Fall Moab 2012 Part II: Power Faces

11.15.2011 | 8:19 am

Let me just say, before I show you the many photographs I am about to show you, that none of these photographs have been staged. They have not been Photoshopped, and they were not taken with the intention for which I am now going to use them.

It was just me taking pictures while the guys I was with were trying moves on their mountain bikes.

Are we clear on that?

I Accept My New Role With Dignity

At the beginning of the second day of Fall Moab 2012, I was so glad I had brought three bikes along. I didn’t want to ride the Waltworks anymore. The dropping chain problem was just too spooky; I didn’t want to chance another drop in the middle of a move. But I had lost the front wheel to the FattyFly.

The solution? move the WaltWorks’ front wheel to the FattyFly. Ta-da.

As soon as I began riding, though, I knew I wouldn’t be trying out a lot of moves that day. My crash the evening before had hurt my palms enough that I couldn’t grip my handlebars normally; I had to go with a sort of claw-like grip. Which, while very effective at making me look like I wanted to be as far away from my bike as possible while still riding it, was not an especially good grip for riding over anything rougher than a roller rink (alliteration not intended).

I decided I’d be the guy who rode along, enjoyed the day, and took pictures. Which is not a bad role to have in a group of very technical riders who are more than happy to injure themselves for your amusement in their attempted feats of derring-do.

Beer Crusher at Little Creek

We were riding the Little Creek Trail, a lesser-known — but equally great — trail very close to Gooseberry Mesa. It’s an interesting blend of tricky slickrock moves and flowlng high-desert singletrack.

Everyone got busy doing difficult moves, all custom-designed to be as damaging to chainrings as they are to rims as they are to knees, elbows and hips.

Here’s Paul, showing that he is as serious about making moves as he is about dispensing justice:


But then Cori stepped it up a notch.


Cori always steps it up a notch, thanks to the fact that he has no fear of death and cheerfully embraces a future full of pain. Which explains why, a few moves after this, Cori would miss, and land on this rough sandstone floor, flat on his back.

What it does not explain, however, is what happened next: white foam suddenly erupted all around from beneath Cori. As if — instead of blood, bones, and bile — Cori was filled with vinegar and baking soda.

As it turns out, Cori used a beer can in his jersey pocket to “soften” his landing:

Please take a moment to appreciate that this picture was shot with a phone. In fact, click on it to see a larger version. Phone cameras have come a long way. OK, I’m done geeing out now.

If I had one good hard fall like that — one where, in addition to whatever other pain I suffered, I also crushed a pressurized can with my spinal column — I would call it a day.

Cori — clearly — is nothing like me. Which I shall now demonstrate with a series of pictures. First, here he is, standing in between a couple of ledges. You should know that about five feet to his right, that crack drops off into infinity. (Nearby, Paul does stretching exercises to stay limber.)


Second, here’s Kenny and Bob, inspecting the chasm. Notice that both — wisely — are not on their bikes, and –equally wisely — neither show any sign of getting on their bikes to leap across that void. (Also, do your utmost to avoid paying too much attention to Kenny’s new cycling gear, which can best be described as “industrial objectivist kitsch.”)


Oh, here’s Cori. Approaching the gulf on his rigid singlespeed.


Ha ha. Very funny, Cori.

And here’s the final shot in Cori’s life the series.


Believe it or not, he did in fact (barely) clear that jump. I would have taken a follow-up picture, but I needed to go change into a clean pair of shorts.

Power Faces

But Cori was not the only one defying gravity and shortening his life expectancy. Nosirree. Check out my good friend Bobby G., showing that a guy on the brink of fifty can be as insane as a man half his age:


Hey, wait a second. What is that expression on his face? Let’s take a closer look:


I do believe Bob is simultaneously doing a difficult move and making a ridiculous face.

But I’m sure that was an isolated incident. Let’s take a look at Bob trying that move again:


OK, now let’s zoom in on his face:


Oh. Oh dear. I believe I’ve noticed a pattern.

No, surely not.

I’m sure Bob only does that when he’s doing a tricky climbing move. For example, here he is doing a drop, where he doesn’t make that face at all.


See what I mean? No? Here, I’ll zoom in on his face a little bit to show you:


That’s not just a ridiculous face, ladies and gentlemen. No. It is so much more. The evidence is overwhelming:

This is, in fact, Bob’s Power Face.

Of course, I’m only picking on Bob because he owes me money.

And possibly because I suffer from a similar ailment.

You see, as we got toward the second half of the day my palms stopped hurting so much and I started trying a few moves myself. Here, for example, is me riding across a little rock bridge:


What is really great, though, is the expression on my face in the next shot, as it becomes clear that I’m going to clear this little bridge:


My Power Face is, evidently, a goofy grin, with my mouth open as if to exclaim, “Durrrrr…”

Let’s have another look at me making a power face, shall we?

Here’s me grinding my way up a steep pitch:


And my face:

IMG_3925 - Version 2.jpg

Yup, I apparently have two Power Faces. In this case, if the move had gone on any longer, my Power Face would have caused me to bite clean through my lip.

Which leads to my theory about trying out hard moves:

The more concentration you put into the move, the less control you have over your expression. I.e., the more extreme Power Face you will exhibit.

In support of this theory, I submit for your scrutiny this last photograph, of the last move of the day. It’s my favorite photo of all:


Why? Because of my third Power Face, shown here:


Obviously, as demonstrated by the puffed-out cheeks and protruding lips, I am concentrating very, very (very!) hard indeed. This is, quite clearly, my Ultimate Power Face. And that should count for something, I think, whether I clean the move or not.

But perhaps these photos demonstrate a flaw in my riding — the reason I miss so many moves: I am very inconsistent with my Power Faces. Goofy grin? Bitten Lip? Puffy Cheeks/Pouty Lips? My Power Faces are all over the place.

Bob, on the other hand, is remarkably consistent in the use of his Power Face. And since Bob cleaned about 300% more moves than I did, I must admit that, empirically, his one Power Face is superior to my multitude of Power Faces.

I have learned a valuable lesson here.

I hereby resolve: The next time I try a difficult-to-clean move, I shall stick out and curl up my tongue. And you should do the same.

And also, maybe you should carry a pressurized beverage in your jersey. You know, for its cushioning effect.


  1. Comment by Jenn | 11.15.2011 | 9:22 am

    My power face is similar to Bob’s but with my tongue out to the side. Hubby teases me about it all the time, because it’s also apparently my confused face, which happens to get a lot of play in today’s world.

  2. Comment by KanyonKris | 11.15.2011 | 9:49 am

    Excellent hard-hitting (pun?) investigative reporting. I will now stick out my tongue and ride everything.

  3. Comment by Anonymous | 11.15.2011 | 10:19 am

    I just worry that when I go to Gooseberry Mesa I’m going to find lots of ‘tongue tips’ from those who have tried these moves…and failed.

    Love the third power face. We could have submitted that one for the Bicycling Magazine Hardman Contest.

  4. Comment by Arpad | 11.15.2011 | 10:45 am

    Bob’a “power face” is very relaxed. It appears that he is actually trying to touch his tongue to his nose (very difficult to do) and is therefore not even thinking about the incredible moves that he is pulling off. That is the key to his success.

  5. Comment by Dave T | 11.15.2011 | 10:47 am

    Good thing that was a can of beer. One of the fringe benefits I have discovered from using a hydration system is it doubles as a personal protection device for the inevitable fall on your back, not so go for the fall on your face though. I to have found the curled tongue to work the best on power moves. What kind of phone do you have those photos are indeed very good?

  6. Comment by CRSonic | 11.15.2011 | 10:47 am

    Fatty! I made it down to Moab for the first time this fall. I was thinking about you and your friends – too bad we didn’t cross paths!

  7. Comment by Christina | 11.15.2011 | 10:50 am

    PBR is the new GU.

    I stick out my tongue anytime going gets tough, including at work. Climbing a really tough hill? I find my tongue actually wagging. Crunching a tough problem? Tongue is out. I need a tongue cozy so that sucker doesn’t dry out.

    I’m glad the many photos didn’t involve your snipe :)

  8. Comment by davidh-marin, ca | 11.15.2011 | 11:14 am

    Tell us more about Kenny’s ‘Kit’. Are these ‘teaser’ photos of the Team Fatty Kit 2012? Like those photos of car prototypes shot through the trees. If so I would assume there’s a ‘woman’s version’ as well. Fatty as a pole dancer? That would sell.

  9. Comment by Chris | 11.15.2011 | 11:25 am

    “maybe you should carry a pressurized beverage in your jersey”

    As long as never call what he carried beer again… Swill at best, beer never…

    Are you guys even old enough to drink PBR? I thought you could only drink it if you’re 65+

  10. Comment by MattC | 11.15.2011 | 11:29 am

    Pardon me here Fatty if I tell you that I’m STILL chuckling (OK, chuckling is NOT the right word here…I’m actually laughing pretty hysterically…partly cuz it’s so dang funny, and partly cuz I’ve mashed the top-tube/stem oh-so-very-hard myself once or thrice) over your ‘purple snipe’ story once again.

    So very sorry…I just can’t help it…I realize that it’s NOT funny WHATSOEVER to the beholder of the PS…only to everyone else. I have felt your pain, thus am entitled to laugh at yours. It’s just how it works. As a cyclist you already know this.

    What I am NOT laughing about is the loss of your XXX wheel. THAT is not funny whatsoever, and I TRULY feel your pain there. And also the crushing of your Oakleys. On my BIRTHDAY MTB ride back in Sept I LOST my photochromatic sunglasses…was riding in the redwoods and even at full shade they were more annoying than having no glsases..so I put them in my pocket. Got to the top and they were gone. Rode down and up looking to no avail…I figure an Ewok is now enjoying them.

  11. Comment by MattC | 11.15.2011 | 11:37 am

    Oh…and Chirs beat me too it…PBR is beer?? Says who? Sheesh…if you’re gonna carry something and risk snapping your spine over it in a crash, I’d at least make sure it’s drinnkable! (sorry..I’m a beer-snob). Unless it’s for pouring into the boiling brat-pot…that would an acceptable demise for PBR. (I’m also thinking of the lovely body-smell after swimming in a crushed beer for the rest of that ride…makes me cringe).

    PBR is in fact my beer of choice for brat boiling. ‘Cuz it’s almost always on sale, cheap, at the supermarket. – FC

  12. Comment by davidh-marin, ca | 11.15.2011 | 11:54 am

    @MattC I think it’s a toss up. “..lovely body-smell after swimming in a crushed beer…” Or the smell of a group of middle aged guys trying to out testosterone each other. I’m sure there were taunts, challenges, and throw downs. Oh, and probably some fart jokes as well.

  13. Comment by Mateo | 11.15.2011 | 12:31 pm

    “Power Faces” aside, where did Bob get that helmet? Gift with bike? Looks like it should come with training wheels. Oh, and no, I could not clear any of the moves he pulled off, so he’s got that.

  14. Comment by Liz | 11.15.2011 | 12:32 pm

    I always love these posts with lots of photos of your exotic terrain in the west. You have some lovely places to play out there.

    Glad everyone survived, more or less intact!

  15. Comment by davidh-marin, ca | 11.15.2011 | 12:37 pm

    At Fatty’s everywhere:

    Wife#1 tells me that RAGBRAI 2012 Registration has opened up. Interested? Do you think we could interest the Great One himself (with the Hammer of course)? Team Fatty riding with Team Livestrong in Iowa, last week of July. Bet we could fashion a little fundraising contest between the teams Livestrong v Fatty.
    All we need now is a team, a contest and a bus:

  16. Comment by davidh-marin, ca | 11.15.2011 | 12:39 pm

    I said a BUS:images?q=tbn:ANd9GcT-cVKcRXxtFMiJFiLIXqK88hqrw-TfXnY_uC0WN97P4S02gX_6

  17. Comment by MattC | 11.15.2011 | 12:42 pm

    Man, now I’m hungry for beer-boiled brats! I think I have Jeannies special pork-chops tho for lunch today…pig is always good (except for the pig I mean).

    David…I agreee it’s a tossup on the choice of odors. But think of that particular lovely arouma: beer-immersed sweaty guy. That would be one for Monsters Inc (along w/ Wet dog). “Stink it up!” It could only be better if said ’smelly guy’ was sleeping in YOUR tent that night! (after also consuming numerous beer-boiled brats, n bunches of deviled eggs maybe). On our ‘all-guy’ road trips we have what’s knows as the EVS (Emergency Ventilation System)…meaning EVERY window needs to be open NOW). To invoke it, you simply shout “EVS! EVS!”

  18. Comment by RodNeeds2Ride | 11.15.2011 | 12:46 pm

    I’m not sure what my Power Face is(probably just look really mad), but my wife sucks in her cheeks and has this “fishy face” look when she’s concentrating really hard. It’s cute and apparently her grandmother (that she hardly ever saw) did the same thing, which then begs the question – are Power Faces genetic?

  19. Comment by roan | 11.15.2011 | 12:55 pm

    I’ve used the face in your last pic of your third power face, only I don’t call it a power face. It is the face I use when you make the brats before the Ride Around White Rim in One Day. It is my reaction to the beer of choice in Utah. Hint…it’s not beer. The placement in a jersey pocket is the best use of said liquid I’ve ever seen. I’ve heard rumors that the pressurized can may be incorporated into shocks on full suspension bikes to let the rider know when he has maxed out the system.

  20. Comment by evilbanks | 11.15.2011 | 2:31 pm

    Great post!

  21. Comment by Jim | 11.15.2011 | 2:52 pm

    As I understand it, completely swallowing your upper lip during a hard climb on a singlespeed adds at least 35 watts of power output. That certainly explains the last picture.

  22. Comment by Anon | 11.15.2011 | 3:11 pm

    Are you aware that you are an option in responding to the last question in the current Bicyling magazine reader poll? It seeks, among others, opinions as to which biking personality readers most want to ride with. You are a choice. Considering your super blogging fame, you should be pimping the option and trying to win a victory that will result in your being named in the March 2012 issue.

  23. Comment by roan | 11.15.2011 | 4:12 pm

    I thought of this yesterday but didn’t mention…didn’t want you to feel too bad.
    But TODAY is A NEW DAY :)
    Having lost things off a top rack I never use them anymore (IT was a mtn bike and a lower than I thought branch). ANYWAY
    What you needed for your wheel…was an anchor…BABY !

  24. Comment by eclecticdeb | 11.15.2011 | 7:43 pm

    My “power face” consists of a sweat-drenched grimace. Not a pretty site at all.

  25. Comment by RodNeeds2Ride | 11.15.2011 | 10:22 pm

    Oh, and I think Power Face #3 comes in handy the day after too much cheese.

  26. Comment by Nurse Betsy | 11.16.2011 | 12:56 am

    I’m with the other guys, PBR! Really. Not beer, yuck!

  27. Pingback by Stones Cry Out - If they keep silent… » Things Heard: e198v3 | 11.16.2011 | 11:07 am

    [...] Faces, here and here. [...]

  28. Comment by kenny | 11.16.2011 | 11:27 am

    I am the biggest beer snob out there, but you can’t carry a 22 oz bottle of Epic Spiral Jetty IPA in your jersey pocket. PBR is a great ride beer.

  29. Comment by Mark in Ottawa | 11.16.2011 | 12:22 pm

    Oh my, this post is great! I never thought of the funny faces I must make when riding a particularly steep section of a climb! It must be really hysterical, and from now on I’ll have no choice but to notice other people’s power face and laugh uncontrollably (and probably fall off my bike!).

    Thanks for this.

    Mark (in Ottawa, Canada)

    P.s. still no luck on finding the wheel, eh?

  30. Comment by Jen Mac | 11.17.2011 | 2:25 pm

    Correct me if I`m wrong due to my lack of American-ness, but isn’t PBR hipster beer?
    Hipsters on a mountain bike? So curious.

  31. Comment by sami detmer | 11.20.2011 | 6:46 pm

    I love little creek, one of the great unknown trails ou there. Wish i was there. Love the PBR shot.


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