Ruminations of A Man Who is Lying on His Back

01.3.2012 | 10:40 am

Let it be known: there is such a thing as feeling too good. I have proof, which I shall present, in the form of an anecdote.

This anecdote is true, by the way.

It’s been such a strange December here in Utah — the driest on record, according to the weatherman. This means that at least the low trails in the mountain bike parks close to home are dry. Or on the cold days, even the higher ones are frozen. And in either case, there’s often no snow whatsoever on the trail.

Which means this has been the most mountain bikey December on record. As in, I’m getting out three or four times per week.

So, last Saturday afternoon — New Year’s Eve, for crying out loud — The Hammer and I headed out to Lambert Park for a couple hours on the trails.

And it was wonderful, for any number of reasons, including (but not limited to) the following:

  • It was so warm outside that tights, a long-sleeve jersey, and some midweight gloves were all you needed to ride comfortably. This meant my biggest grievance with winter riding — that you feel all insulated, isolated, and constricted — wasn’t much of a factor.
  • The trails were amazing. They had been wet earlier in the week, but — and this is so freaky — they had actually dried out during the week, and were now nice and tacky.
  • I was loving my new bike. I know I ‘m a total bike magpie (i.e., easily distracted by the newest shiny object), but the Specialized Stumpjumper Carbon 29 Singlespeed I’ve built up and have been riding lately is such an incredibly great bike. It is so light. So fast. So — and I’m kind of reaching for a word to describe what I’m feeling here, so bear with me — communicative. (Note to SS guys: 34×19. Note to weight weenies: 17.2lbs. Note to people who like to know specs: click the photo to see a larger version and you should be able to tell what everything is.)


So The Hammer and I are riding in Lambert Park. The only deadline we have is darkness, since we’ve already got the New Year’s festivities with the kids planned (dinner, homemade doughnuts, Guesstures).

So with time on our hands and a beautiful day to ride, we’re playing the game we usually do when we ride Lambert: Design the Ride. Over the course of this past few weeks, we’ve made a point of understanding the snarl of trails in this park, and can now make up and call out the next part of the ride he or she wants to do, like a square dance caller.

“Wildcat to corkscrew to Zig to ZPC to Poppy to Ruin to Luge to Spring to Rodeo!”

“Rodeo up to Middle Spring to Spring to River!”

“River to Zag to Indian to Brown Dog to Corkscrew to Zig!”

We were — and I’m reiterating here for the sake of emphasis — having a great time. Not training, not trying to get in a certain number of miles or hours or intensity or anything.

We were having fun. And I was feeling good.

Too good.

Brakes Work Best When You Use Them

So the light’s gone a little flat and we figure it’s time to head back home. We’re at the top of Zig, named so because of the fun way it has been constructed, taking advantage of the ravines and contours in the park — banking and swooping in the high desert singletrack.

I’m out front, because I like descending faster than The Hammer does.

I come to a banked sweeping corner. Usually I put a little bit of brake on for it, but I usually don’t feel quite so on-top-of-the-world. At this moment, I am absolutely positively sure that without braking at all I will successfully fly through this corner.

I am wrong.

About halfway through the sweeping left corner, my front wheel washes out right. I go down on my left side, at full speed, still clipped in, bumping and sliding in the dirt, brush, and rocks.

Eventually, I slide to a stop.

I begin yelling.

Now, I should note that my post-crash yelling is somewhat famous, thanks in equal parts to the volume, intensity and duration of this yell. It has even been given a name: “The Elden Scream.” I would suggest, however, that this yell (please, let’s not call it a scream) serves a number of valuable purposes:

  1. It is cathartic. Yelling at the top of your lungs when you’re hurt helps you feel better. Really. Try it the next time you get a sliver or break a leg or something.
  2. It is expressive of how I feel about the situation.
  3. It alerts others to my situation and the likelihood that I am going to need someone to call an ambulance or LifeFlight or a shaman or something. And also that I am lying in the middle of the trail and that I would really appreciate it if anyone behind me would please slow down and also not run me over, thanks.

So while I was yelling (i.e., not screaming) in this case somewhat for reasons #1 and #2, I was really yelling mostly for reason #3: I didn’t want The Hammer to run me over.

At least that’s what I choose to claim.

As it turns out, that needn’t have been a concern, because I had come to rest (though I hardly found my state restful) to the side of the trail.

Tangled up with my bike. On my back, staring at the sky. My head pointing downhill, my bike uphill from me.

Still clipped in.

So, yes, I was yelling. But let us put that aside for a moment. Because quite apart from my visceral shouting (not screaming), There was a monologue going through my mind.

I shall now share it with you.

“I should get up. When The Hammer gets here, it would be better if I were standing up.”

“Nope, I can’t stand up. I can’t sit up, either. In fact, I can’t even unclip. How weird is it that a seventeen pound bike can so effectively pin me to the ground like this.”

“You know what would be an awesome, money-making invention? If there were some way to have a camera always rolling about three feet above an to the side of you, so you could see exactly what caused your crashes, and whether crashes look as spectacular as you hope they do. I don’t think I’ve ever seen video of me having a really good crash.”

“How come The Hammer isn’t here yet? Am I still screaming yelling? I am? OK.”

“Where do I hurt, anyway? Right thumb, left hip. Those are the biggies. Back hurts a little, too. Left butt cheek feels like it’s pretty scraped up. I’ve had worse crashes.”

“How come, if I went down on my left side, it’s my right thumb that hurts? It seems like with every crash, there’s at least one injury that doesn’t make any sense.”

“Why did I think I could take this corner without braking? That was totally stupid.”

“I’m staring at the sky, so I’m on my back. But what direction is my body facing? Oh, I can see up the trail. So I spun 180 degrees when I landed.”

“Maybe I should try to get free of the bike. No, The Hammer will get here in a second. Wow, I really wish The Hammer would get here and get this bike off me. “

“Oh good. There she is. I should probably try to stop yelling now.”

All of this happens in the space of probably five seconds, after which The Hammer discovered me, and asks, as she untangles me from the bike, “How come you’re facing backwards?”

“I think I kept spinning after I landed,” I replied, no longer yelling.

“OK,” The Hammer replies. “You’ve got quite a pair of lungs, by the way. I’ve never heard such loud screaming.”


  1. Comment by Gaz | 01.3.2012 | 10:44 am

    Hey Fatty

    Fancy sharing my thoughts on those hoping for a new years weight loss, from one former fatty to another

  2. Comment by KM | 01.3.2012 | 10:56 am

    Ya know, even in print….it sounds mostly like screaming. 34×19…where did you get a 19t cog? I’d love to know. I can only seem to find 20-22t for a decent all round gear, or I should say, a gear that will let me climb better w/o dying. I am thoroughly jealous of your pristine Dec trails. Happy riding to you!

  3. Comment by davidh-marin, ca | 01.3.2012 | 11:07 am

    Glad to know you’re still able to ride in December. (Can you still ride in January though? No pictures please)

    We had a beautiful New Year’s Eve here in California, a little summit of Mt Tam to watch the sun go down, and a dash back home. No yelling though, I’ve been descending like the old man I am since finding myself on my back and in the mud Thanksgiving Day (how long do ribs take to heal?).

    Wish you were still posting stats on +3, it’s always fun to see someone else’s route… or maybe your time’s aren’t as fast as you think. (Hah)

    Happy New Year Fatty (’s) !!! Let’s go raise some money!!!

  4. Comment by traildiva | 01.3.2012 | 11:39 am

    KM, ACS now has a 19t cog if you’re running that style hub. I’ve been using one the past season and LOVE it — the bonus tooth gets me up most of the hills I can’t ride with an 18.

    I managed to get stuck in the same upside-down position and needed to be “rescued.” During a 24 hour race. While working as a Bike Patrol medic. Awkward.

  5. Comment by AngieG | 01.3.2012 | 11:42 am

    I can relate! I crashed at the Boggs race last year on the freaking jeep road (which by itself was embarrassing). As I was rumminating I look down and gasped in joy, “Oh look I found somene’s Cat Eye” Considering it lucky I crashed right here. Then to my dissmay I look at my bars and realized it was MY Cateye. I went back to being embarrassed.

  6. Comment by Jason | 01.3.2012 | 11:45 am

    17 lb mountain bike? Is the frame and all of the components made of papier mache?

  7. Comment by Christina | 01.3.2012 | 12:00 pm

    AAAAUUUUUUUGGGGHHHH! I like to think of you falling with a Calvin and Hobbes kind of speech bubble above your head.

    Stay safe out there! Pull out the old Rollerblading (TM) gear to keep the old bones cushioned.

  8. Comment by stuckinmypedals | 01.3.2012 | 12:02 pm

    @davidh, I’m a couple hours North of you. Aren’t we just having the best weather? I went out for a little ride yesterday and apparently I wasn’t the only one enjoying the nice weather because a fox or a coyote ran right in front of me. Not sure which it was and I didn’t stop to check him out. He didn’t stop to check me out either, which was exceedingly nice of him. :)

  9. Comment by StephBDC | 01.3.2012 | 12:23 pm

    I think we need more details about the homemade donuts. I hear they are powerful analgesics.

  10. Comment by bart | 01.3.2012 | 12:25 pm

    you left out crucial information : how is the bike ? your skin will grow back on, clothes can be replaced, did you scratch the paint?
    (if you can write the story you cannot be that hurt)

  11. Comment by N1LUL | 01.3.2012 | 12:32 pm


    I would say that a backpackable flying camera platform that would maintain station above and behind you is not to far in the future. I got a cool quad helicopter that has two cameras and you fly it it with your iPhone/iPad. The next step would be to have it use your iPhone as the reference and maintain programed coordinantes from its location. Doable.

  12. Comment by KM | 01.3.2012 | 12:34 pm


    ACS, Thanks for the info! I’m going to look at their cogs now! Upon blowing up Fatty’s picture, I see he’s running a Niner cogalicious cog. I know where to find them also.


  13. Comment by roan | 01.3.2012 | 12:47 pm

    Nice to have you back. Anything exciting happen ? I did hear some beast yelling its fool head off last Saturday, whatever…was a beautiful day to ride in the PNW…blissful (except for previously mentioned yelling).
    Yummmm homemade doughnuts. Do you dunk them in coffee ?

  14. Comment by rich | 01.3.2012 | 12:54 pm

    Boy ain’t that the truth…been there done that. Hope you’re feeling better and as someone else asked, (and not because we don’t care about you), but how is the Bike?

  15. Comment by rich | 01.3.2012 | 12:55 pm

    ok, so not sure why my quote didn’t show up….
    “How come, if I went down on my left side, it’s my right thumb that hurts? It seems like with every crash, there’s at least one injury that doesn’t make any sense.”

  16. Comment by Noah McMurray | 01.3.2012 | 12:57 pm

    I went down on the road late last year for the first time in 6+ years (or 54,000+ miles depending on if you prefer metrics in time or distance). My front wheel slid out at 30mph on an unexpectedly frosty wooden bridge and I slid along on my left side. My worst injury from the whole thing was my right thumb – just like you I was like “WTF? I went down on my left, why is my right thumb complaining?” As far as I can figure, my thumb got wrenched pretty hard (hyper-extended? dislocated & re-located without me realizing?) and was the longest lasting injury from my wreck. It wasn’t until 4-6 weeks later that I wasn’t noticing my thumb on a daily basis. Here’s to hoping your bike and your thumb are OK.

  17. Comment by Mark in Ottawa | 01.3.2012 | 1:18 pm

    That sounds like quite the scream…just be glad that it’s on the trail and not the road…road rash is the worst…and worthy of a good scream!

    Here’s hoping that you still had fun with the Hammer despite the end-of-day crash.

    Happy New Year.

    Mark (in Ottawa)

  18. Comment by Liz | 01.3.2012 | 1:32 pm

    I cannot believe that at no point in your monologue you were wondering if your bike was okay?

  19. Comment by MattC | 01.3.2012 | 1:44 pm

    Yo Fatty…hope the bike is ok. Also hope you didn’t tear up the little soft-bits in your thumb (that hold it all together). Been there, done that to both of them. Twenty-some years later, the left one can still pop ‘out’ in an excruciating hurry if I do something stupid…quickly reminding me that those soft bits don’t necessarily EVER heal.

    Pretty much, I’d say the answer is simple: you just need to stop crashing. It’s the only solution as you get older. Crashes are for kids. Crashes HURT. And they can have LONG LASTING repurcussions.

    But good fur US, apparently you can still type. Unless you used one hand. Or your nose. Whatever it takes, just keep us entertained. We’re all counting on you.

    Happy New Year to all Fatties! I think we should make a blanket Team Fatty resolution: NO CRASHES.

  20. Comment by HP | 01.3.2012 | 1:57 pm

    I needed a good laugh today. And you provided it, right on schedule.

    Thank you. Happy New Year, by the way!!

  21. Comment by Jacob | 01.3.2012 | 2:25 pm

    Science has got your back. Studies on profanity show that yelling profanities actually allow people to better endure pain and discomfort. I’m pretty sure screaming, I mean yelling, has the exact same effect.

    Also, it’s not clear why you couldn’t get from under the bike. Were you actually hurt or was it just a product of the shock and short time?

  22. Comment by The Hamer | 01.3.2012 | 2:29 pm

    This could be a bonding experience for you and the IT Guy. Too bad you didn’t wreck on the same trail. I guess same park is still pretty cool though. Good luck sleeping and showering with the new raspberries on your butt and side.

  23. Comment by Jim | 01.3.2012 | 2:34 pm

    The spin move is pretty cool. Some trails induce that sort of thing. We have this one gnar rocky section (picture a babyhead farming effort) that we ride, with a steep dropoff on the side. One day last winter going down it, I crashed, and was left upside down, hanging off the trail, with only part of one tire left on the trail. I was on my back, still clipped in, looking at the sky, about 60 degrees of the way to an upside-down situp. One of my buddies had to help me out of the mess. I felt horrible about it, like the lamest MTB’er ever. Then a couple other guys confessed quietly they’d crashed at the exact same spot, in the exact same way, and were completely helpless… I still felt awful about it but the schadenfreude is a nice healing balm.

  24. Comment by Shawn McAfee | 01.3.2012 | 2:47 pm

    Hey Fatty,

    Great story, I know I have been there multiple times. Sometimes you just need that quick breather while you sit there and recover.

    Beautiful new singlespeed too.

  25. Comment by RodNeeds2Ride | 01.3.2012 | 2:52 pm

    Dude, I thought it was a deer fawn bleating for it’s mother on Saturday afternoon up there toward AF Canyon – now I know! :)

  26. Comment by 3d brian | 01.3.2012 | 3:43 pm

    Which corner was it on Ziggy?

    I’m guessing the one where ZPC peels of to the right with all the loose rock?
    Or was it one of those mini whoop-de-dos?
    Or was it that one just a little below the connection with Zag?

    We need details here…

    Oh, yeah. Of all the trails in Lambert you crashed on Ziggy?!?!? That’s one of the few trails my 9 year old is comfortable on.

  27. Comment by Susie H | 01.3.2012 | 4:15 pm

    i loved how you describe the thoughts going through your head during and post crash! isn’t it amazing that all that thinking falls into the space of about 2.8 seconds??? i’m with you all the way on this one! :)

  28. Comment by Ben | 01.3.2012 | 4:46 pm

    I’ve been enjoying this Utah weather as well. I’ve done road loops out to Big and Little Cottonwood Canyons, and a nice ride up near Peoa, and some great running as well. If my skis weren’t screaming for some love from the garage, I’d say it’s been a perfect Christmas Break. I wish there was a like button for the Hammer’s comment. I guess being married to a trauma nurse has its down side.

  29. Comment by Elisabethvi | 01.3.2012 | 5:34 pm

    I’ve been pinned under my bike numerous times when I stay clipped in during a crash. Not fun! I’m always amazed my ankles bend the way they do without causing an injury.

    Enjoy the wonderful, biking weather!

    Happy New Year!

  30. Comment by Nurse Betsy | 01.3.2012 | 8:08 pm

    Haahahahhaaaaa……….Happy New Year Fatty.

  31. Comment by davidh-marinca | 01.3.2012 | 9:31 pm

    @ PAUL GUYOT!!!!

    If Bucky wants this (the action figure, not the Amish Bike Guy) we could soooo do this for him! The downside is agreeing to the use of his photo for Velonews. I’ll leave that decision up to his parents.

    Anyway, picture Bucky at a cafe table in St. Louis, kitted up of course. His bike in the picture, the Arch in the background, an espresso (or hot chocolate) and croissant in front of him perusing the latest issue of Velonews. Once Team Fatty starts voting no one else will have a chance.

    We could also have a fund raiser to ‘Shave Dave’. (though maybe the ‘chops’ are some kind of statement about JV. And when I say “Shave Dave” I mean his face.

  32. Comment by davidh-marinca | 01.3.2012 | 9:35 pm

    The above comment is rather worthless w/o the image.

  33. Comment by davidh-marinca | 01.3.2012 | 9:36 pm

    Apparently Velonews is a rather testy bunch.×421.jpg

  34. Comment by BamaJim | 01.3.2012 | 9:56 pm

    I’ve crashed almost immediately after thinking how well I was riding, so I can relate. Hope you heal soon. My New Year’s eve ride included pit bulls, a ridiculous climb, and Some angry guys with guns and still managed to be less dramatic than yours.

  35. Comment by roadrash | 01.4.2012 | 9:52 am

    That’s why I love skiing this time of of year. You fall, you slide, you tumble – - and the ski’s unclip themselves. Dust yourself off and you are on your way.

  36. Comment by Clydesteve | 01.4.2012 | 10:43 am

    Hi Fatty – So did anything get badly injured in the end? You kind of indicated you were on your back.

    I just spent a couple of days in the stinkin’ hospital. I took a very hard crash on ice while XC skiing and fractured my right hip. Fortunately the hip ball did not break off and they could pin it together.

    Maybe I will switch to snow shoeing….

  37. Comment by Clydesteve | 01.4.2012 | 10:55 am

    BTW, the day before I had one of those same embarrasing situations. I fell (XC skis) and I just could not get up without help. It ended up with my siter and daughter infront of me and my son behind me helping me stand up.

    It seems way to “old-ladyish” for emotional comfort to have a “I have fallen and i can’t get up” moment one day, and a “I fell and broke my hip” the next.

    At least i was able to cowboy up and ski back to the pick-up unassisted with a broken hip!

  38. Comment by Heidi | 01.4.2012 | 1:04 pm

    Fatty, you weren’t by chance trying to Be the Bike, were you?

  39. Comment by Keith | 01.4.2012 | 4:05 pm

    Okay, ow.

  40. Comment by Fat Monte | 01.4.2012 | 5:04 pm

    I crashed this summer. I broke my spine. Sacrum to be exact. It’s not quite as funny sounding as coccyx. In fact, the sacrum is right above it, even with your beltline if you’re a guy. I suppose, after I’d had a couple morphine hits in the ER, I mumbled something to my wife about breaking my scrotum, which is by my cocksomethingorother. Which probably did sound kinda funny. Took awhile to sort that out.

    Didn’t scream when it happened though. Got up, tried to clear the cobwebs. They just got thicker.

    Everything was really quiet. Silent. Picked up my bike. Nothing really bent or broken. Watched the truck that almost hit me speed away.

    Was told, in sign language, by a homeless man that I needed to stop, put the bike down. He was either trying to protect me from myself or steal my bike. Not sure. Maybe he was talking, but I couldn’t tell cuz everything was so darned quiet.

    Shrugged him off. Pedaled 10 miles home. Out of body experience. Beyond pain. In fact, I watched myself ride about a foot above my right shoulder. Just floated along, watching the world through a red haze.

    Took a month of of summer season for recover. Could’ve been worse. Could’a screamed.

  41. Comment by Doug (Way upstate NY) | 01.4.2012 | 6:36 pm

    Hey Fatty, Did you take your three tries? :)

  42. Comment by davidh-marinca | 01.4.2012 | 9:50 pm

    @Clydesteve Was the siter along for you or the kids?

  43. Comment by adventureswithdelilah | 01.5.2012 | 1:40 am

    this pretty much sums up why I have yet to try mountain biking

  44. Comment by Bragi Freyr Gunnarsson | 01.5.2012 | 3:26 am

    Your bike is REALLY beautiful. One of the best I’ve seen. Hope it wasn’t damaged, and that you are ok.


  45. Comment by Clydesteve | 01.5.2012 | 4:34 pm


    sister – har har

  46. Comment by Ian | 01.5.2012 | 5:47 pm

    Here’s where I disagree. That is NOT a pretty bike. Don’t get me wrong. I think it’s awesome. 17lb 29″ Awesome.

    But it just looks…


    No doubtin’ it looks a whole lot different from the cockpit

  47. Comment by Alyssa | 01.6.2012 | 6:38 pm

    I got a little too enthusiastic about running again after a severe cough put me out for two weeks. Now I’m RICEing a hurt knee. Enthusiasm can be a great motivator, but it can also lead to over-confidence!

  48. Comment by Steve | 01.8.2012 | 8:10 pm

    Love the story!! Would have loved to heard the screaming too!! Lol!! Unfortunately I don’t have any riding friends so Yelling wouldn’t do me any good at all and I’m dreading the rocky spill that I know is coming if I continue Mountain Biking, It’s been 30+ years since my dirt biking days and all the nice wipe outs! But being over a half a hundred now makes me wonder if this body is going to take it very well yes I’m a cautiously wondering. I mean living off these awesome Utah wages I can’t afford to miss any work! But the plus is since I took Mtn. Biking to the next level which means riding up to and in the mountains instead of the nicely packed canal roads that grace our valley. I have lost 40 lbs and I’m still going even in this record dry winter. I went today in the 34 degree heat wave and it was awesome to get and ride!! The indoor trainer is a total bore. Oh by the way your 29er looks great!! I ride a older Specialized Rockhopper. I’m hoping to have me a Specilaized Carve sometime in the next 3 years or so. Again Utah wages! I like this site and plan to visit it often!

  49. Comment by Abdelnour | 02.3.2012 | 11:26 pm

    That’s very much the right quoetisn to ask. I’ve got to say that at this point, I “mostly understand” the system although there are still some quoetisns I have.First, about the 2003 rankings. I ranked them by BeatPoints, and then generated a data structure of every better/worse relationship that wasn’t explicitly defined by a beatpath. That means that since the 2003 superbowl, pretty much every better/worse relationship that is even possible has been covered by a beatpath, aside from the three subjective ones that are left. I think, but am not sure, that that basically means that just about any seed ordering would be basically canceled out at this point. You’d have some different orderings earlier on, but I think it should all have settled out by now. I don’t have this logically proven, but I should at least be able to test it by running the system a few times with some randomly seeded orderings back in 2003. I’d think that with enough computer science chops, it might even be able to figure out just how many possible power rankings there are each week (given different seeds).As for the order you walk the path. Here also, I haven’t been sure how much the walking order would change the final order. It seems like it might. So to protect against that I’ve been very careful about the order in which I evaluate the teams, again erring towards the teams that appear better. The evaluation order is by the length of the beatpath below that team. The tiebreaker (if multiple teams have the same beatpath length below them) is the order of the previous week’s power rankings.One kind of funny possibility is if I’m able to prove that a power ranking is “stable” (meaning any other order from a different seed is impossible), then I might even be able to go “back in time” week by week and recalculate the earlier power rankings.

  50. Comment by fofppnv | 02.5.2012 | 8:39 am

    Pdh471 kaedfudmwbge


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