FEATURE — The theme of this the most recent issue of St. George Health & Wellness magazine, where this article originally appeared, is spring cleaning. Cleaning not just in the literal sense but “dejunking our lives.”
Mountain biking makes use of the word “cleaning” when used to describe the act of completing a tough obstacle. When a biker “cleans” a ledge, that means they didn’t have to stop or walk their bicycle through a rough part of the trail.
My earliest memory of the term (which was adapted to mountain bikes once they were invented) comes from motorcycle trials, a sport that runs cycles through very technical areas with the goal being to not put your foot down.
Each “dab” of a foot gives a point against you. The person with the least number of points wins. A run that has no dabs is considered clean. A cool saying can’t be held back, so “cleaning” soon expanded to other uses beyond the trials scene. Now it can be used on anything from a rocky descent that made you hesitate and walk to a long climb that made you blow up (and walk).
The geology of Washington County gives most of our trails sections of ledge-like or stair-step climbs. Imagine riding your bike up a staircase, only the stairs are unequally spaced. Add in the factor that you may have been putting out a big effort for several minutes before you hit the “stairs” and it’s not hard to see how you could mess these up, having to dab.
There’s no shame in it. It’s a technique that takes time to build, and don’t forget, even the pros dab sometimes. The problem is these types of obstacles require momentum to get over.
Sometimes you can kick off of your dab to push you forward and keep going, but mostly you stall out and stop. Unless you’re through the techy bit, getting started again can be very difficult. Most individuals will opt to get off and walk, but pushing a bike sucks when you could be riding it and is often more tiring than riding.
So cleaning a section can save energy and is much faster when you add in dismounting and remounting, but the biggest factor is mental. It’s very uplifting to realize you’ve just accomplished something that has stymied you for some time.
It’s funny how often mountain biking translates to a metaphor for life. Problems are unpredictable, and it’s up to you to figure out how to get up, over, down or around them.
Life is a technique that takes time to build. Even when you have to get off and walk, you get back on and try it again. Remember if you have to dab, you can push off and regain momentum.
Revel in the victory and relief of cleaning a problem. Mountain biking (and life) is good. Go out and try to clean something.
This article was first published in St. George Health & Wellness magazine and updated for current publication.
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