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:
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.
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:
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.