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Gravity Biking

noun; compounding
An extreme sport involving driving weighted bicycles down steep slopes wearing no protective gear.
 
Although this sport started in the United States, it has become popular and taken on an even more extreme form among groups of poor, young men in and around Medellin, Colombia who take advantage of the extremely steep, hill topography of the city. The sport is popular despite the high risk of fatality involved, largely due to the cultural mentality of living as if each day could be your last imposed upon a majority of Colombians as a result of the Pablo Escobar era of the 1980s and 1990s. It is also possible to call a participant in this extreme sport a “gravity biker.”
Etymology : “Gravity” relates to the scientific law described by Newtonian physics. In general, it relates to the invisible forces that control the Earth’s orbit and allows all things on Earth to remain on the planet’s surface. It comes from the Latin gravitatem meaning weight, heaviness, or pressure from the root gravis meaning heavy. “Biking” in this case is a noun referring to riding a bicycle, either for recreational or competitive sporting purposes. “Bike” is a clipping of the word “bicycle” which comes from the Latin prefix “bi-“meaning two and the Latinized form of the Greek kyklos meaning circle or wheel. “Biking” is formed through affixation changing the noun form of the clipped “bike” from “bicycle” into a present participle verb form by adding the “-ing” suffix, a suffix that comes from the Old English “-ende.” Through the process of vowel weakening during the late Old English period the spelling of the suffix with a “-g” began by the 13th-14th centuries and Anglo-Norman scholars confused it with “-ing” which was an Old English suffix attached to verbs that meant their action, result, product, or material.
Source : “In this region, ten young men have died gravity biking in the past year and a half.” (BBC Radio Hour, NPR, 9/12/19)
Last modified: 6 December 2019


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