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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.

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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.

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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.

  20. #20
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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
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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.

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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.

  40. #40
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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?

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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.

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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....
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  48. #48
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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
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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?
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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.

  51. #51
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    So many misguided youth these days.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jeffscott View Post
    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.
    Interesting. I would have said that I like both equally, cosmetically there seems to be little difference, but I have noticed that when I step up onto something I always use my right leg first. Does this mean that I like or trust my right leg more? Or perhaps I value my left more so subconsciously choose to expose my right leg to danger first! It's a puzzle.

  53. #53
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    Quote Originally Posted by tiretracks View Post
    So many misguided youth these days.
    That's why they crash so often.

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    What if a "real mtn biker with skills" then decides to start racing XC? Does that mean he now has no skills all of a sudden? Jus' wondering.

    The ol adage still rings true I see.."how do you spot a mtb newb?..because he makes fun of other riders in Lycra". Typical.

    Carry on.
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  55. #55
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    Endurance? Pfft, I'd rather have POWER. Mountain biking is all about repeatedly going anaerobic and recovering. This is why people do squats to get better.
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

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    Quote Originally Posted by mtnbikej View Post
    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.
    I'd really like to know how that works, because it sure doesn't work that way for me.
    I'm a month into my latest attempt to learn to bunny-hop, and getting nowhere.



    So far, the choice has been made for me.

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    I want more Skillz

    Sorry didn't read the whole thread but to me;

    Endurance = riding a mountain bike, anyone can do it.
    Skills = going <b>Mountainbiking</b>, only mountain bikers need apply.

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    I pretty much only ride solo, working on new skills can be tenuous at times. Now that I have the endurance to ride at the same skill level at the 10th mile that I do at the 2nd mile I'm now slowly working on trying new things.

    Thursday I found a few skinnies that I could do, but then I couldn't do the ones with a bigger step up or ones that were multi-level. Later on I tried a 6' tall rock, stalled just as the back tire hit and nearly put myself in a really stupid situation on a trail I'd never been on before. My agility on a XL 29er can be a little lacking at times lol!

    Wish I'd gotten into this before.
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  59. #59
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    Quote Originally Posted by Duckman View Post
    What if a "real mtn biker with skills" then decides to start racing XC? Does that mean he now has no skills all of a sudden? Jus' wondering.

    The ol adage still rings true I see.."how do you spot a mtb newb?..because he makes fun of other riders in Lycra". Typical.

    Carry on.
    Then you have Nino Schurter. Endurance and Skills. Ultimate mountainbiker.

  60. #60
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    Strava doesn't give us segment average times but you can eyeball them pretty easily. If you do that you'll find the percentage time difference between the segment average rider and the KOM is larger for "endurance segments" than for "skill segments." I would interpret that to mean that if you have a race on a balanced skill/endurance course the endurance rider has an advantage because s/he can widen the gap more on an endurance segment that the skill rider can on the skill segment.

    Of course the endurance rider has to have enough skill not to crash out on the skill segments. And, in reality the folks that are KOM or near KOM on one type of segment are also KOM or near KOM on the other type of segment.

    In the end the rider who has the most fun wins independent of his or skill or endurance levels.

    Now back to the merits and inappropriateness of lycra...

  61. #61
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    Quote Originally Posted by borabora View Post

    Now back to the merits and inappropriateness of lycra...
    When temperatures soar into the 70s, I ditch the shorts and go with the cooler lycra. Also, it shows off the sculpted legs I've developed from carting my fat ass up hills (but not off drops, jumps or anything else, because I'm not a real mountain biker). Also I must add that lycra with holes, totally inappropriate...

  62. #62
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    Quote Originally Posted by andytiedye View Post
    I'd really like to know how that works, because it sure doesn't work that way for me.
    I'm a month into my latest attempt to learn to bunny-hop, and getting nowhere.



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  63. #63
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    Re: Skill or Endurance

    Quote Originally Posted by falconpunch79 View Post
    When temperatures soar into the 70s, I ditch the shorts and go with the cooler lycra. Also, it shows off the sculpted legs I've developed from carting my fat ass up hills (but not off drops, jumps or anything else, because I'm not a real mountain biker). Also I must add that lycra with holes, totally inappropriate...
    Semantics in this thread are starting to make my head hurt too.

    As far as I'm concerned, none of the segments in Strava are really long enough to be endurance segments. Though when you look at the whole ride one of our local pros was doing when he KOM'd something, it's often a few hours long and he was pretty much going fast the whole time. I've also noticed that it's the same guys in the first ten spots on both logging road climbs and flow descents. (And more old-school XC descents.)

    Funny thing is that what got me to go back and do some targeted skills practice was XC racing. I rode a lot of road when I lived in Manhattan. Not much access to MTB there, and what there is doesn't really compare to what I'd ridden in Santa Cruz. When I moved to Seattle and started pinning a number on, I could get up a fire road faster than other guys in Sport, but not necessarily keep my gap on a descent and technical climbing was my Kryptonite because it meant there was nothing for me to be better at. Flat to rolling singletrack wasn't great for me either, since losing a bunch of speed to negotiate every little thing meant accelerating a lot, and that's a ton of work.

    I'm having a pretty good season this year. A lot of that is mostly riding my mountain bike on trails. (If you want to say that's not mountain biking, I'm not sure what's left, but whatever.) I think it's making me a better-rounded rider. I'm still doing some long rides, both because I enjoy mountain biking so why not spend a few hours at it if I can, and because I was preparing for an endurance race I did today. Those are mostly on singletrack, because i can and because I think mountain biking is usually the best way to train for mountain biking (Go figure.) And, I'm doing some top end and medium-duration work. Finally, I've kept up with skills practice, mostly sessioning things that give me trouble. I think it's the blend, and doing most of it on singletrack, that's helping me get things to click this season.

    So yeah, "both."
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  64. #64
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    Quote Originally Posted by borabora View Post
    Now back to the merits and inappropriateness of lycra...
    I wear Lycra shorts most of the time. When cycling, obviously, I don't wear them to work. Very comfortable and I couldn't care less about what other people think.

    When you go to trail centres you see loads of guys with all the trendy clobber on, brand new mega full-suspension bikes, hydration packs and then you realise that they can't get up the hills! You can't buy ability in a bike shop and if you try to you just look like an idiot.

  65. #65
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    Skill or Endurance

    Quote Originally Posted by Jayem View Post
    Endurance? Pfft, I'd rather have POWER. Mountain biking is all about repeatedly going anaerobic and recovering. This is why people do squats to get better.
    Squats aren't going to do much to build sustainable power.


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    Skill or Endurance

    Quote Originally Posted by CannondaleF9 View Post
    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.


    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.
    Most people who race are going to lay the wood to you, uphill or down.

    I'm not sure why there is this misconception that Lycra = bad bike handling.


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  67. #67
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    Quote Originally Posted by Le Duke View Post
    I'm not sure why there is this misconception that Lycra = bad bike handling.
    There is?

    Maybe from the fact that roadies wear it so a guy on an MTB wearing it might be more likely to be a roadie gone native. And roadies might be less likely to have good off road skill?

  68. #68
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    Quote Originally Posted by Le Duke View Post
    Most people who race are going to lay the wood to you, uphill or down.

    I'm not sure why there is this misconception that Lycra = bad bike handling.

    Denial? Maybe some people can't handle the fact that some skinny dude sporting less than masculine clothing just laid down some serious whoop-@ss on them.

    Anyone who spends much time in the upper categories racing xc is going to be strong and fast, and you can't travel fast over rough terrain without possessing excellent bike handling skills.

  69. #69
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    Skill or Endurance

    Personal anecdote:

    Took KOM on a climb/descent loop near Lake Placid recently. 29er HT, Lycra. Rocks, roots, loose corners. ~26 minutes.

    I bought a SC Tallboy LTC frame recently. Had a guy in the SC sub forum tell me to get a 140mm fork for it, specifically referencing the loop in question.

    In some respects, he's right. I wasn't the fastest on the downhill. I DID eat **** on a loose, dusty corner.

    But a longer travel bike/fork, or even bigger tires wouldn't have helped. Everyone over cooks a corner now and them.

    Technical climbing skills and hot, nasty power got me to the top the quickest, and much better than average descending ability got me down faster than most, with a slight hiccup.


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  70. #70
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    Amusing

    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. (
    Amusing to see all the "experts" pontificating here. E.g., one lives in Florida and does 15 mile rides
    How many of you have even ridden on a mountain?

    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'm still astonished how many mountain bikers can't do what a crippled senior citizen can do

    My wheels never touch pavement, I do not race and I can only ride twice a week. Below is my typical ride, me on my first day of retirement, and the OP. None of you will ever get up to his skill level. I have about the worst skills ever, but nobody has more fun on the trails than me.






  71. #71
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    I'm 62. My skill level continues to increase. My endurance is "on the back 9". I'd take endurance over skill any time, just like I'd take youth over experience, but I don't get a choice.

  72. #72
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    I'm in the endurance camp. There's lots of trails around that you can get by without much skill but there's not a lot around that you can ride without some endurance. When I started riding I had neither. It sucked. I was huffing and puffing and sucking for air and I was miserable. Now that my fitness is 1000% better, I can enjoy the trails I ride even though my skills are stills are lacking.
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  73. #73
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    Endurance is also useful off the bike.

  74. #74
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    So's skill.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  75. #75
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    Endurance. Can there be a correlation with age re: one's choice I wonder?

    F9 is a young rider I'm guessing. Balls out or nothing, apparently.
    Stick around if you're housebroken...

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    Re: Skill or Endurance

    F9 you should enter a race or get stava, either way I think you'll find out you aren't nearly as good of a rider as you think you are. You need some humble pie.


    Quote Originally Posted by CannondaleF9 View Post
    . 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.


    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.
    This might be the dumbest thing I've ever read.

    I'm consistently annoyed by people on these forums saying xc racers have no technical skill....hauling ass down a trail when you're redlining is different than just casually riding along on the same trail. I am willing to bet that even a mid pack cat 2 XC racer would smoke you on technical sections

  77. #77
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    Since I started riding again after 8 years, I find I am increasing both my skill and endurance together. When I start out fresh on the trail I always had this spot where I would take my first rest. Last weekend I was able to pass that spot and take my first rest further along the trail.

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    One thing I like about being a mid-pack cat 2 is that I know when I do and don't have something to prove.
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    I read somewhere that the Koch brothers own the patents on Lycra, Coolmax, and every other kind of breathable synthetic. Is that true?

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    Re: Skill or Endurance

    Quote Originally Posted by Overhillthruthewoods View Post
    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.
    Around here, the gap between "beginner" rides and the next level up is huge, and for me, unbridgeable. Distance and elevation increase by a factor of 3, speed by about a factor of 2, and the rides require skills that one is unlikely to develop on the few easy beginner rides that there are.

  81. #81
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    Quote Originally Posted by andytiedye View Post
    I read somewhere that the Koch brothers own the patents on Lycra, Coolmax, and every other kind of breathable synthetic. Is that true?
    Absolutely true.
    I got some bad ideas in my head.

  82. #82
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    Quote Originally Posted by andytiedye View Post
    Around here, the gap between "beginner" rides and the next level up is huge, and for me, unbridgeable. Distance and elevation increase by a factor of 3, speed by about a factor of 2, and the rides require skills that one is unlikely to develop on the few easy beginner rides that there are.
    You need to find a group with some skilled riders who are willing to take easy on you. This is not easy but is possible. Another option is to find a more freeride group. Is freeride still used? Guys who jump off stuff and session obstacles. Fitness you can work on alone. Just ride up all the hills you can find. Also Strava times downhill are an indicator of skill.
    I got some bad ideas in my head.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Le Duke View Post
    I'm not sure why there is this misconception that Lycra = bad bike handling.
    No kidding. One of the most badass bike handlers I know cruises around in lycra. He makes frustratingly difficult trails look easy, people have rage quit and thrown their bikes into the trees in frustration on his local trails. I don't even ride those trails since they're so hard that they're not fun for me, and I have the skills to ride WC DH courses at speed on an XC hardtail bike.

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    Re: Skill or Endurance

    Quote Originally Posted by andytiedye View Post
    Around here, the gap between "beginner" rides and the next level up is huge, and for me, unbridgeable. Distance and elevation increase by a factor of 3, speed by about a factor of 2, and the rides require skills that one is unlikely to develop on the few easy beginner rides that there are.
    You don't need other people to go riding.

    I think it's fun to ride with a group on occasion, but most of the time, I just go ride on my own.

    I bet if you ride a couple of times a week for a season, you'll be fine joining some more advanced groups.

    Or,wtf, try one of their routes tomorrow. You may be surprised.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

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    Quote Originally Posted by AndrwSwitch View Post
    You don't need other people to go riding.
    Which is a very good thing, or I would hardly ever ride at all.

    Quote Originally Posted by AndrwSwitch View Post
    I bet if you ride a couple of times a week for a season, you'll be fine joining some more advanced groups.
    I do ride at least a couple of times a week, have done so for 20 years.
    My skill plateaued after about 3 years and much closer to "beginner" than "intermediate". Can't bunny-hop or manual, so pointing myself down a trail that requires me to do that won't improve my skill, only make me crash. Have been trying to learn those skills under more controlled circumstances without any success.

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    Re: Skill or Endurance

    Can you wheelie? I can't balance one. I either don't reach my balance point in the first place or I loop out. But a few years ago, I stuck some flat pedals on my bike and just worked on wheelies and some associated skills: lofting the front wheel to ride up a ledge and wheelie drops. While it's not really a part of how I currently ride over a log, I also practiced getting into a bunny hop via a wheelie.

    As the weather got better and my trails opened up, I lost interest in doing that stuff in a park in town, but I think spending a period of focused practice on it was really useful. I have much better control over my front wheel. I don't worry much about getting my rear wheel up. If it needs to come up, the obstacle can take care of it. I just shift my weight off it and let it happen.

    I'm thinking of sticking flats on my old bike to work this stuff again, actually. There's a log drop on a trail near my office that's a little much for me but looks perfect for a wheelie drop... If my wheelie drop was more consistent.

    I suspect that, like with skiing, there's something behind every solid-feeling plateau. Now that I've taken a class, I'm also more enamored of the idea of actually getting some instruction in MTB. If you think about riding on trails where there are other riders to see and seeing flaws in people's technique, well, who am I to think that other people don't see that stuff in mine? I don't really want random strangers yelling at me, "Hey Andrew, you're being too rigid with your feet," without context. But it was a useful discovery to make in a class, and it's changing how I ride.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

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    Quote Originally Posted by AndrwSwitch View Post
    Can you wheelie?
    Not really. I can get the wheel up a few inches for a fraction of a second and that's it. Same as with the manual. For a long time I assumed I simply wasn't strong enough, but there should have been some improvement as I gained strength, and there has been none.

    Quote Originally Posted by AndrwSwitch View Post
    I suspect that, like with skiing, there's something behind every solid-feeling plateau.
    Something like an i/o bandwidth limitation in my case. I run into this with any motor skill beyond a certain critical complexity, so I plateau very early in every sport I try.

    I did get some instruction early on, it didn't really help.

    Quote Originally Posted by AndrwSwitch View Post
    If you think about riding on trails where there are other riders to see and seeing flaws in people's technique
    I would not be able to detect such flaws, nor could I tell how to do it correctly by observing other riders in real time. It happens too fast to see.

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    Re: Skill or Endurance

    Quote Originally Posted by andytiedye View Post
    Which is a very good thing, or I would hardly ever ride at all.



    I do ride at least a couple of times a week, have done so for 20 years.
    My skill plateaued after about 3 years and much closer to "beginner" than "intermediate". Can't bunny-hop or manual, so pointing myself down a trail that requires me to do that won't improve my skill, only make me crash. Have been trying to learn those skills under more controlled circumstances without any success.
    Get this book:

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    Re: Skill or Endurance

    Quote Originally Posted by andytiedye View Post
    I would not be able to detect such flaws, nor could I tell how to do it correctly by observing other riders in real time. It happens too fast to see.
    I'm not talking about subtleties. For example, at an endurance race I did a couple weeks ago, there was a guy a few places further along in the conga line these things always start with who was way too tall in the saddle through all the tech stuff. Dude's legs were practically straight. I bet he'd see a massive improvement in his bike handling if he got a little lower.

    Since I like to talk about me, I bet my rigid foot placement stuck out as much.

    Watching someone who's really good, I think it's harder to learn much. They just flow over everything like it ain't no thang. But most of us really telegraph the things we do wrong, even if it's hard for us to recognize that we're doing it without help from an observer or doing drills that really rely on whatever skill it is.

    Bike fit's a similar deal. It's always pretty apparent when something's wrong and very often what it is, but it can be hard to feel.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  90. #90
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    If you work on skill, endurance will come.

    And for andytiedye, here is a really good video on how to wheelie.
    MOUNTAIN BIKE TRICK TIP: World's Best How to Wheelie Tutorial - YouTube
    We don't ride to add days to our life, we ride to add life to the days we have left here.

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    I always say that skill>endurance. Endurance can be achieved from sheer time on the bike. Some people ride a lifetime and NEVER develop good handling skills.

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    For the kind of riding I do (XC)....endurance. All the skill in the world won't help you when you are out of gas. Most really fast riders I have seen/known (read endurance) also possess great skill.
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    Quote Originally Posted by TiGeo View Post
    For the kind of riding I do (XC)....endurance. All the skill in the world won't help you when you are out of gas. Most really fast riders I have seen/known (read endurance) also possess great skill.
    That's how I see it too, once the ride gets beyond an hour or so endurance=power, and as power dwindles so do your skills.

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    Skill or Endurance

    Quote Originally Posted by iWiLRiDe View Post
    I always say that skill>endurance. Endurance can be achieved from sheer time on the bike. Some people ride a lifetime and NEVER develop good handling skills.
    If that's all it took, things would look a bit different a the Tour, Paris Roubaix, Flanders and la Flèche Wallone every year. Or the pointy end of the XCO races.


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    Generally, skill and endurance come together...the more you ride....the better endurance you get...the better your skills get from practice and so it goes...its not really a one or the other kind of thing. I ride a road bike and it gives the endurance to ride fast for periods of time; my skill comes from over 20 years of riding mountain bikes. Combine them, and you get a well-rounded rider :thumbsup
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    Re: Skill or Endurance

    Quote Originally Posted by Le Duke View Post
    If that's all it took, things would look a bit different a the Tour, Paris Roubaix, Flanders and la Flèche Wallone every year. Or the pointy end of the XCO races.


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    Huh? So you're saying endurance isn't directly proportional to time spent riding?

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    Quote Originally Posted by 8iking VIIking View Post
    Huh? So you're saying endurance isn't directly proportional to time spent riding?
    Yes, I am saying that.

    There are a lot of variables. Natural talent being one of them, diet, materiel support, and the actual breakdown of those hours being perhaps the most important factor.

    You can putter around for 4 hours a day, or you can focus your efforts in an intelligent manner for 2hrs a day, and still end up faster with the latter. Go look at the rides of the local pro XC racers on Strava. They aren't just riding massive volume. There is plenty of focused intensity. If time spent on the bike equalled speed, they'd be riding 6hrs a day. They aren't.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Le Duke View Post
    Yes, I am saying that.


    You can putter around for 4 hours a day, or you can focus your efforts in an intelligent manner for 2hrs a day, and still end up faster with the latter. Go look at the rides of the local pro XC racers on Strava. They aren't just riding massive volume. There is plenty of focused intensity. If time spent on the bike equalled speed, they'd be riding 6hrs a day. They aren't.
    The pros aren't sharing those long days in the saddle.
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  99. #99
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    Quote Originally Posted by TiGeo View Post
    For the kind of riding I do (XC)....endurance. All the skill in the world won't help you when you are out of gas. Most really fast riders I have seen/known (read endurance) also possess great skill.
    +1.

    When my endurance drops after 4 or 5 hours out, my skillset sucks Baulz.
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