If I have a gift in cycling, it’s in the ability to keep turning the cranks. Which is to say, I certainly don’t have any special talent in the technical mountain biking arena.
And yet, if you were to compare my technical biking skill, it would be very nearly above average. I can ride up and down minor ledges. I can go over moderate-size logs. I can navigate hairpin turns, as long as they are not terribly tight. I can, if the situation requires, ride up short stretches of loose shale.
How is it I can perform all these magnificent feats of derring-do? I think I can narrow it down to one particular thing.
The Three Try Rule.
How the Three Try Rule Works
I started riding with The Core Team (Bob, Dug, Rick, Brad, Kenny) after the Rule had been established, so I’m afraid I can’t offer any insight into its history. However, the premise of the Rule is elegant both in its simplicity and usefulness.
Any rider can try any move three times.
This means that if, as you’re riding on a trail, you dab (put a foot down), crab (hit a rock with your pedal, throwing you off your line or off your bike), or just plain fall down, you get to go back and try it another two times.
By itself, that doesn’t seem like much of a Rule. The Three Try Rule, however, has an extensive set of supporting corollaries that give it its true power.
- A Move is What You Think it Is: If, either on-trail or off-trail, you find a series of logs, rocks, ledges, roots, or any other interesting challenge, you can call it a move and commence to try to clean (successfully ride over) it three times.
- Exception 1: If you’ve been declaring move after move after move, to the point that the group hasn’t moved 50 yards in the past four hours, people will start to find you annoying.
- Exception 2: If everyone’s tired from a whole day of riding and just wanting to get back to the trailhead (except you), there are no moves. Just shut up, will you?
- Exception 1: If you actually cleaned the move, you get to remain at the top.
- Exception 2: If you missed the move but had an epiphany that will almost certainly get you a “clean,” you can ask for (and usually receive) cuts in line and an immediate extra turn. If, during your extra turn, you fail, you are a dork.
- Addendum 1: Encouragement, advice, and commentary may be useful or useless in nature, but must be at least moderately entertaining. If you aren’t funny, shut up.
- Addendum 2: If you clean the move on your first try, but nobody else does, you are The Champ.
- Addendum 3: If you are the Champ, your advice must be taken seriously. The move is your throne.
- Addendum 4: The Champ gets to make a short speech, usually thanking all the little people, and concluding that this is something they can’t take away from you.
- Ennui Override: At some point, you need to let it go. You’ll get it next time. Let’s move on. Seriously. It’s getting dark.