Cycling for Fun, Not Fitness: Sports Tracking Is Not All About Performance

Daniel Harrison*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


In the summer of 2020, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, a ransomware attack took Garmin’s Connect platform offline when athletes relied on it for motivation and social connectivity. Rather than lamenting the loss of support, the downtime prompted some cyclists to re-evaluate and reduce their reliance on tracking, providing a unique opportunity to investigate their motivations for tracking and the implications for design. Our investigation into online discussions during the outage reveals that cyclists stopped, or changed, tracking when the focus on performance undermined their enjoyment or conflicted with their intrinsic motivations, such as fun, adventure, and socialisation. This paper argues for the need to align tracking platforms with the motivations of diverse athletes, advocating for technologies that support, rather than dictate, athletes' goals. We present the overarching lesson that technology should be inclusively designed with the needs and aspirations of a broader range of athletes, moving away from a performance-centric focus to embrace broader motivations including enjoyment. This approach can enable platforms to flexibly support a broader range of cyclists' objectives, enriching the CyclingHCI literature and promoting a more inclusive narrative that prioritises “fun over fitness”.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages5
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 19 Jan 2024
EventCyclingHCI: A CHI 2024 Workshop - Hawaii, Honolulu, United States
Duration: 12 May 2024 → …


WorkshopCyclingHCI: A CHI 2024 Workshop
Country/TerritoryUnited States
Period12/05/24 → …
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