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Weight shift.

That's how you get over almost everything.
As a noob this is the skill I seem to need to work on the most. It really doesn't matter what line you pick if your body position is all wrong, its not going to end well for you.

I would say the one skill that will help get a beginner to the next level is line choice. Better riders understand their line options better.

Other beginner skills necessary to advance, as has been mentioned, is learning to look ahead.
 

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Balance. Cause without it you literally fall off your bike no matter how fast or slow you go.

the most important skill for highly skilled riders is to process information rapidly and make decisions on what is happening next. I wouldnt call it picking lines as you can do that standing beside your bike or doing a track walk.
 

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Elitest thrill junkie
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As a noob this is the skill I seem to need to work on the most. It really doesn't matter what line you pick if your body position is all wrong, its not going to end well for you.

I would say the one skill that will help get a beginner to the next level is line choice. Better riders understand their line options better.

Other beginner skills necessary to advance, as has been mentioned, is learning to look ahead.
Sometimes we do the stuff so mindlessly we don't even stop to think about what we are doing. I notice in the winter on the snow especially, a technique we use over and over again is to let the front wheel roll up over something, pushing out with our arms, and then once the front wheel rolls over it, move our body mass forward past the center of the bike, thereby getting most of the bike "past" the object, step, incline, loose spot, etc. Then we can start pedaling lightly again because we will clear the object with our rear wheel without much trouble, as our weight is mostly on the front. Once you get past this little object, you immediately shift backwards and get weight on the rear end to load it so you can pedal and not slip/maintain speed.

Moving back and forth on the bike like this is super important IMO, also the beginnings of how to deal with dropoffs and other stuff in the trail. IME, it doesn't matter even if you are going uphill, flat, or downhill, I've had to do this to varying degrees in all situations.

It goes hand in hand with conditioning and understanding when to absorb something vs. when to stay rigid.
 
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Hmmm, interesting discussion.
From a lot of knowledgeable people with lotta real years experience.

My take, skills are progressive in learning … initially learning requires thinking and cognitive ability .. then they become second nature, your foundation base to build upon.

However, slow balance imo seems to truly lead. The ability to near stop and reroute .. on the fly

Used it countless times in races, passing people uphill, heck in the inevitable choo choo train that forms, etc.

Slow balance involves .. advanced brake feel and modulation techniques also.

Doing advanced scouting with trail builders for new trails, we bushwhacked thru forest area… yea, what a hoot and a blast, who’s done that here? The most fun this 59 year old has had in many many years, it truly is “playing”.

That is where slow balance showed itself, and scouting ahead, picking your “line” where there is no trail, your going over trees and foliage, etc.
Slow balance..

With real good slow balance, new possibilities open on all uphills that aren’t there for others.
Confidence to do / try technical features.

Yea, I’m that guy on some group rides, in parking lot just waiting for people to gather, who will slooowly move / near stop move / stop without dabbing .. time killer but subconsciously slow balance.

Side bar:
I’ve been riding since 1990’s, did the multi year racing thing, medals and podium finishes.. become memories and items that collect in boxes.
Don’t overthink MTB too much, ride, have fun, play, enjoy.


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Professional Crastinator
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Line picking is a valuable skill, but I feel I've ridden some stuff that really didn't have a line. In that case, the most important skill is riding your bike. That is, dealing with what you've chosen (or blundered into).

-F
 

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"Target fixation" is something that occasionally I still have a problem with. It's like turns, something I'm constantly trying to improve.
Been riding for 22 years and I still do it from time-to-time. Ran straight into a tree a few weeks ago. My friends got a good chuckle.
 

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Cornering separates the fast guys/girls from the rest of the..world. Anyone can ride a straight line, but mastering cornering is hard.
 

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I often ride a rigid SS and that's what I really enjoy about it. I'll often choose the rocky line just for fun. it's really when climbing where I have to pick a particular line, to maintain momentum and successfully get up short but tricky tech spots. Line picking is probably my favorite aspect of mountain biking, I really love the focus it requires. I have no interest in long travel bikes.
 

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Out spokin'
In cog? Neato!
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Discussion Starter · #49 ·
I often ride a rigid SS and that's what I really enjoy about it. I'll often choose the rocky line just for fun. it's really when climbing where I have to pick a particular line, to maintain momentum and successfully get up short but tricky tech spots. Line picking is probably my favorite aspect of mountain biking, I really love the focus it requires. I have no interest in long travel bikes.
I think I know what you mean. I love picking lines, too. The undertaking changes dramatically as speed increases. How fast can the brain process incoming data and continue to make good line choices? How fast can the body & bike respond and hit the chosen marks as speed continues to increase?

My GF & I refer to this as playing "Trail Tetris."

Aboard the bike, the penalty for failure can be worse than losing at the computer game Tetris.

Understatement.
=sParty
 

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Candlestick Maker
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In the past week, I broke the frame of my race bike and the hanger on my main trail bike. Yesterday, I grabbed my rigid singlespeed and hit some of the trails I ride all the time. My segment times were damn near the top on almost every segment I hit. This had me thinking about line selection and how important it is.

I learned to ride in the 80s, pre suspension. Line selection was king to having fun and going fast. With so many years of riding, it has become second nature. On the other hand, a few years ago I got a modern trail bike (Banshee Prime) and it took me a while to realize that my old school line selection was actually holding me back. I started to implement the RSO technique (run sh1t over). My times on really techy segments dropped a ton!

Here is a crap video of a short bit of yesterday's ride showing my rigid ss line selection through semi techy trail. Very different than if I'd been on my Banshee.

 

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None of the above. MTB skill #1 is being nice to other riders and trail users. That's what separates MTB riders from MTB owners from roadies from mass murderers.
 

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Line picking is a valuable skill, but I feel I've ridden some stuff that really didn't have a line. In that case, the most important skill is riding your bike. That is, dealing with what you've chosen (or blundered into).

-F
I get that too. The trails I normally ride don't really have that many line options either. Other than a few rocks to go over or around, there's not much there other than the dirt on the trail and the occasional root or rock to launch off of.
 

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Disgruntled Peccary
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Slow IS smooth, smooth IS fast.

Rushing just makes things worse. Slow down, think, then act.
 
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Never trust a fart
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Sounds witty. I understand smooth is fast, but what do you mean by slow is smooth?
Once you are able to slowly and smoothly ride your bike and be able to read the trail conditions, the speed will eventually come.

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Candlestick Maker
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Once you are able to slowly and smoothly ride your bike and be able to read the trail conditions, the speed will eventually come.
Ah, yes, that makes sense to me. The speed comes with experience and skill that takes patience to gain.
 
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