To the ravines! Encountering, exploring, and expanding Toronto’s mountain bike trails during and beyond the Covid-19 pandemic

  • Matthew Tiessen Toronto Metropolitan University


This paper is about how Toronto’s urban mountain bike trails offered an escape from the reductive worldview I’m calling the “Covid Cosmology”. I describe how in the face of Covid-19 lockdowns, Toronto’s mountain bike trails offer cyclists salutary experiences that run counter to those offered by the centralized authorities intent on managing the pandemic. These salutary experiences include: 1) Freedom; 2) Expansion, Optimization & Intensification, 3) Flow, 4) Boundaries, Exclusions, and Creating Community, and 5) Risk. Informed by non-representational ethnographic approaches (Vannini, 2015), I examine the use and expansion of Toronto’s urban mountain bike trails by venturing into the wilds that exist above, below, and alongside urban environments during the pandemic’s painful periods of lockdowns. The objective: to speculate about the ways human potential can be expanded with the help of urban wilderness and in response to totalizing ontologies designed to define life itself using a narrow, binaristic worldview.


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Author Biography

Matthew Tiessen, Toronto Metropolitan University

Matthew Tiessen is an Associate Professor at Toronto Metropolitan University (TMU), where he teaches in the School of Professional Communication (ProCom). He is also a faculty associate with TMU’s and York University’s Joint Graduate Program in Communication & Culture. His research has been supported with a SSHRC Insight Grant (2017-present) and a SSHRC Insight Development Grant (2013-16) in the area of Digital Economy. Some of his recent research focuses on how digital technologies are increasingly being used by governments, corporations, and citizens to develop algorithmically driven tactics that can govern and shape everyday activities. He also publishes work on visual communication and design, nature and flow, affect and aesthetics, and finance and power. His writing has been featured in a range of interdisciplinary books and journals.

How to Cite
Tiessen, Matthew. 2022. “To the Ravines! Encountering, Exploring, and Expanding Toronto’s Mountain Bike Trails During and Beyond the Covid-19 Pandemic”. Eracle. Journal of Sport and Social Sciences 5 (1), 64 - 93.