Social media and community building in competitive women’s road cycling

  • Suzanne Ryder Università degli Studi di Ferrara
  • Fiona McLachlan Victoria University
  • Brent McDonald Victoria University


Social media has become a central part of the modern-day broadcasting of women’s sports, and it is argued to be of great importance to the development of women’s sports (Vann, 2014; Thorpe, Toffoletti & Bruce, 2017). However, the relationship between digital and social media and the development of women’s sports is complex (Sherwood, 2020). In this paper, we explore social media narratives in competitive women’s road cycling. Digital and social media are a central communication center in cycling, and self-tracking technologies and associated media are imperative to cyclists’ socializing and cycling practices and identities (Duggan, 2020; Lamont & Ross, 2019). Few studies have focused on social media and its narratives in a competitive road cycling field. The paper considers an autoethnographic account of the first author in the local bike racing scene of Melbourne, Australia. The paper reflects on the role of social media in gaining access to road cycling, bypassing structural and social barriers, and community building in the field of women’s racing. 


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Author Biographies

Suzanne Ryder, Università degli Studi di Ferrara

Suzanne Ryder is currently associated with the Università degli studi di Ferrara through a visiting social researcher program. She holds a Masters in Sport Management and Sport Policy from University of Utrecht, and she completed her PhD in Sport Sociology at Victoria University with the Sport, Diversity and Social Change Research Group. Her research focused on gender and labor relations in professional women’s road cycling. She used ethnography in multiple social sites of road cycling to create a deeper understanding of specific social relations throughout the field of competitive road cycling. Her research interests include diversity in sport, specifically in relation to gender, labor, and professionalism.

Fiona McLachlan, Victoria University

Fiona McLachlan is a lecturer in sport studies and a research fellow in the Institute for Health and Sport (IHES) at Victoria University. She completed her PhD at the University of Otago in 2012. Her thesis investigated the cultural representations of public swimming pools and their emergence and apparent decline. Through this work, she produced an innovative methodology to analyze the politics of temporality, that is, the ways that social problems and issues are framed in ways that already have the future fated and then effects of this framing for social transformation. Her research interests include discrimination and cultural diversity in sport, particularly the issues of sexism, racism, and homophobia in sport. Her interdisciplinary research has been published in a wide range of high-quality journals and books, and she has led and contributed to several funded research projects, for example “Netball Victoria Oral History Project”, “Increasing Women’s Participation in Cycling”, and “Women’s Participation in Sport and Active Recreation in Melbourne’s West”.

Brent McDonald, Victoria University

Brent McDonald is a senior lecturer and research fellow in the Institute for Health and Sport (IHES) and a member of the Sport, Diversity and Social Change Research Group. His research focuses on two clearly identified areas: the sociology of sport and Japanese studies. He held a visiting professor position at Doshisha University in 2013 and has been an invited speaker to several Japanese universities including Waseda, Meiji and the University of Tsukuba. His research in the sociology of sport has concentrated on race, migration, and identity, specifically contextualized within post-colonial Australian society. Driven by a social justice agenda, his work seeks to deconstruct dominant and common-sense notions of diversity, inclusion, and race, and in doing so understand persistent inequities and exclusionary practices that occur in sport, exercise, and physical education spaces. His research directly informs his teaching practice in the College of Sport and Exercise Science. He is the Vice President of the International Sociology of Sport Association, and co- founder and co-convener of the Sport Thematic Group for the Australian Sociological Association.

How to Cite
Ryder, Suzanne, Fiona McLachlan, and Brent McDonald. 2022. “Social Media and Community Building in Competitive Women’s Road Cycling”. Eracle. Journal of Sport and Social Sciences 5 (1), 110 -25.