A Dirty Tumble, was a phrase I first heard uttered from my Pappy last summer while we were out banging around in an old gravel pit near the very small town I grew up in. I don’t know if he can claim credit or responsibility for the term himself or if was overhead somewhere in his youth. I’ll have to ask him I guess.
Pappy in his natural habitat:
Anyways, as he demonstrated the art of taking a dirty tumble for me, I noticed right off the bat that you had to start it out with a loss of control. Perhaps not big loss but enough for you to get say, like a good slow mo death wobble happening. About mid way through, or at least a split second before you know for certain that you are going to go down, you need to cry out. I have also through much research discovered that everyone is different in this respect. Some people let loose primitive, guttural cries of dismay. Some just repeat curse words, but generally just the same one over and over quite rapidly until the end. For this particular demonstration Pappy had decided to go with a rather quiet and more reserved : ‘oooOOOOooooohhhhh NooooOOooooooo’. It is this sort of thing, I think, that turns a simple everyday crash into ‘A Dirty Tumble’.
You see, you have to know it’s coming to have one. You almost have to decide if you want one. If you go down like an old woman carrying a bag of groceries on an icy sidewalk with no time to even spit out a single syllable expletive, it’s not a dirty tumble. If the only thing that you hear is the meaty thump of your body smacking into the frozen ground and the chuff of your breath leaving your lungs, it’s not a dirty tumble.
The official dirty tumble is usually one of those crashes that would have worked out better for you if you just went down. Right away. Like you were supposed to. To just cowboy up and take your medicine like a man instead of hopping down that steep downhill section of the trail on one leg with your other leg snarled up somehow in a chainring while trying to not bang your tender bits or face (never forget your face) on your bike or any other unforgiving obstacles (rocks come to mind) that may be along the trail…
There are a number of reasons to avoid the dirty tumble. The primary one I’m finding as I get older is it seems that I do more damage to myself and my immediate surroundings as I depart from the trail and wind up leaving a small destructive path of broken branches, plowed over saplings and scorched earth as I try to not crash. As soon as you think to yourself: ‘I can save this.’ You are knee deep in dirty tumble territory.
The thing I like about a dirty tumble is it can happen anywhere, anytime, to anyone, doing…. Well, anything really. So try to remember the next time that you slip in the kitchen, just go down on your ass so you don’t smack you head into the stove.
Keep the lube on your chain!