• The paradoxes of cyclotourism: Constructing and consuming nature

      Cox, Peter; University of Chester (2013-08-14)
      As an archetypal form of low carbon footprint travel, bicycle tourism appears on the surface to be an ideal candidate for sustainable tourism. Taking a longer historical view, however, one begins to become aware of complex paradoxes emerging from cyclotourist practices. Examination of cyclotourists’ own writings shows how nature and the natural have been successively constructed as an object of discourse. Two themes are of especial interest in this study. First, a discourse of wilderness and otherness is apparent as a key theme reinvented in differing forms by successive generations of riders and writers. Second, there is a parallel discourse of domestication at work in which nature and the natural become tamed and part of the human. Although apparently contradictory, these two themes are deeply intertwined in the literature: the cyclotourist is simultaneously both apart from the landscape and yet belongs in it. Further, the relationship between rider and the spaces ridden has had consequences in terms of the built environment as cyclists pioneered road improvements, transforming the object of their narrative. The paper draws principally on archival material from The Cyclists’ Touring Club (CTC) in the UK (founded 1878) to explore changing constructions of, and attitudes toward, ‘nature’. It chronicles changing attitudes and it analyses the production and reproduction of discourses and maps their transformation through the 20th century. In conclusion it also points to the ambiguities and contradictions inherent in contemporary cyclotourist practices as these have become much more closely enmeshed in the fossil fuel economy through changes in modes of activity.