Commuting around town/transport
7
17
8
9
7
Relaxation/easy riding/cruising
7
31
7
2
3
Peace/quiet/solitude
2
19
7
2
3
Overnight trips/touring options
2
4
1
4
4
Other
2
4
2
2
2

These results show a number of features contribute to riding enjoyment. Beginners more often favoured socialising, appreciating views/scenery/nature, exercise and fitness, and relaxation/easy riding. Experienced riders more often favoured speed, technical challenge, and racing.

4.2 Preferred setting attributes

Riders scored how important they considered a number of listed setting attributes were to their riding experiences. The results here are summarised in short sections for the different attribute types. These attributes represent many of the physical and social components of mountain bike riding (e.g., landscape settings, track types, track conditions, downhill sections, uphill sections, social encounters). Variations in responses due to different levels of rider experience are tabulated fully in Appendix 7.

4.2.1 Preferences for Landscape Settings

Some of the setting attributes listed dealt with landscape settings in which rides could take place. The overall responses of riders are presented in Table 4.3.

Table 4.3: Landscape setting preferences

SETTING ATTRIBUTES - Landscape setting
I don't want this
I avoid if possible
OK some times
I usually prefer this
Always essential
* Route in open farmland
2
15
64
17
2
* Route in forestry area (Pine)
1
2
40
53
5
* Route in native forest/bush
0
1
15
74
10

Rider preferences most favoured the native forest/bush settings. Most riders were prepared to ride in farmlands at some times, but active preference was for forested areas, and in particular those of native forests. This pattern of preferences varied little between riders of different experience (Table 4.4).

Table 4.4: Landscape setting preferences (by experience level)

SETTING ATTRIBUTES

- Landscape setting

I don't want this
I avoid if possible
OK some times
I usually prefer this
Always essential

NOTES
* Route in open farmland

- Beginner

- Moderate experience

- Much experience

- Expert experience


7

1

1

1

16

14

14

20

54

60

68

64

23

19

15

16

0

6

1

0
Most were tolerant of this some of the time. There was little variation across experience levels.
* Route in forestry area (Pine)

- Beginner

- Moderate experience

- Much experience

- Expert experience


5

0

0

0

3

2

1

2

53

40

41

33

33

52

54

60

5

6

4

5
Most were neutral or positive towards this. Preference was least amongst beginners, but was consistently higher for more experienced riders.
* Route in native forest/bush

- Beginner

- Moderate experience

- Much experience

- Expert experience


3

0

0

0

2

1

0

1

23

14

11

20

65

73

79

70

7

12

10

10
Most riders indicated a strong preference for this, although it was not considered always essential. This was consistent across experience levels.

The largely consistent responses across the experience levels, suggested common preferences for most riders. Some variation was apparent in rider preferences for forestry areas (Pine), with beginners least interested in this setting. Higher preference was apparent for more experienced riders and expert riders.

The generally high interest in riding in all setting types suggested wide-ranging options for provision of mountain biking opportunities. Although greatest rider preference was for natural forested areas, where conservation values and other recreational uses are likely to be at highest levels, riders were also interested in other types of areas. In these farm and forestry areas, the potential management and social conflicts are likely to be less acute because of lower conservation priority or competing recreation uses. However, access to farm and forestry areas can also be difficult, because they are generally in private ownership and have management priorities which may conflict with recreation.

4.2.2 Preferences for Track Type

Riders indicated preferences for different types of tracks. Those listed in Table 4.4 represent the range of tracks possible for riding. The track types are listed in a general order of increasing development, beginning with single-track (walking type) and ending with sealed road.

Table 4.5: Track type setting preferences

SETTING ATTRIBUTES - Track type
I don't want this
I avoid if possible
OK some times
I usually prefer this
Always essential
* On single-track (walking)
1
4
26
45
24
* On farm roads/tracks (4WD)
1
6
54
34
5
* On firebreaks/other (4WD)
1
4
38
48
9
* On gravel roads
2
22
58
15
3
* On sealed roads
15
47
32
4
2

Overall, riders expressed greatest preference for single-track settings for their riding. As tracks become more `developed', rider preferences declined. Results indicated that sealed and gravel roads were generally unpopular settings for riding.

When variations according to rider experience were considered (refer Table 4.6), preference for single-track riding increased strongly amongst the more experienced riders. Only the beginner riders showed any negative preference against single-track riding (26% overall). A similar preference pattern was apparent for 4WD tracks in general (farms/firebreaks/others), although it was still clearly secondary to that for single-track riding. The 4WD tracks on farms were generally less preferred than those in other areas such as firebreaks. Expert riders in particular showed greater preference for the non-farm 4WD tracks.

Table 4.6: Track type setting preferences (by experience levels)

SETTING ATTRIBUTES

- Track type

I don't want this
I avoid if possible
OK some times
I usually prefer this
Always essential

NOTES
* On single-track (walking)

- Beginner

- Moderate experience

- Much experience

- Expert experience


7

1

0

0

19

4

1

0

53

32

23

9

17

47

48

54

3

16

28

37
Preference increased a lot with experience. Beginners were much less positive, tending more towards tolerance rather than preference.
* On farm roads/tracks (4WD)

- Beginner

- Moderate experience

- Much experience

- Expert experience


7

1

0

0

10

7

6

2

54

44

59

55

28

40

31

37

0

8

4

6
Most were neutral or positive towards this, and this pattern was largely consistent across experience levels.
* On firebreaks/other (4WD)

- Beginner

- Moderate experience

- Much experience

- Expert experience


9

0

0

0

19

2

2

1

45

34

45

26

24

55

45

60

2

9

9

13
Preference was least amongst beginners, and much higher amongst more experienced riders, particularly for the experts.
* On gravel roads

- Beginner

- Moderate experience

- Much experience

- Expert experience


7

1

1

1

7

27

23

23

67

52

60

55

17

16

14

18

2

4

2

3
Most were tolerant/neutral towards this. A consistent proportion were positive, while some more experienced riders were negative.
* On sealed roads

- Beginner

- Moderate experience

- Much experience

- Expert experience


5

10

19

17

21

44

51

58

41

43

28

22

21

3

1

3

12

0

1

0
Beginners were most positive towards this, while most other riders were more negative. This increased with experience.

4.2.3 Preferences for Track Conditions

A large number of the setting attributes listed related to the condition of track surfaces. Overall results in Table 4.7 indicate that riders had a variety of preferences for these different conditions.

Table 4.7: Track Condition Preferences

SETTING ATTRIBUTES - Track condition
I don't want this
I avoid if possible
OK some times
I usually prefer this
Always essential
* Smooth/benched/open/clear
2
7
58
28
12
* Rough/uneven/tight/narrow
2
8
36
41
12
* Root/rock/log obstructions
3
25
47
19
5
* Step/ditch/culvert obstructions
6
33
43
14
4
* Branch/foliage obstructions
5
28
54
10
3
* Mud/puddle/bog/wet conditions
7
26
48
13
6
* River/stream/creek crossings
1
14
57
21
6
* Loose gravel/sand boulders
7
46
40
6
1
* Carrying/pushing the bike
3
33
62
2
1

The condition most preferred overall was for tracks which were rough/uneven/tight/narrow. The next most preferred condition was for tracks which were smooth/benched/open/clear. This clear difference indicates that there is variety in the conditions desired by riders. This is reinforced by other results which show that while many riders want to avoid some of the obstructions possible on tracks, others are tolerant of these or prefer to encounter them. Some variation in overall responses reflects differences between riders of different experience levels (Table 4.8).

When considering track surface, riders generally appeared to tolerate both the clear/smooth and the tight/rough types of tracks. In the case of clear/smooth tracks, this represented a general tolerance by most riders, and a strong preference amongst the beginners (54%). By contrast, many of the beginner riders (50%) were negative toward tight/rough tracks, while preference increased strongly amongst the more experienced riders. Experts were least positive toward clear/smooth tracks (29%), and most positive toward the tight/rough types (78%).

Obstructions along a track were considered in the forms of roots/rocks/logs, steps/ditches/culverts, and branches/foliage. In general, beginner riders were most negative toward these. Experienced riders were more tolerant and positive towards encountering such obstructions. It would seem that with increasing experience levels, track roughness and obstructions become less of a hindrance, and more of a challenge. It would seem likely that a track managed for a higher degree of roughness and obstruction would discourage some riders, particularly those of lesser experience.

Other track conditions considered were the wetness of the track, the presence of unconsolidated surfaces (gravel/sand/boulders), and the presence of river crossings. Riders most negative toward wet track conditions were the beginners and the experts. All riders were negative toward unconsolidated surfaces, suggesting that would represent a major barrier to the desirability and enjoyment of riding, if present on large parts of potential riding routes. Most riders appeared tolerant of river-crossings, and these were attractive for many experienced riders. An interesting exception was the 24% of expert riders negative toward river crossings, which may represent concern about the effect of the water on their generally more expensive bikes.

Table 4.8: Setting attribute preferences - Track condition

SETTING ATTRIBUTES

- Track condition

I don't want this
I avoid if possible
OK some times
I usually prefer this
Always essential

NOTES
* Smooth/benched/open/clear

- Beginner

- Moderate experience

- Much experience

- Expert experience


3

3

1

0

3

9

7

8

39

53

64

64

47

31

24

22

7

3

4

7
Beginners were most positive, but this decreased for more experienced riders. Most riders were tolerant of this some of the time.
* Rough/uneven/tight/narrow

- Beginner

- Moderate experience

- Much experience

- Expert experience


10

2

0

0

40

9

2

2

44

47

37

21

2

30

49

60

3

11

12

18
Beginners were most negative, but once some experience was gained riders were much more positive. This increased further with experience.
* Rock/root/log obstructions

- Beginner

- Moderate experience

- Much experience

- Expert experience


16

3

1

0

51

27

23

11

30

45

53

47

3

18

18

33

0

5

5

9
Beginners very negative, but once some experience was gained, riders became more tolerant and positive. Experts were more positive.
* Step/ditch/culvert obstructions

- Beginner

- Moderate experience

- Much experience

- Expert experience


25

6

3

2

53

37

31

20

17

41

47

52

2

12

14

21

3

3

4

6
Beginners were very negative, but once some experience was gained, riders became more tolerant and positive. Experts were a little more positive.
* Branch/foliage obstructions

- Beginner

- Moderate experience

- Much experience

- Expert experience


16

4

3

5

28

32

26

26

52

53

56

51

2

6

3

14

2

5

2

4
Most riders were tolerant or negative towards this. This was largely consistent across experience groups.
* Mud/bog/wet conditions

- Beginner

- Moderate experience

- Much experience

- Expert experience


16

5

4

11

24

16

27

38

47

52

50

36

9

18

13

13

3

9

6

2
Both beginners and experts were most negative towards this, possibly for different reasons. Riders between these were more tolerant.
* River/stream/creek crossings

- Beginner

- Moderate experience

- Much experience

- Expert experience


7

1

0

2

14

13

11

22

74

53

59

49

2

23

26

22

3

10

4

6
Most riders were tolerant towards this. Experienced riders were a little more positive. Experts and beginners were the most negative.
* Loose gravel/sand boulders

- Beginner

- Moderate experience

- Much experience

- Expert experience


12

7

5

9

58

47

43

44

21

36

46

40

2

8

6

7

0

2

0

0
Most riders were negative towards this, particularly the beginners. Other riders tended to be less strongly negative, being more often tolerant.
* Carrying/pushing the bike

- Beginner

- Moderate experience

- Much experience

- Expert experience


18

1

1

2

41

32

30

33

41

65

66

60

0

2

2

3

0

0

1

2
Beginners were most negative towards this. Other riders were more tolerant. This pattern was consistent for experienced riders.

The combined effect of these track attributes on mountain biking is often represented by the amount of time spent having to push or carry the bike. When asked to rate their degree of preference for experiencing this (Table 4.8), most riders were tolerant of it, but would generally prefer not to. Beginners were most negative toward this, while other riders were considerably more tolerant of the possibility. This all suggests that for most riders, there is some acceptance of pushing/carrying as an inevitable attribute of their trips. Just how much of this they would be prepared to tolerate was addressed by a separate question, the results of which are presented in Table 4.9.

Table 4.9: Tolerance for carrying the bike on rides

CARRYING THE BIKE

(% of ride that carrying tolerated)

TOTAL %
Beginner

(combined)
Moderately experienced
Have much experience
Expert/very experienced
No carrying at all-

Upto 5% of the trip-

10% of the trip -

15% of the trip -

20% of the trip -

25% of the trip -

30-50% of the trip-

Over 50% of the trip-

2

13

28

18

15

14

7

3
14

24

27

12

10

8

5

0
0

12

27

16

18

18

5

3
0

13

25

21

18

13

7

3
1

10

37

16

9

15

8

5


Almost all riders were prepared to carry their bike at some point on their rides. Few were unwilling to do so, and of these almost all were beginners. For more experienced riders, the tolerable proportion of carrying preference was similar, with most prepared to carry bikes for between 5 - 25% of a ride. Where this carrying takes place is likely to vary for different riders. More experienced riders will be riding where others may have to carry, but they in turn may be attempting more challenging rides themselves, and may carry just as often. Despite this skill difference, the proportions of time riders are prepared to carry appear relatively constant across experience classes (beginners being the exception).

The implication for management is that rider numbers will be minimal on those rides where experienced riders indicate that carrying is likely over 25% of the time. Maintenance of riding conditions that require this level of carrying/pushing of bikes may represent a management option for limiting mountain bikes to acceptable levels rather than banning them. This would also filter out the less experienced riders, leaving those more experienced and committed riders. These riders tend to have higher involvement in clubs and races, with both these characteristics providing convenient mechanisms for accessing the riders to improve rider education and responsibility. These also provide some rider infrastructure for promoting their own self-regulation.

4.2.4 Preferences for Downhill Sections

The downhill sections of rides are an important component of the riding experience, as they often fulfil the desire many riders have for speed and excitement (Section 4.1). They are also an important consideration for managers due to the potential hazards from rider speed, and track damage potential from hard braking. Riders preferences for attributes of downhill sections are presented in Table 4.10.

Table 4.10: Downhill Section Preferences

SETTING ATTRIBUTES - Downhill sections
I don't want this
I avoid if possible
OK some times
I usually prefer this
Always essential
* Slower/gentle/easy
11
21
47
17
3
* Fast/smooth/open/clear
1
1
22
46
30
* Fast/rough/tight
2
10
28
36
23
* Slower/steep/technical
3
10
33
35
19

Riders were generally most negative toward slow/gentle/easy downhills, and most positive toward downhills which were fast/smooth/open/clear. However there were major variations in these preferences across experience levels (Table 4.11).

Table 4.11: Downhill Sections Preferences (by experience levels)

SETTING ATTRIBUTES

- Downhill sections

I don't want this
I avoid if possible
OK some times
I usually prefer this
Always essential

NOTES
* Slower/gentle/easy

- Beginner

- Moderate experience

- Much experience

- Expert experience


3

7

12

18

9

17

27

22

37

55

48

43

42

18

10

17

9

2

3

1
Preference was highest for beginners. It was consistently lower for more experienced riders, who were more tolerant or negative.
* Fast/smooth/open/clear

- Beginner

- Moderate experience

- Much experience

- Expert experience


5

0

0

0

2

1

1

0

44

12

22

14

39

50

42

54

10

31

35

32
All were strongly positive towards this, although beginners were distinctly less so. This was consistent for the more experienced riders.
* Fast/rough/tight

- Beginner

- Moderate experience

- Much experience

- Expert experience


16

2

0

0

47

8

4

3

28

35

30

17

7

36

41

43

3

17

25

37
Beginners were the most negative and least positive. Experienced riders were much more positive, and this increased with experience.
* Slower/steep/technical

- Beginner

- Moderate experience

- Much experience

- Expert experience


17

2

1

0

37

12

6

2

32

49

36

9

14

29

36

52

0

9

21

36
Preference for this increased with experience, being much higher amongst the more experienced riders, and the experts in particular.

Preference for slow/gentle/easy downhills was highest amongst beginners (51%). While the more experienced riders were tolerant of these easy downhills, many also felt more negative toward them, including 40% of experts. Descents which had downhill attributes representing reduced potential for speed and/or challenge were not favoured by the more experienced riders.

Almost all (75%) riders were positive toward downhills which were fast/smooth/open/clear. However, this represented only 49% of beginners compared with 86% of experts. This suggests the more experienced riders preferred the types of downhills which would allow a lot of relatively safe and controlled speed, while beginners appeared more cautious.

The differences between riders were even greater for the more challenging downhill attributes. Beginners were very negative toward downhills which were fast/rough/tight, while the other riders were more positive towards these with increased experience. This pattern was repeated for downhills which were slower/steep/technical. The main difference arising was the even more positive preference for these types of highly technical downhill attribute amongst expert riders (88%) compared with beginners (14%).

4.2.5. Preferences for Uphill Sections

Uphill sections are important as their challenge and difficulty can determine how attractive and achievable different routes may be to different riders. Uphills are also important considerations for managers, as how rideable the uphills are may determine the type of riding and rider on the track, and how many there are. Table 4.12 presents the overall responses of the riders to different types of uphill sections.

Table 4.12: Uphill Section Preferences

SETTING ATTRIBUTES - Uphill sections
I don't want this
I avoid if possible
OK some times
I usually prefer this
Always essential
* Gradual/easy/relaxed climbs
3
9
46
34
8
* Short/hard/steep sections
2
7
40
40
12
* Long/hard/steep climbs
5
15
44
26
10

Riders did not favour the easy uphill sections any more than the harder sections. In most cases, riders indicated that uphills of any description were acceptable some of the time. Many riders indicated that hard uphills were preferable components of their riding settings. However, this response did vary across different experience levels (Table 4.13).

Table 4.13: Uphill Section Preferences

SETTING ATTRIBUTES

- Uphill sections

I don't want this
I avoid if possible
OK some times
I usually prefer this
Always essential

NOTES
* Gradual/easy/relaxed climbs

- Beginner

- Moderate experience

- Much experience

- Expert experience


2

5

1

7

3

9

10

9

39

38

50

50

53

37

30

28

3

11

8

6
Preference was highest amongst beginners, and decreased with experience. Here, most riders became more tolerant rather than more negative.
* Short/hard/steep sections

- Beginner

- Moderate experience

- Much experience

- Expert experience


10

2

0

0

30

6

4

3

44

47

42

24

12

40

40

54

3

6

14

19
Beginners were most negative by far. Preference amongst experienced riders was much higher, and particularly amongst the experts.
* Long/hard/steep climbs

- Beginner

- Moderate experience

- Much experience

- Expert experience


23

6

1

2

36

21

13

3

37

50

49

29

4

18

25

48

0

5

12

18
Beginners were the most negative by far. Preference increased with experience, and was much higher amongst the experts.

When considering easy uphill sections, most riders indicated that climbs which were gradual/easy/relaxed were acceptable at least some of the time (46%). A further 42% considered these types of uphills were an important part of their riding. Most of these were the beginners, 56% of whom were positive about these. More experienced riders were progressively less so positive, with only 34% of experts considering these types of uphills important. However, very few indicated they would avoid these easy ascents if they could. It appears that most riders accept these uphills if they are present, but that their importance for enjoyable riding experiences decreases amongst the more experienced riders.

When considering the harder uphill sections, beginners were negative towards both types, while the remaining riders were more positive with increasing experience. Climbs that were long/hard/steep were preferred most positively by the expert riders (66%). Less experienced riders tended to favour the short hard ascents relatively more. These results further emphasise the preference for challenge amongst the more experienced riders.

4.2.6 Social Encounter Preferences

Rider preferences for the types of social encounters they may experience during rides are particularly important. Social encounters largely determine the degree of recreation conflict, based upon the types of users met, their numbers, and how they behave. The attributes listed here include the types of users met, and rider preferences for experiencing speed and excitement (Table 4.14). Speed is the main source of riding hazard, and of the conflict perceived by others (hence its inclusion here).

Table 4.14: Social Encounter Preferences

SETTING ATTRIBUTES - Social encounters
I don't want this
I avoid if possible
OK some times
I usually prefer this
Always essential
* Meeting motorised vehicles
45
37
16
1
0
* Meeting walkers
13
38
47
1
0
* Meeting other riders
1
7
61
26
6
* Speed/action/excitement/risk
1
2
21
30
46

Riders were most negative toward encounters with motorised vehicles. Most did not want such encounters (45%), or would avoid them if possible (37%). Only 16% accepted such encunters were OK some of the time. Perception of encounters with walkers were also negative, although to a lesser extent with 13% not wanting to encounter walkers at all, and 38% of all riders avoiding them if possible. While this left 47% who accepted walker encounters as OK some of the time, these results do indicate some perception of conflict with walkers, although the reasons were not directly addressed in this research. By contrast, most riders were tolerant (61%) or positive (32%) toward encounters with other riders.

Almost all riders preferred to experience speed/action/excitement/risk attributes in their riding, with 46% indicating it was an essential component of their riding enjoyment.

These responses did not show much variation across experience levels, as demonstrated in Table 4.15.

Table 4.15: Social Encounter Preferences (by experience level)

SETTING ATTRIBUTES

- Social encounters

I don't want this
I avoid if possible
OK some times
I usually prefer this
Always essential

NOTES
* Meeting motorised vehicles

- Beginner

- Moderate experience

- Much experience

- Expert experience


37

52

46

41

44

31

38

40

16

17

16

17

3

1

0

3

0

0

0

0
Most riders were strongly negative towards this. This pattern was consistent across experience levels.
* Meeting walkers

- Beginner

- Moderate experience

- Much experience

- Expert experience


14

17

11

12

39

42

39

32

46

38

50

52

2

2

0

3

0

0

1

1
Riders were negative or tolerant towards this in generally equal proportions. This was consistent across experience levels.
* Meeting other riders

- Beginner

- Moderate experience

- Much experience

- Expert experience


3

1

1

0

12

9

4

6

63

62

64

52

16

18

26

39

5

10

4

3
Most riders were tolerant of this some of the time. Preference for this was generally lower, but did increase with experience.
* Speed/action/excitement/risk

- Beginner

- Moderate experience

- Much experience

- Expert experience


7

1

0

0

5

2

1

2

47

20

17

15

36

31

32

28

14

47

51

55
Beginners were the least positive by far. All other riders were strongly positive, and this was consistent across the higher experience levels.

Rider dislike of meeting motorised vehicles was relatively consistent across experience levels. However, there was some indication of an interesting change between beginners and moderately experienced riders. Beginners were least inclined to oppose these encounters (37%), while the moderately experienced riders were most opposed (52%). A possible explanation is that beginners may be doing less off-road riding and have less experience of such encounters. Those who progress to having moderate experience may have had some such encounters, be riding more often in the types of tracks where such encounters are likely, but not yet have confidence in coping with these situations. This may represent a similar situation faced by walkers first encountering mountian bikes, where they have not yet become familiar with the new activity.

When considering encounters with walkers, the response pattern was again relatively consistent across experience levels. This suggests that as riders gain experience, their encounters with walkers do not lead to a major change in any perceptions of conflict with them.

When meeting other riders, the positive preference was stronger for the more experienced riders , and experts in particular (42%). Beginners by contrast were the least positive (21%). The reasons for this are not addressed in these results, but it may be that the novice riders are as intimidated by the presence of bikes as non-riders often seem to be.

The importance of experiencing speed and excitment was strong amongst experienced riders, but was considerably less for beginners. However, beginners were not negative towards this, with 47% considering it was acceptable some of the time, and a further 36% preferring to experience it if possible. These results suggest that as riders become more experienced, the desire for excitement in their riding, although not initially strong, develops quickly to become a consistently important component of riding experiences. This is an important point for managers, as this rider preference does imply a potential hazard and conflict source. Not addressed in these results is the degree to which riders may exercise good judgement and responsible riding to minimise these potential problems in some settings, and what managers may also do to ensure this.

4.3 Statements of Favourite Riding Conditions

Complementing the preference scores results in Section 4.2 was an open-ended question where riders described their favourite riding conditions. Over 50 codes were designed to represent the descriptions used by riders, and up to six of these codes could be used to categorise the responses of each rider. Responses were then combined and tabulated, with the % figures representing the proportion of riders who included the condition in their overall response. Table 4.16 presents the main attributes included in rider statements of their favourite conditions. The top five conditions from each experience level group are in bold.

Table 4.16: Summary of favourite riding conditions (open-ended)

TYPES OF RIDING CONDITIONS PREFERRED BY MOUNTAIN BIKERS
Total % stating this
Beginners
Moderate experience
Have much experience
Expert/very

experienced
Some technical difficulty/challenge

Downhills which are fast/smooth/open

An undulating route/mixture of ups and downs

Downhills which are fast/technical/tight

Riding in a forest setting (specifically native)

Single-track which is tight/narrow/winding

Riding in a forest setting (not type-specific)

Ride duration between 2-3 hours

Track surface which is smooth/fast/open

Good scenery and viewpoints

Rides going through a variety of terrain/settings

Rides including a variety of track surfaces

Uphills which are long/steep/smooth

Single-track and other (farm track/4WD)

Few obstructions on track/not too difficult

Track surface which is dry/hard (not rocky)

Uphills which are gradual/gentle/easy

Ride duration of between 3-4 hours

Track surface which is rough/technical/fast

Uphills with short steep/technical sections

Track surface which is smooth/easy/open

Ride duration of between 1-2 hours

Single-track which is smooth/open/clear

Farm tracks/4WD on farms

Uphills which are long/steep/rough/technical

Forestry tracks/4WD in exotic forests

Track surface which is wet/muddy/slippery

Experiencing some speed/action/excitement

Others (all individually < 5%)

37

31

30

29

28

26

21

20

20

19

17

17

17

16

16

15

14

14

14

13

11

10

9

7

6

6

6

6

< 5
18

24

26

2

28

2

22

18

13

24

4

7

2

4

50

11

48

4

2

0

42

26

7

15

0

9

7

2

31
31

42

24

18

30

14

23

18

23

22

10

15

11

13

29

12

23

15

12

15

17

11

18

8

1

11

10

7

45
41

28

35

34

28

29

20

22

21

14

23

22

21

25

7

18

9

18

14

11

4

7

6

6

8

4

6

7

43
41

24

28

41

28

47

22

21

19

25

18

13

26

23

2

26

5

9

23

14

0

7

4

2

13

2

2

3

52

Many conditions were preferred relatively evenly by all the experience groups. These represented the conditions important to all riders. The most prominent of these included:

- An undulating route/mixture of ups and downs

- Riding in a forest setting (specifically native)

- Riding in a forest setting (not type-specific)

- Ride duration between 2-3 hours

- Track surface which is smooth/fast/open

- Good scenery and viewpoints

There were also clear changes in preferences for some conditions with increased experience. Some not popular or apparent for beginners became more important for the more experienced riders. Others were more important for the beginners, but became less so amongst the more experienced riders.

Those conditions which became more popular with greater experience included:

- Single-track which is tight/narrow/winding

- Some technical difficulty/challenge

- Downhills which are fast/technical/tight

- Uphills which are long/steep/smooth

- Single-track and other (farm track/4WD)

- Track surface which is rough/technical/fast

- Uphills which are long/steep/rough/technical

Those conditions which became less popular with increased experience included:

- Few obstructions/track not too difficult

- Uphills which are gradual/gentle/easy

- Track surface which is smooth/easy/open

- Ride duration between 1-2 hours


The main themes apparent from the descriptions given by riders overall emphasised preference for experiences which were challenging and interesting for their level of riding abilities, and preferably undertaken in a natural environment. Variety in settings and experiences was a common theme. When combined, the three conditions referring to variety in Table 4.16, represented 64% of all riders. Similarly, preference forest settings was stated by 53% of riders (comprising 28% stating native forest areas specifically, 21% stating forests in general, and 4% stating plantation forests).


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