Botching Up Moab Part II: Blood on the Rocks

Bartlett Wash

Bartlett Wash is an awesome slickrock area near Moab that has a bunch of natural bowls that are a blast to zoom into and out of. Most of the bowls are closed on three sides and the fourth side typically runs out further downhill and either narrows into a chute, or more often, opens up into another bowl with higher and steeper sides. Think of skateboard halfpipes, closed at one end

On my recent trip to Moab, I rode Bartlett and when I pulled up to the first bowl, there was four older guys (in their 40s) hanging out and eating Clif Bars. They looked tired, so I assumed they’d been out a while and surprisingly it looked like two of them weren’t wearing helmets. After I rode the bowl a while I pulled up and chatted, because one of the guys (lets call him Humpty) was riding a sweet brand new C’dale Scalpel. Anyway they asked me if I’d ridden down the chute/run-out of this bowl. I said I had on previous rides, and that I was just about to check it out again. This particular bowl had a pretty mellow run-out, but on the left side there was about a five-foot drop which got lower, running from left to right until there was no longer a drop at all.

I slowly rode down the runout and stayed right, and did about a one-foot drop. I continued to dink around the lower bowl and then climbed back out, up, and around, to try a bigger drop of maybe three feet. Anyway, before my 3rd trip, Humpty, with no helmet, gets up to ride the bowl. Since he’d been watching me ride and since they were there before I arrived, and since the Cardinal Rule of mountain biking is to know the terrain, I assumed he knew what lay before him. . . bad assumption.

Humpty Dumpty Takes a Big Fall

So the guy descends down off the lip of the bowl and heads right for the five-foot drop, locks up his rear brake and goes over the drop with his rear brake locked up and not even trying to pull up the front end or ride the drop. It looked like all the gravity in the universe was equally split between the slickrock below him and his head. There was a tiny explosion of blood on the rocks when his melon impacted. Thank goodness he wasn’t wearing a helmet. Just think how hot and uncomfortable he would have been sitting down there not having a gash in his head and not having a concussion. Just think.

He wound up with a gash on the left side of his head and one heck of a goose egg on his forehead and a nice concussion (you know, where your soft, pudding like brain crashes up against your cranium and gets bruised).

Anyway, seeing the blood dripping off the guy’s face and forming a pool on the rocks got me thinking about mountain biking’s implicit rules/assumptions.

The Implicits of Mountain Biking

• Double Dog Dare.

The first Implicit Rule of mountain biking I thought of was the ‘DDD’. This one is simple: If I complete a “move” you have to at least attempt it, or go one better and do the move more skillfully, higher, faster, etc. There only two honorable ways out of the DDD: 1) Explicitly and repeatedly admit that you are a coward (it doesn’t work to try to turn this around and try to act superior, as in “There’s no way I’m dumb enough to try that.” 2) Come up with a really good excuse such as “You know I’d normally give it the old college try, but I just had a liver transplant last week and the immunosuppressive drugs give me double vision, so I don’t know which drop to skillfully ride off.”

• Don’t Be a Moron.

Humpty certainly knew the DDD implicit rule of mt biking, but stunningly (and I mean that literally: If I would have asked Humpty “how many fingers” I’m sure he would have answered “George Washington.”) he didn’t know the Cardinal Implicit Rule of mt biking: Know the Terrain (this can also be generalized as ‘Don’t Be a Moron’). Almost anything can be ridden/jumped on a mt bike, but of course, not everything can be ridden by everyone and even the pros pre-ride stuff before they go all out.

• You Are Going to Crash.

To me this is the most intuitive Implicit of mt biking. It is irrefutable, inevitable, and universal. No matter how good or how careful you are, eventually you’re going to take a header. In fact, I’ve often heard it said that if you aren’t crashing, you aren’t trying hard enough. All I’m saying is that you are dealing with powers beyond your control. Take some precautions.

• It is Going to be Exhausting.

Yep, it’s gonna be hot, long, and brutal. Bring as much water as you can stand to carry and some food. Just remember: You don’t have to have fun to have fun.

• Even if it’s not a Race, it’s a Race.

This is actually a corollary of the DDD. Several people (like Fatty) have covered this one.

I know there are a bunch more for mt biking, but I’m actually just as interested in Road Cycling’s Implicits. Specifically, is there a rule covering how long you’re supposed draft before you come around and pull? I’m afraid I just tend to wheel suck.


19 thoughts on “Botching Up Moab Part II: Blood on the Rocks

  1. Zed

    In road biking, if you\’re crashing all the time, you probably need to join someone else\’s group ride. How long you stay on someone else\’ wheel depends on how strong you feel in comparison with the person who\’s at the front. In a really, truly organized paceline, it depends on how soon the guy in front of you peels off. But how many of us ride in really organized pacelines?
    If you\’re one of the stronger riders in the group, then yeah, take longer pulls, what the heck, why not? But if your legs just plain don\’t have it that day, you might want to pull out and head to the back before you get to the front of the line so everybody knows it.

  2. Unknown

    AlpineCoug, you and I should get along really well! But seriously, it happened a couple times on the ride Saturday. Am I supposed to accelerate and pull around, or is the other guy supposed to pull off and decelerate. A couple times I was drafting, decided to take my turn to pull, and once I hit the wind, didn\’t have the horsepower (uh, person power) to get around the guy in front of me.

  3. Zed

    Mmmm, there you have it, less-organized pacelining. Yeah, if you have a front-hogger, you sometimes have to look for some space to sneak past him on the right (if you\’re on the right, it\’s a subtle hint to the guy to peel off to the left). Some people think the object of the game is to stay at the front the longest to show everyone how strong they are. Go figure that those same people usually run out of steam on the climbs.

  4. Jay

    Like I know…I was the one that just darted ahead when in the pace got too slow for my taste and it was all on impulse…although once in the industrial district down in Springville I was behind a tall strong guy who I could tell was working hard and could have used a break so I took a pull.  He said thanks later when I tired…the wind was strong down there and were movin along at a really strong clip in to it.

  5. Unknown

    There a lot of dynamics to the pace line, such as in a race to either chase down the break or slow the chase. In a group training or club ride, i myself like to pull longer on the flats and take shorter pulls on the steep hills. Gravity gets me down, as I am an official fat bastard these days. But the cardinal rule is DON\’T OVERLAP!!! Also, dont surge, do keep your head up, a please swing out abit to spit. The thing I hate is when Joe Blow know it all acts as the pace line cop. I alway try to get away from the bunch when that clown starts shouting orders. Shut up and ride.

  6. Unknown

    Yabbut what if there\’s just two of you? It seemed like in the group we were riding there was no paceline, just the same guys up front, but I often find myself with one other rider?
    Pull off or pass?

  7. Zed

    If there are two of you, communicate. Whoever knows the course should talk it over with the other one before you really get going–let him know what the resistance will be like (predicted headwinds, hills, and traffic) and then decide on an estimated speed to stick to. Organized groups peel off–less-organized groups involve passing. When you find you can hold the speed, peel off and let your buddy take the front and vice versa. You should be riding a couple of mph faster together than you do alone.
    If you find yourself getting separations on your pull, ease up a little and keep the front longer. Try to sit up when it\’s your pull so you actually take the wind off your riding buddy.
    If you\’re the weaker in the bunch, tell the other guy you\’re worried about keeping up. It\’s true that a ride can be no fun if the other guy is always stuck to your wheel, but I think most people understand when someone\’s just having a bad day.

  8. Tom Stormcrowe

    Hmmm, when I ride in a paceline, most of the time people LIKE to have me be the windbreak. Most of the time, that is! You have to remember, I had modifications to my digestive tract. Occasionally, after certain foods, if I am on the head end of the paceline, you want to be in a Racal suit if you ride behind me. I give new meaning to the term "Breaking the wind"!

  9. Unknown

    Even if the people in front are stronger and could handle it for all the fifty miles I still take a turn up front whether they peel off or not. I was feeling guilty after so many miles so I would just surge past \’em and give some relief from the wind since I\’m a big guy. And when I was good and ready or when I tired I would peel off and let it start all over again.
    I think they figured I would drop \’cuz I was out of my league, uhn uhn! I was there! One time I even elicited the response, "you\’re still there." Sometimes I need a little time to recover, but then I can surge and catch their back wheel again. So then when I took my turn it was, "way to go Bob!"
    Hooked on phonics worked for me!

  10. Jose

    I think that the golden rule in mountaing biking is, "if you fear it, don\’t try it". I don\’t care if it is not honorable, but I don\’t believe in the DDD if I am not sure of what I\’m going to do. That does not mean that you won\’t fall. There are two kind of mountain bikers, those who have fallen and those who will fall.

  11. Unknown

    Jose, you chose one of the two honorable ways of getting out of the DDD: Admit that you aren\’t about to try the move under any circumstances. Personally, I prefer to come up with an obviously rediculous excuse that says "I\’m a coward" like "Yeah, normally I\’d do a backflip off the ledge and land on my front wheel and do a nose wheely down the next drop, but I\’m scheduled to be a model for GQ magazine Tuesday, and I don\’t want to get scraped up."
    Bob, my problem saturday was that me and this other guy took a wrong turn and were hammering to catch the rest of the group. I took a turn, but then later, I couldn\’t pass the guy I was drafting off of, and he didn\’t pull off. Twice I surged, got into the wind, pulled up along side, and then weakened.

  12. Unknown

    I saw a blurb about it, but the article you link has more info.
    I think (and I\’m totally guessing here) that what the document "clearing" Armstrong of doping is going to say is that it is impossible to demostrate who had access to those samples during the 6 years between when they were submitted and when they were tested and therefore one cannot prove that 1) they are Armstrong\’s original samples, and 2) that they were not tampered with.  Therefore it is impossible to link Armstrong to EPO use, whether or not the samples tested postitive for EPO. Further, since the labs that tested the samples broke all sorts of internal procedures, including the giving the results to the press, etc, the UCI/WADA couldn\’t act on any test results because the prcedures followed wouldn\’t hold up to legal scrutiny.
    I don\’t doubt that the samples tested postive for EPO, but it would literally take me 30 seconds to either replace the sample or contaminate the sample with EPO.
    It is also likely that Armstrong was using EPO, and if so, it is UCI/WADA\’s fault they didn\’t catch him. They could have followed leagal procedures to demonstrate constant "chain of custody", but didn\’t and so the opportunity is lost.
    P.S. Thanks for the link Tim

  13. Tim D

    What\’s also going to happen is because Vrijman released details before all parties had been informed, and because it seems to criticise WADA, WADA will rubbish th report, the UCI will rubbish WADA for rubbishing the report, they will both rubbish Mr Vrijman and in the end all blame some lowly lab tech at the French testing lab will get the blame.  Dick Pound and L\’equippe will both claim the report proves Armstrong took EPO, and demand the UCI do something.  Armstrong will sue L\’Equippe.  No-one will be any the wiser

  14. Unknown

    Which only re-enforces my decision to become a lawyer. Truely, they are the only ones who ever win in these things.

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