Year of Award


Document Type

Professional Paper

Degree Type

Master of Arts (MA)

Degree Name


Department or School/College

Department of Sociology

Committee Chair

Robert Balch

Commitee Members

Jill Belsky, Nabil Haddad


Cycling, Ethnography, Freerider, Mountain Biking, USFS


University of Montana


Kosky, Marlana M., M.A., Fall 2007 Sociology Living to Ride: A Sociological Study of Freeriders in Missoula Montana Chairperson: Robert W. Balch This paper is an ethnographic description of The Safety Team, a group of freeriders frequenting the Bike Doctor in Missoula Montana. Information about this faction of freeriding’s social world is revealed using the members’ own words and experiences as data. This study is meant to explore the significance of bike riding to the members of Missoula’s freeride “scene,” including its effect on their beliefs, values, and ethics. Qualitative methods are used including participant-observation structured within the theoretical framework of symbolic interactionism. Relationships within freeriding are explored, as are associations between this group and members of the larger society such as land managers. The history of mountain biking and freeriding are explored and issues within Missoula’s local backdrop are described. The riders’ perspectives on their sport and its image is described while the future of freeriding is speculated upon using extreme sport predecessors with commonalities such as skateboarding and snowboarding.



© Copyright 2007 Marlana Michelle Kosky