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  1. #1
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    Skill or Endurance

    If you had to choose, which would you rather have, skill or endurance?

    I'm in the skill camp. Every rider I have been impressed with has been due to their skill and not their ability to push a big ring. I also recognize that skill takes time where endurance is more a function of one's ability to suffer and comes more quickly. I also find it strange that every mountain biker that I know that "trains," solely focuses on endurance.

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    Without skill you won't have much endurance....

    Without endurance you won't have much skill...

    Pushing I big ring is neither.

  3. #3
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    Skill doesn't do you any good if you don't have the endurance to get there, if you are fried....skill might not do you any good. Think HAB

    Endurance doesn't do you any good if you don't have the skills to get you there. Think dirt roadies in techy trails.
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  4. #4
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    I have ridden with both types - and I think I have a fair amount of skill.
    I find that I can outride some of those endurance guys just by virtue of efficiency. Lately, though, I have been the one running out of gas on a day trip.
    The endurance rider with no skill bashes and grunts their way along. They waste an amazing amount of energy, but they have that energy in spades. Although, a LOT of times that rider has leg endurance but not full body endurance and ends up face planting in a rock garden and shattering their orbital structures along with half their helmet.

    To answer the question, I am always pursuing skilz, but only "train" when time allows. Most often my endurance is not the product of focused training, but just a byproduct of normal activity levels, which vary dramatically.

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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by jeffscott View Post
    Without skill you won't have much endurance....

    Without endurance you won't have much skill...
    I'm not even sure that means anything?!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Pig View Post
    I'm not even sure that means anything?!
    You havn't done much riding?

    If you are a dolt on a bike and thrash it around you are not gonna make a 80 km MTB ride even if you are fit.

    If you can only ride up 500 vertical feet of hill before you drop, you are not gonna develop alot of skills.

  7. #7
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    Re: Skill or Endurance

    I work on skill progression on every ride, without exception. Always improving balance, hops, manuals, cornering, etc. Cleaning difficult trails, riding over large boulders, step ups to skinnies, jumping or pumping every contour... these are the aspects that I care about. No training. Endurance is a byproduct of riding a lot.

    You'll never catch me in a 6/12/24 hour race. The exhilaration of of riding all out on a great piece of singletrack, or the satisfaction of cleaning a difficult obstacle, simply don't exist in that format(at least where I live). If I have enough in the tank after a big loop to consider a second lap, then I should've shredded the first one harder.

    Endurance riding is fitness biking, which I consider as pseudo mountain biking. It is but a sliver of what mountain biking can be. From my perspective anyway. YMMV.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by jeffscott View Post
    You havn't done much riding? If you are a dolt on a bike and thrash it around you are not gonna make a 80 km MTB ride even if you are fit. If you can only ride up 500 vertical feet of hill before you drop, you are not gonna develop alot of skills.
    This, you have to have a modicum of endurance in order to spend the amount of time it takes to build skill, they go hand in hand.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by AllMountin' View Post
    I work on skill progression on every ride, without exception. Always improving balance, hops, manuals, cornering, etc. Cleaning difficult trails, riding over large boulders, step ups to skinnies, jumping or pumping every contour... these are the aspects that I care about. No training. Endurance is a byproduct of riding a lot.

    You'll never catch me in a 6/12/24 hour race. The exhilaration of of riding all out on a great piece of singletrack, or the satisfaction of cleaning a difficult obstacle, simply don't exist in that format(at least where I live). If I have enough in the tank after a big loop to consider a second lap, then I should've shredded the first one harder.

    Endurance riding is fitness biking, which I consider as pseudo mountain biking. It is but a sliver of what mountain biking can be. From my perspective anyway. YMMV.
    I'm in the same headspace as you. I'm most proud when I do something on a trail that others never contemplated was possible or had the cojones to attempt.

  10. #10
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    Yin and yang. One compliments the other.





    Yeah I don't know what that's supposed to mean either. It just depends on what kind of trail you prefer, doesn't it? Fireroad vs singletrack, or a mixture of both?

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by jeffscott View Post
    You havn't done much riding?

    If you are a dolt on a bike and thrash it around you are not gonna make a 80 km MTB ride even if you are fit.

    If you can only ride up 500 vertical feet of hill before you drop, you are not gonna develop alot of skills.
    I guessed right that you were Canadian when you used km in one sentence and feet in the next.

    BTW - I agree, 1 feeds the other.

    If I answer the OP in a less "all or nothing" response, I would say that I'd rather ride 5 miles of rocky technical single-track requiring lots of skill than 20 miles of uphill double-track requiring lots of endurance. So, if that is how you meant it, my "vote" leans toward skill.

  12. #12
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    Lucky me, I have both good techie skills and endurance. One thing I don't have is speed!

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    Re: Skill or Endurance

    Quote Originally Posted by jeffscott View Post
    Without skill you won't have much endurance....

    Without endurance you won't have much skill...

    Pushing I big ring is neither.
    This.

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    I have a bit of both, therefore I have skildurnace.

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    I can't say I've ever gone "man, I wish I had the fitness to do a 100 mile race" or "it would be pretty awesome if I could crush my riding buddies on the climbs", but every time I see a I go "damnit, why can't I do that?" If the biking gods gave the choice between being able to podium in every 100 mile race I entered or having all the riding skills of Wade Simmons, I'll take Wade Simmons riding skills every single time, no question.

  16. #16
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    Both. :-D Catching people during a descent in the back half of a 50-mile race was a rather smug moment for me.

    I'm lucky enough to live a quick, easy ride from awesome trails. I moved here about a year and a half ago, along with getting married, finishing my degree, and starting a full-time job. Now I can go mountain biking a few times a week. So I do. I was doing some road training during the week before. I'm not doing much of that lately - I could be mountain biking! So in the last year especially, I've gotten both faster and cleaner. Not as sure about endurance, though I've done some rides over four hours this season, including in competition, so I'm feeling pretty well prepared to do 50 miles this weekend.

    Skill matters to me or I'd just ride the road. But there's something really compelling to me about getting to the tops of things fast. Particularly if it's via singletrack that has some challenge for me. So I'm glad I don't have to choose.

    And it doesn't hurt that there are flow trails to take back to the bottom. :-D
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    I don't know why this is really a question.. There is never a situation where you can have one and not the availability for the other.. If you have neither you should be looking for both. If you have endurance, you should be experienced enough to gain skill... And if you have skills, but no endurance... How the hell did that happen? You were born in a blessed rock garden?

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    Well where I ride, there are logs you have to ride, drops, 2' piles to jump, some jumps, etc.. So if you've got endurance but no skills you're not going anywhere fast. If you've got skills your strava times will reflect that.

    Ok my post should be under your haha

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  19. #19
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    Although I hear a lot of "you need to have both," most mountain bikers only work on their endurance. How many skill development rides have you seen organized? The odd thing is that skill takes a lot more time to develop than endurance, yet most group rides are about speed. It's the same reason why I find strava to be so shallow since it distills mountain biking down to one facet, speed. I'm still astonished to see how few mountain bikers can wheelie, manual, hop anything higher than a curb, ride a log, etc.

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    Endurance is soooo much easier to develop than skill...people can have all the endurance in the world and not even be able to ride a bike. You can build endurance on a treadmill in your living room, but you're not going to learn how to do a decent X-up that way.
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  21. #21
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    Gotta have both skill and endurance !! Plus it helps if you're in the "zen" mode , not felling it mentally kinda ruins the fun for both skills and endurance !
    Hit the trails with your bike and get freaky.

  22. #22
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    I enjoy a good workout, but I love cleaning technical sections - especially sections that gave me trouble previously. I like the feeling that comes from greater endurance, but I love the feeling that comes from greater "one-ness" with my bike and the trail features. No question, skill is where I get the most satisfaction.

  23. #23
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    endurance.

    I will hop off and run everything I can't ride, and ride everyone into the ground*


    *-if- i have that endurance

  24. #24
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    I have the endurance. I'd like to get the skills. I'm not a terrible mountain biker in terms of skill but there is always room to improve. It's harder to put together a step by step plan to improve skills compared to improving fitness. And its hard to put aside the fast fun stuff and suffer at improving skills even when you realize that doing so would result in improved performance even in something like a 24 hour race.
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  25. #25
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    Endurance

    Quote Originally Posted by Overhillthruthewoods View Post
    If you had to choose, which would you rather have, skill or endurance? I'm in the skill camp. Every rider I have been impressed with has been due to their skill and not their ability to push a big ring. I also recognize that skill takes time where endurance is more a function of one's ability to suffer and comes more quickly. I also find it strange that every mountain biker that I know that "trains," solely focuses on endurance.
    Depends on your riding preferences. I like to ride all day so endurance is preferred. I do not train, nor do I push a big ring. And I don't need to impress anyone

  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by Overhillthruthewoods View Post
    If you had to choose, which would you rather have, skill or endurance?

    I'm in the skill camp. Every rider I have been impressed with has been due to their skill and not their ability to push a big ring. I also recognize that skill takes time where endurance is more a function of one's ability to suffer and comes more quickly. I also find it strange that every mountain biker that I know that "trains," solely focuses on endurance.

    I find that skills for a lot of riders tend to be more of a natural thing....they get on a bike and the skills to handle it take little to no effort.

    Where as endurance is something that most have to train for....or at least it builds up over time.
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  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by ou2mame View Post
    I don't know why this is really a question.. There is never a situation where you can have one and not the availability for the other.. If you have neither you should be looking for both. If you have endurance, you should be experienced enough to gain skill... And if you have skills, but no endurance... How the hell did that happen? You were born in a blessed rock garden?

    Sent from my 831C using Tapatalk
    I had skills and a lot of confidence on descents/rock gardens/jumps/drops before I ever had a drop of endurance. I attribute it to growing up racing BMX on a national level and dirt jumping. I've felt confident with a bike under me on all sorts of obstacles since I was bout 10.

    It took me a while to get my skills up to par while climbing though. And finally this year after being back into MTB for about 5 years I feel as though I have decent endurance on long rides and power when climbing or charging flats.
    All good things in all good time

  28. #28
    No. Just No.
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    I have a major in fitness/endurance, and a minor in skills. My current skills allow me to navigate around the trails here in B.C. fairly efficiently, but I have no desire to pursue a path toward big air or higher risk technical features (although for those leaning in this direction all the more power to them). I would like to improve both, and spend some time on both, but my priority is on fitness and I'm happy in that place.

    Improving either takes time and effort. Neither is "easy" otherwise everyone would be uber fit, and have skills up their yin yang.

    I do think it's odd to put down other riders and their riding preferences though. Ride for fitness, ride for skills, ride for both, ride XC, DH, FR, AM, Trail, Trials, BMX, Street, CX, Road, Track, etc. Anyone getting out for any of these is great in my books.
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  29. #29
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    Well it's BS to choose one or the other. They have to compliment each other or you are not going to enjoy mountain biking. What fun is it to be so blown up that you can't enjoy the trail? Super fit but can't corner or go down a steep descent? You need at least a bit of each before you are really going to enjoy it unless your trails are flat and straight. But then, what's the point? Every ride works on my endurance and practices my skills. Even at 56 I still improve things and am a much better rider than I was 15 years ago. My climbing times have also improved over the last year simply by riding more.
    I got some bad ideas in my head.

  30. #30
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    Skill.
    I have skill already and I still have a great time.
    If I had way more endurance than skill and I crashed all the time on the mountain, I would be a roadie.
    I do have to improve my endurance, however.

  31. #31
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    I don't have much of either at the moment. I used to have tons of endurance in my roadie days, but 60 lbs later it's not as easy to lay down some miles. I know the more I ride the more my endurance improves, its my skills that have stagnated. I ride the same few trails every time I try, and although I can always strive to take that corner faster, or finally do that drop, I chicken out because I don't know how to formally train (and the consequences for failure are much more painful than a lack of endurance). I've been planning on using my car ramps in my apartment lawn to practice taking drops at speed and getting used to being airborne, but fear of looking silly (a grown man playing on his bike) has kept me from it.

  32. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by falconpunch79 View Post
    I don't have much of either at the moment. I used to have tons of endurance in my roadie days, but 60 lbs later it's not as easy to lay down some miles. I know the more I ride the more my endurance improves, its my skills that have stagnated. I ride the same few trails every time I try, and although I can always strive to take that corner faster, or finally do that drop, I chicken out because I don't know how to formally train (and the consequences for failure are much more painful than a lack of endurance). I've been planning on using my car ramps in my apartment lawn to practice taking drops at speed and getting used to being airborne, but fear of looking silly (a grown man playing on his bike) has kept me from it.
    Bikes are for people of all ages.
    I used to not like jumping. But with time came confidence, and now I found a technique to jump, roll through rocks, ride over skinnies, etc. It all takes time and practice.

  33. #33
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    I've found that the quickest way to improve skill is on street/urban assault rides. There are plenty of concrete objects in shopping centers, schools, office centers, etc. to hone your skills. Practice skinnies by riding raised curbs, practice drops on squared off edges, wheelie between areas, jump off stair cases, and so on... I take pride in being a middle aged man practicing tricks on a bike. I get requests by people all the time to repeat some "trick" they saw me do.

  34. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by falconpunch79 View Post
    but fear of looking silly (a grown man playing on his bike) has kept me from it.

    Too late. In North America most people think any adult on a bike looks either silly or has no license. You may as well practice.
    I got some bad ideas in my head.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ou2mame View Post
    There is never a situation where you can have one and not the availability for the other.. If you have neither you should be looking for both. If you have endurance, you should be experienced enough to gain skill
    I have certainly been gaining endurance over the years, but my skill level plateaued long ago at the point where aerial abilities are required. Still struggling with those.

  36. #36
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    You certainly need both. At the end of a long ride, if you are out of energy your skills will deteriorate. Skills let you waste less energy and clear techy situations.
    I think many people focus on endurance because it doesn' t involve crashing. Working on your skills means you will crash,often.
    I really enjoy working on bike handling but sometimes I don't wanna risk crashing.

  37. #37
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    Skill or Endurance

    Quote Originally Posted by Overhillthruthewoods View Post
    I'm still astonished to see how few mountain bikers can wheelie, manual, hop anything higher than a curb, ride a log, etc.
    I am confused by this too!! A long standing debate with my riding group. I will take skills any day of the week. Anyone with the mental will power can train harder to gain endurance. It takes a separate mind set and determination to learn new skills. Mainly accepting you are going to crash while trying new things.

    Most of my riding buddy's can pedal till the sun goes down without a care, but not two of us. We keep up for the most part except +15 mile rides. Our longest trails top out around 20miles so it's usually irrelevant. The other guys ride road to stay in shape. We don't and won't. To us it doesn't present much of a challenge in the skills department. So we make up for the lack of endurance with skills. We are typically waiting on them after most of the technical sections, rocky climbs, rock gardens or drops, log crossings where they have to dismount and walk. That make up the time last not pedaling like crazy nonstop. We also wind up separated from them when we ride new sections of trails that are more technical that challenge our skills. We will re ride a short section until we figure it out, usually eat **** but also learn may learn a new skill. They continue on after one failed try so they don't screw up their pace, heart rate.

    Anyone can ride a bike but theirs a clear difference in those that can ride the piss out of one and be in control. I don't care how far you can pedal. If you are off and walking when it gets hard your not really riding.
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  38. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by 2obscura View Post
    I am confused by this too!! A long standing debate with my riding group. I will take skills any day of the week. Anyone with the mental will power can train harder to gain endurance. It takes a separate mind set and determination to learn new skills. Mainly accepting you are going to crash while trying new things.

    Most of my riding buddy's can pedal till the sun goes down without a care, but not two of us. We keep up for the most part except +15 mile rides. Our longest trails top out around 20miles so it's usually irrelevant. The other guys ride road to stay in shape. We don't and won't. To us it doesn't present much of a challenge in the skills department. So we make up for the lack of endurance with skills. We are typically waiting on them after most of the technical sections, rocky climbs, rock gardens or drops, log crossings where they have to dismount and walk. That make up the time last not pedaling like crazy nonstop. We also wind up separated from them when we ride new sections of trails that are more technical that challenge our skills. We will re ride a short section until we figure it out, usually eat **** but also learn may learn a new skill. They continue on after one failed try so they don't screw up their pace, heart rate.

    Anyone can ride a bike but theirs a clear difference in those that can ride the piss out of one and be in control. I don't care how far you can pedal. If you are off and walking when it gets hard your not really riding.
    As I said, people with great endurance are roadies, or XC racers.
    People with skills are real mountain bikers.
    However, if I had more endurance I could climb almost any technical section.
    It's raining here and I can't go riding, so I can't improve my Endurance or Skill right now.

  39. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by 2obscura View Post
    Anyone can ride a bike but theirs a clear difference in those that can ride the piss out of one and be in control. I don't care how far you can pedal. If you are off and walking when it gets hard your not really riding.
    In a nutshell.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CannondaleF9 View Post
    As I said, people with great endurance are roadies, or XC racers. People with skills are real mountain bikers. However, if I had more endurance I could climb almost any technical section. It's raining here and I can't go riding, so I can't improve my Endurance or Skill right now.
    That is a very myopic view and probably is rooted in a lack of both skill and endurance.

  41. #41
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    While building endurance on trails your skillz will naturally improve. B!tch running some obstacle 20x's probably won't improve your endurance much but you'll be able to clear that XXX .5 miles from the car!
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    Both is killer combination. I prefer Skill + 70% Strength + 30% Endurance

  43. #43
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    This is possibly one of the most pointless threads I've seen in ages and just goes to prove that if you put enough terminally bored blokes on the internet for long enough they will talk endless crap about just about anything!

    I mean really guys, who gives a ****?

    Let's move on to the next big issue for discussion, which do you like the best, your right leg or your left?

  44. #44
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    I hate pants.
    Gone are the days we stopped to decide,
    Where we should go,
    We just ride...

  45. #45
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    Quote Originally Posted by jugdish View Post
    I hate pants.
    Are you American? Pants have a whole different meaning over here...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Pig View Post
    This is possibly one of the most pointless threads I've seen in ages and just goes to prove that if you put enough terminally bored blokes on the internet for long enough they will talk endless crap about just about anything!

    I mean really guys, who gives a ****?

    Let's move on to the next big issue for discussion, which do you like the best, your right leg or your left?
    I used to like my right leg best cause I really broke my left leg badly many years ago...

    But two years ago I sprained my ACL on the right leg and this year I had a full ACL repair on the left leg...

    So right now I like my left leg better.

  47. #47
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    Quote Originally Posted by CannondaleF9 View Post
    As I said, people with great endurance are roadies, or XC racers.
    People with skills are real mountain bikers.

    However, if I had more endurance I could climb almost any technical section.
    It's raining here and I can't go riding, so I can't improve my Endurance or Skill right now.
    So XC racers arent "real" mountain bikers....
    Put a mountain biker in a room with 2 bowling balls and we'll break one and lose the other - GelatiCruiser

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    Most of roadies i know only know to pedal to the metal. No skill, just endurance. Same applies to Cross Country riders. If we talk on general basis 90% of roadies has no skill and 70% of Cross Country riders have lack of skill. I mean seriously, look at YT videos - folks fall over any jump... Just my 5 cents tho.

  49. #49
    Fat-tired Roadie Moderator
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    Re: Skill or Endurance

    Quote Originally Posted by CannondaleF9 View Post
    As I said, people with great endurance are roadies, or XC racers.
    People with skills are real mountain bikers.
    However, if I had more endurance I could climb almost any technical section.
    It's raining here and I can't go riding, so I can't improve my Endurance or Skill right now.
    This thread gets more awesome every day.

    So what do you skills guys do when some guy flows down a gnarly descent past you in lycra and on a short-travel rig?
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  50. #50
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    Quote Originally Posted by AndrwSwitch View Post
    This thread gets more awesome every day.

    So what do you skills guys do when some guy flows down a gnarly descent past you in lycra and on a short-travel rig?
    I'm the guy on the short travel rig. If a racerboy flew past me I'd just wait and watch for something catastrophic to happen. If a guy on a serious full suspension bike wearing body armour flew past me, I'd wait and watch for something awesome to happen.
    Quote Originally Posted by SandSpur View Post
    So XC racers arent "real" mountain bikers....
    XC racers are weight weenies and have great endurance, that means a mountain version of a road bike, so in theory, they are both mountain and non mountain bikers.

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