Fall Moab is all about rituals. It starts with the insulting email exchanges we send each other to plan for the event. When Dug gives the final word, the date is set, and Rick gives Kenny an action item to create a poster. (This year's poster is a takeoff on a Mormon movie called Passage to Zarahemla. I guess you have to live in Utah.) The whole thing is very organized. When we return from Fall Moab, Fatty writes a summary for his blog, and I give out awards based on movie quotes. The Fall Moab 2007 movie quotes come from The 40 Year Old Virgin, which is appropriate for three reasons: (1) we quoted from the movie several times during the trip, (2) the movie has an interesting clash between innocence and experience, which is appropriate for our group, and (3) I've never seen Passage to Zarahemla.
Cal: "Oh, man, I had a weekend."
The first award goes to the whole group. In the movie, Cal goes down to Mexico to see a horse show that, um, fails to be uplifting. We fared better. Eleven of us drove down to St. George on Friday morning, set up camp near the Gooseberry Mesa trailhead, and did three rides: Gooseberry on Friday afternoon, Little Creek on Saturday, and a different part of Gooseberry on Sunday morning. Here's how good the weekend was -- the bike riding in that part of Utah is spectacular, and I’m not sure whether biking was more fun than camping.
By the way, we went on three long rides in three days, and didn't take a shower. By day 3, I couldn't even run my fingers through my hair. Amazingly, none of us smelled bad. Isn't that interesting!
David: "Did you just flick me in the balls?"
Cal: "No. I flicked you in the fleshy patch where your balls used to be."
This award goes to . . . Kenny, who rode tentatively most of the weekend. I suppose he could use the excuse that he was still recovering from the hip he broke a couple of months ago, and that he flashed all the crux moves anyway, but I expected a little more aggression from him. Kenny, here’s a flick in your fleshy patch. Flick.
Did you happen to notice that Kenny was wearing a sissy helmet? Flick.
Andy Stitzer: "I think I've got all the advice I can handle, thank you."
For this one, we're giving out a special Lifetime Achievement Award to ... Rick. The five greatest mountain bike rides in Southern Utah – Gold Bar Rim, Gooseberry Mesa, Reverse Porcupine, Slickrock, and Little Creek – all have one thing in common: at least one crux move where most riders take turns trying to make it up and over. The guys who flash it set their bikes down at the top, take their place in the victor's circle, and shout encouragement to the other cyclists. Except Rick. He shouts advice. And it's not even useful advice. If he said something like "You're shifting your weight too soon" or "Think 'cold fury'," that would be one thing. But his advice is "Begin with the end in mind" or "Try not to fall down, Chico." I've got all the advice I can handle, Ricky, thank you.
In an odd reversal, here's a video of Rick asking me for advice while trying to ride over a string of boulders. I was stunned.
David: "You know how I know you're gay?"
Cal: "How? How do you know I'm gay?"
David: "Because you macramed yourself a pair of jean shorts."
This goes to all the riders who took Ambien because they have a difficult time sleeping when camping. Pfff. Real men take melatonin.
Andy Stitzer: "Einstein rode a bike!"
Trish: "He had a wife."
This award goes to ... our wives who graciously watched the kids while we were out of town. Hang in there, Susan.
Waxing Lady: "So this is your first time getting body wax?"
This award goes to ... Brad.
As I mentioned, the trip was a little different this time because we camped. We built a huge bonfire, circled our chairs around it, and told stories while eating beer-soaked brats. After chopping wood, spitting, and peeing on juniper bushes, we weren’t in the mood for chatting about mutual funds or elementary schools. We wanted raunchy stories.
By the time Brad had drunk enough alcohol to declare that he wasn’t drunk, he claimed his new favorite activity was having his balls waxed, and he went into horrifying detail that is not only inappropriate for this blog, but inappropriate for eleven grown men scratching themselves around a campfire. (The next morning he claimed that he was making the whole thing up. Whatever.)
While eating dinner in a Mexican restaurant the following day, something odd happened. The restaurant was crowded, and there was a group of men and women sitting at the table next to us. At our table, several conversations were going on simultaneously. Just as we all stopped talking at the same time, someone at the next table said in a loud voice, “This is going to sound crazy, but one time a girlfriend waxed my balls!” Half of us stared in disbelief while the other half burst out laughing.
Is ball waxing really that popular? Never mind, don't answer that.
David: "You're a whore."
Amy: "I am not a whore! I just didn't like you!"
David: "Hah, this is so us."
The award for best gag in the movie goes to … Rick, who pulled off the best gag of the weekend. When the server in the aforementioned Mexican restaurant brought our food, she asked Rick to pass the plate down. Rick asked her if the plate was hot, which is a good question in a Mexican restaurant, and she said no. As soon as he took the plate, he yelled "OUCH!!" The look on her face just before she burst out laughing was priceless. She was a good sport.
David: "I'm gonna kick you in the nuts, asshole."
Haziz: "Hey, hey, hey hey hey, watch the language, ok? I have a family."
This goes to ... Steve, a first-timer to Fall Moab. Steve is Paul's brother, he was my roommate in college, and he lives in Dug's neighborhood. Steve is a straight-laced conservative guy with a good sense of humor, but I'm afraid he heard some thing he'd like to un-hear.
Andy: "I think my first time might be your best time too."
I love this line. This award goes to ... my new singlespeed bike. Fatty currently owns my singlespeed on paper, but I can tell he wasn't treating it right, so it'll be mine soon.
When people were telling me about singlespeeds, I never understood the attraction. I get it now. As much as I love my full-suspension Mountain Bicycling System™, it's dead to me. I probably shouldn't be saying this because I still need to negotiate the price with Fatty.
Paul had a similar experience with a singlespeed. Over the last several years, the only time he rides his mountain bike is with us during Fall Moab. For this year's event, he bought a singlespeed and loved it so much that he's actually going to start riding again.
Here's the thing. Riding a singlespeed isn't about being more macho: "Hey, look at me! I'm only riding one gear! And I have broken glass in my shoes!" It's about simplicity. It's about power. It's about stealth. That's right. A singlespeed lets you ride sneakily. That's the best I can do to explain it. If you doubt me, you'll just have to try it.
David: "You know how I know you're gay?"
David: "You like Coldplay."
The best line of the movie goes to the best crux move of the weekend… the Little Creek gulley. There are two ways up the ledge. There’s a rock pile up the middle or a narrow, rocky trail around the right side in which you have to make the turn by climbing over a root while dodging an overhang. Once you get up on the ledge, you have to climb a deceptively long pile of rocks through a narrow opening up the left side. So far, no one has come close to riding a singlespeed up the middle rock pile (Dan tries it in the video below), and you have to hit it perfectly to make it up on a geared bike. While we were trying to ride up the crux move, Gary and Paul tried to rock climb up an inverted wall. Everyone else sat around cheering and cajoling. Good times.
David: "I gotta tell you something. I'm really excited about it. Uh, for the first time, today, I woke up, I came to the store, and I feel confident to say to you that if you don't take this Michael McDonald DVD -- that you've been playing for two years straight -- off, I'm going to kill everyone in the store and put a bullet in my brain!"
This goes to Fatty, who took my iPod and cranked an obscure playlist I have called “Cheese Rock,” which includes music that I listened to as a teenager. He could have picked one of the more contemporary bands I have, like My Morning Jacket or The White Stripes or Arcade Fire, but no. He announced to everyone that we’d be getting a sampling of my music, and cranked it up. Boston, Journey, Kansas, and 38 Special could be heard all over Gooseberry Mesa. You know you're humiliated when people are asking why Styx isn't on your playlist. I suppose I should hold on loosely to this grand illusion, because all we are is dust in the wind. Thanks Fatty. You're a man I'll never be.
Cal: "Is that the Six Million Dollar Man's boss?"
Andy Stitzer: "That's Oscar Goldman."
This line goes to ... Dug. I don't need a reason. Enjoy!
Andy Stitzer: "You know what? I respect women! I love women! I respect them so much that I completely stay away from them!"
This award goes to the group of storytellers -- especially Gary, Cori, Rick, and Kenny -- who all managed to tell hilarious stories with an undercurrent of sad truthfulness. Of course, anything I write here can't match the time-honored tradition of campfire storytelling. I can only offer a glimpse.
One of the interesting things about this group is that all eleven of us were Mormon missionaries. Some guys are no longer involved in the church and were passing around a bottle of whiskey or tequila. Some guys were chatting about their church callings. A couple guys were doing a little bit of both, or neither. We told stories for hours on both nights, but there was one stretch that was particularly memorable. We got on the subject of how common it is for people to claim that God wanted them to marry someone. I better not name names.
Story 1 - One guy told a story about a friend of his. When the friend was near the end of his mission, a woman claimed that God revealed to her that he would marry her daughter. The daughter was not attractive by anyone's standards. The fact that the mother died the following day of a heart attack shook up the missionary. When he got home, his dreams haunted him for a few weeks, so he went back to the mission area and married the girl. The storyteller then did an impersonation of how his married friend acted when he visited him: "Yeah, work is okay [turning and shouting] -- Martha! -- [turning back] work is good, you know, I'm just livin' the dream [turning again] -- MARTHA!! KEEP THEM QUIET IN THERE! [turning back] How about you?"
Story 2 - A Sicilian woman was married to a mob guy, which isn't as crazy as it sounds in Palermo. When the storyteller was teaching her about the Mormon church, she wanted to break up with her sinning husband and get baptized. She also happened to fall in love with the missionary and tried to seduce him. [Several juicy details omitted.] The mafioso wasn't too happy about the situation. Church officials intervened and sent the storyteller to a different area and warned several people to be extra careful, including the missionary's girlfriend back in the states. The storyteller still gets letters from the woman more than 20 years later.
Story 3 - Someone's overbearing father was a religious extremist. Surprise! He turned out to have an ugly secret.
Story 4 - A 30-ish woman fell in love with one of the guys when he was only 15. She kept inviting him over to her house and confided in him that she had a revelation -- her husband would die in a plane crash. Her family moved away, and a couple years later, her husband ... died in a plane crash. She used part of her lucrative settlement money to move back to the area and buy a home near the storyteller's. The woman stepped up her advances and bought the kind of car that he really liked. They started dating. One night, the woman snuck into the boy's basement bedroom and climbed in bed with him. Later that night, the phone rang. Her five-year-old daughter was calling the house in a panic, telling the storyteller's parents that her mother was gone. The story kept going...
Andy Stitzer: "Do you ever notice how... like, in a relationship... one person's always like "blal blah blal blah" and the other person's like "What are you talkin about?" and one person's like "blah blah blalablah...?"
Cal: "How much have you had to drink, man?"
This award goes to two guys who couldn't make the trip . . . Tom and Rich. They're lifelong buddies who constantly bicker with each other, kind of like Artoo and C3PO, only meaner.
Jay: "Nastiest shit you've ever done? I'm talkin' about nasty!"
Andy Stitzer: "Ah... wow! Soooo many stories are running through my head right now. I dated this girl for a while... she was really a... nasty freak. She just loved to... get down with... sex all the time. It was like... anytime of day... she was like, 'Yeah, let's go! I'm so nasty!'"
This solid quote goes to the most solid move on Gooseberry ... Sidewinder. You have to scramble up a couple of switchbacks. After the last turn, there's a steep 15-foot rock that you have to climb to make it to the top. In granny gear, this isn't much of a problem (even though you look totally ridiculous spinning your pedals that fast), but on a singlespeed, it's devilishly tricky, as a British announcer would say.
[There is no video of Sidewinder because Fatty is holding out and refuses to answer my emails.]
Mooj: "Life is about people. It's about connections."
Andy Stitzer: "It's all about connections."
Mooj: "It's not about c----, and a--, and t---."
Andy Stitzer: "Yeah."
Mooj: "And butt---- pleasures."
Andy Stitzer: "It's not about butt--- pleasures at all."
Mooj: "It's not about these rusty trombones, and these dirty Sanchez."
Andy Stitzer: "Please stop."
The most otherworldly dialogue goes to the most otherworldly section of trail ... Hidden Canyon on Gooseberry Mesa. The overhanging rocks makes it seem like you're riding through a cave. I wouldn't be surprised if bats flew out.
In conclusion, we had fun.