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Building community online and on the trail: communication, coordination, and trust among mountain bikers

Pages 564-577
Received 05 Jul 2016
Accepted 20 Jan 2017
Published online: 15 Feb 2017


The affordances of new information and communication technologies (ICTs) have altered the ways that communities emerge, interact, and organize, creating possibilities for new forms of interaction. Using a case study of the mountain biking community, this paper examines the impact of ICTs on community bonds and boundaries. Based on 60 intensive interviews in North America, survey results from 2363 mountain bikers around the world, and email exchanges with an addition 98 of the survey respondents, the findings suggest several ways that online and in-person communication intersect to blur the distinction between strong and weak ties, make the boundaries of the community more porous, and accelerate the development of trust between members.

Disclosure statement

No potential conflict of interest was reported by the author.

Notes on contributor

Karen McCormack is an associate professor of sociology at Wheaton College in Massachusetts. Her work explores the relationship between inequality, resistance, and technology. [email: mccormack_karen@wheatoncollege.edu].


1. Parkour is an activity that uses military obstacle course training maneuvers to move through typically an urban space without assistance, using running, jumping, rolling over objects, vaulting, etc.

2. Meetup.com allows users to create local groups. Their mission is ‘ … to revitalize local community and help people around the world self-organize’ (Meetup.com).

3. A lift-accessed mountain in British Columbia.

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