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Gear vs skill psychology?
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April
Joined: 13 Dec 2003
Posts: 6472
Location: Westchester/NYC

4/19/13 6:20 PM

Gear vs skill psychology?

Ok, this is more of a rant but I am curious about the roots of the phenomena...

As some of you know I ski in the winter. And I participate in ski related forums. I see an interesting contrast between cycling and skiing when it comes to gear vs. skill.

This being the end of skiing season, I see lots and lots of posts on the ski forum on "which ski should I buy?". Fine. But from time to time, there's say, a post asking "how do I ski powder/crud/whatever condition?" and it doesn't take long before someone post (maybe 2nd or 3rd post) "get a fatter skis and you'll be able to enjoy it" Then the whole thread went in the direction of how fat a ski will handle how many inches of snow! And the OP ended up with the conclusion he/she needs 3 pairs of different width and stiffness!!!

Now, before you all jump up and down saying "all gear with no idea (on how to use them)", I starting to see the post on "ok, I want to get fit in the summer and I've got a Kmart special I'd like to take to the same lift-served mtn bike park". And no matter how strongly anyone tell them the Kmart special won't survive a run or two, they refuse to buy a better bike!!!

If biking is like skiing, people would have downhill bike with 2" travel, 4" travvel and 6" travel while sporting 2" tires and 3" tires each!!!

I lost count of how many of my casual friends (usually non-skiers) who ask me how they can "train" to ride a century but they won't hear me suggesting they should trade their hybrid up to a road bike! At the same time, half of my chair lift conversation are on which ski would be best for whatever the condition we had at the time!

What is it that skiing is all about skis while the cycling public refuses to buy a properly fitted bike? Never mind a bike for each condition?

Is it because bike cost starts $1000 plus while skis are mostly under $1000?

Or is it because ski manufacturers are better at marketing than bike manufacturers? (high end bikes like to market as "do-everything biike", while few skis are marketed that way)

Or is it because skiing involves so much money (lift tickets ~$100/day) anyway they're all so much quicker to throw money at whatever technique deficiency?

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greglepore
Joined: 10 Jan 2004
Posts: 1639
Location: SE Pa, USA

4/19/13 6:36 PM

Biking is something we learn to do as 6 yr olds, without ever viewing it as a "sport" and thur people have an issue with 3k bikes...

And yes, a "great" pair of skis is 1.5k, a great bike is 3 or 5 or 10 (!) times that.

In the bike world, people refuse to believe that a $750 unbranded carbon frame with good components is 90% of a Cervelo or BMC or pick yours because after all, equipment is the game, once you're in the game. The folks you're talking to about cycling aren't "in the game".

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Evan Marks
Joined: 11 Jan 2004
Posts: 1652
Location: NYC

4/19/13 7:41 PM

The answer is simple.

Cycling is not like skiing, period.

And while we're at it, surfing is not like either one. Period.

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KerryIrons
Joined: 12 Jan 2004
Posts: 2964
Location: Midland, MI

4/19/13 7:42 PM

Greg got it


quote:
Biking is something we learn to do as 6 yr olds, without ever viewing it as a "sport" and thur people have an issue with 3k bikes...

And yes, a "great" pair of skis is 1.5k, a great bike is 3 or 5 or 10 (!) times that.


I'd say this sums it up. Factor in that even "cheap" skiing costs a lot more than bicycling as a hobby/sport and you have a very different mindset among skiers than cyclists.

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April
Joined: 13 Dec 2003
Posts: 6472
Location: Westchester/NYC

4/19/13 8:46 PM


quote:
Factor in that even "cheap" skiing costs a lot more than bicycling as a hobby/sport and you have a very different mindset among skiers than cyclists

I was a skier before I become a cyclist.

To me, I found cycling a "salvation" from the slavery of paying for lift tickets! So I drop big coins (for me) on bike(s) much more freely, knowing full well it cost next to nothing to ride them.

As you can see, I have trouble understanding when it's the reverse...

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Steve B.
Joined: 19 Jan 2004
Posts: 716
Location: Long Island, NY

4/20/13 4:27 AM

I had this very same series of discussions with a buddy a few years back. A dedicated downhill and x-country skier, as well as a cyclist at heart.

He would buy new skis every 5 years or so, but (up to about 5 years ago) still rode his 35 year old steel Fuji S10S. Even having him ride one of my road bikes would not get him to spend some money. The best argument was that he knew that he loved both activities and once he realized he used his bike 30-40 times per year, vs. maybe 6-10 times per year on his skis, he could see the logic.

Then I had him climb some hills on my carbon with STI shifters and I think that sold him. He now rides a Specialized Tricross and loves it (he rides on dirt roads a lot) He still objects to spending $3,000 on a decent road bike that will last him a good 7-10 years, even though that's what he's doing primarily, but see's no issue "upgrading" to new skis every 5 years, it's just enough cheaper to not hurt the wallet as much. He ignores the 6 days of activity vs. 40 as well as the cost of travel to the ski area's, lodging, meals and lift tickets.

I think as well that part of it is he bikes out of his house, so riding becomes an "activity", while he associates skiing as a "vacation"., thus has more value emotionally.

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dan emery
Joined: 11 Jan 2004
Posts: 6106
Location: Maine

4/20/13 5:39 AM

Greg's right

I can't answer for downhill skiers, but most people don't consider cycling as a sport or skilled athletic activity, so a bike is a bike. On the other end of the spectrum are the weight weenies, aero addicts, power obsessors, retro/rando snobs (for Andy!), etc.

Personally I have 16 bikes and the one I ride most often is about 34 lbs (without counting the two large, often stuffed Carradice bags). The other day I was riding home on my rando bike with the front bag overstuffed with groceries, and stopped to talk with a friend. He said "I thought you had a saddle bag." I said "that's a different bike," which makes perfect sense to me, but not so much to others.

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April
Joined: 13 Dec 2003
Posts: 6472
Location: Westchester/NYC

4/20/13 8:58 AM

I resemble that remark!


quote:
I think as well that part of it is he bikes out of his house, so riding becomes an "activity", while he associates skiing as a "vacation"., thus has more value emotionally.


I definitely see that mentality. I definitely see skiing as a "vacation" as opposed to "sport". (except I don't see cycling as a sport until much more recently)

For me, the difference being I don't see a lot of difference a new bike make! If I were racing, I might be more incline to spend some coin for light & aero wheels and the new electronic shifters. But the more often I ride, the less I care for the weight of the bike... so my next bike would either be a fixie or a 29'er. Both are now out of fashion by more than 5 years.

With skis, I can definitely see some changes in ski technology. The rocker design seems to work very well, clearly an advantage on heavy wet snow. I'm going out to tackle some slushy bumps tomorrow, I wish I have rockered skis! At $400-500 end-of-season sale, it's easy to come up with the money. And the illusion of 50% off is also an extremely very powerful draw!


quote:
see's no issue "upgrading" to new skis every 5 years, it's just enough cheaper to not hurt the wallet as much.

That maybe part of the issue. Many skiers buy new skis every 5 years because that's how long a pair of skis last ASSUMING you ski 20-40 days a season! So amortizing a pair of $500 skis over 5 years is much easier to do.

Bikes by nature doesn't needs replacing, not the entire bike. Just bits and piece of componentry that got worn out.

Every time the skis goes to a shop to be tuned, one is tempted by the new ones on display. And in the base lodge of every mountain, there's at least one ski shop. Not every bike ride begins and ends next to a bike shop!

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April
Joined: 13 Dec 2003
Posts: 6472
Location: Westchester/NYC

4/20/13 9:19 AM

skill vs gear


quote:
I had him climb some hills on my carbon with STI shifters and I think that sold him. He now rides a Specialized Tricross and loves it (he rides on dirt roads a lot) He still objects to spending $3,000 on a decent road bike that will last him a good 7-10 years

So many skiers will drop up to a grand on a pair of new skis "for certain condition" he/she don't have the skill to handle. But won't drop the same amount on a clinic that would allow him to handle the condition on existing skis!

But try to convince a cyclist he can climb a lot faster and ride a lot longer on a better bike? The typical response I got is "it's the engine that counts". Well, the engine aren't in prime form any more, and a sub-20 lb bike would make up the difference. No dice!

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Andy M-S
Joined: 11 Jan 2004
Posts: 3201
Location: Hamden (greater New Haven) CT

4/21/13 9:33 AM

I resemble that remark!


quote:
I think as well that part of it is he bikes out of his house, so riding becomes an "activity"...


Well, the first part, anyway. I've never enjoyed "sport"--likely something that came out of being a skinny geek before it was fashionable to be a geek, and not even being good at basketball.

On the other hand, riding took me places I wanted to go--friends' houses, stores, school. For me, cycling is not a sport, or really, an activity. It's a way of life . I have two bikes, and they're pretty close in design and construction. They're mostly there to back up each other.

That doesn't mean that I don't enjoy cycling events--or that the bikes aren't suited to some events. A randonneuring bike (though I'm not randonneur) is well-suited to centuries and commuting. Less so, of course, to racing.

But this may be missing the point. Everyone on this board--even me--has drunk some variation of the Kool-Aid. Getting people over the hump from non-cycling to cycling is another thing.

It's interesting to me that, at this very moment, there is a discussion going on in the iBOB list about the Bridgestone XO-1, which many characterize as a "jack of all trades, master of none."

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Sparky
Joined: 08 Dec 2003
Posts: 16974
Location: Portland, OR

4/21/13 10:08 AM

" He said "I thought you had a saddle bag." I said "that's a different bike," which makes perfect sense to me, but not so much to others."


Actually seems hard to find folks that don't understand here... ;)

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KerryIrons
Joined: 12 Jan 2004
Posts: 2964
Location: Midland, MI

4/21/13 6:58 PM

Equipment vs. skill


quote:
So many skiers will drop up to a grand on a pair of new skis "for certain condition" he/she don't have the skill to handle. But won't drop the same amount on a clinic that would allow him to handle the condition on existing skis!

But try to convince a cyclist he can climb a lot faster and ride a lot longer on a better bike? The typical response I got is "it's the engine that counts". Well, the engine aren't in prime form any more, and a sub-20 lb bike would make up the difference. No dice!


Yes but. Me, I only have one pair of skis for all conditions and never contemplate the "need" for anything else. But when you read a lot of the bike forums you find people wanting to know how much faster they will be if they get new inner tubes, wheels, tires, cranks, pedals, bike, helmet, jersey, shoes, etc.

There is a HUGE difference between the everyday public out riding their bikes or the chair lift and the kind of dedicated (and often very misinformed) "enthusiasts."

April I think you are confusing "enthusiast" skiers with every day cyclists. Most skiers aren't like that; many, if you put your hand over their eyes and ask them about their skis can't answer any basic questions. Cyclists are the same in that there are very different groups of folks though they all ride bikes.

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April
Joined: 13 Dec 2003
Posts: 6472
Location: Westchester/NYC

4/22/13 12:17 AM


quote:
April I think you are confusing "enthusiast" skiers with every day cyclists. Most skiers aren't like that; many, if you put your hand over their eyes and ask them about their skis can't answer any basic questions. Cyclists are the same in that there are very different groups of folks though they all ride bikes.

Well, enthusiast to everyday cyclist are actually a continium. Perhaps less so in skiing, since it isn't nearly as much of an "activity" as cycling.

Take mtn bikes, which are more like downhill skis. Even people who ride a lot don't have gazillion mtn bikes. (some do but they're really minorities). Maybe they have two, one from years ago they kept around as a back up.

Granted, most people also don't have gazillion skis. But at least I don't see a lot of "advice" on mtn bike forum for people to buy another bike when they ask how to climb slick rock! Much more often is "Will my bike handle a 10' jump?" (and the answer is it better have a double crown fork and 6" travel!).

What I'm observing is the biking circle isn't in the habit of buying equipment as a substitute for training as the skiing circle! In fact, even in the "enthusiast cyclist" circle, there's more of a "Will I look more like a fred being dropped while riding a high end bike?"

Perhaps that has to do with cycling "enthusiast" are looking at riding is looked at as an "exercise" so buying bikes to make riding easier is a bit of "cheating"?

I don't know, just thinking out loud.

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Andy M-S
Joined: 11 Jan 2004
Posts: 3201
Location: Hamden (greater New Haven) CT

4/22/13 7:47 AM

Advice...


quote:

What I'm observing is the biking circle isn't in the habit of buying equipment as a substitute for training as the skiing circle! In fact, even in the "enthusiast cyclist" circle, there's more of a "Will I look more like a fred being dropped while riding a high end bike?"


Hmmm. That's true to a certain extent, but on the newbie end, equipment *is* often seen as a substitute. I'm thinking not only of the "which bike should I buy" questions at, say, RBR, but of the somewhat overweight "racer" on the metric I did on Saturday, who was pointing out the amazing characteristics (particularly weight) of his US Postal Trek.

I think that once you find your place in cycling, be it racing, touring, whatever--maybe multiple places, so a better term might be self --you're a little less drawn to the Gee Whiz stuff. Though clearly, we all suffer to some extent from "Attention Deficit Oooh Shiny."

I haven't skied for many, many years (to give you some idea, the major distinctions at the time were wood/fiberglass/metal and Cubco bindings were what the cool kids were using), so I don't know to what extent it's a newbie thing there. Cross country would, of course, be a whole other kettle of fish.

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April
Joined: 13 Dec 2003
Posts: 6472
Location: Westchester/NYC

4/22/13 8:59 AM


quote:
of the somewhat overweight "racer" on the metric I did on Saturday, who was pointing out the amazing characteristics (particularly weight) of his US Postal Trek.

I agree the cycling circle isn't entirely devoid of gear over skill bahavior. I should clarify it's only in relative terms it seems less so in comparison to skiing.

I think for racers, bike or ski, have legitimate reason to get the best gear they see fit. After all, it's a competition and the "best" time is achieved by having the best performaning body and gear. So whether the person has reached the peak performance or not, better gear will translate into better time.

But for non-racers, seems to me the perceived purpose of the acitivity might have some influence on how they look at gear. For the skiing crowd, it seems it's looked at they can buy their way into ability to handle whatever the slope throw at them (powder, slush, ice). While for the cycling crowd, skill IS the goal for many (that "skill" can be lungs & legs for climbing, or handling skills for rocky/rooty downhill single track). So my impression is they're less quick to "upgrade".

Another interesting thing is, the skiing world embraces formal lessons. Every mountain has an entire ski school cater to those who're ready with cash. The perception is skiing isn't a "natural" skill as bike riding. Trying to find a mtn bike skill lesson? Well, it's finally appearing but the perception is still there, if you didn't learn it as a kid, you don't bother as an adult!

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Sparky
Joined: 08 Dec 2003
Posts: 16974
Location: Portland, OR

4/22/13 10:02 AM

Maybe a bit easier to cobble a nice bike from appropriated high end parts than a ski outfit?
But then again, maybe not if you work at the ski shop. ;)

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sandiway
Joined: 15 Dec 2003
Posts: 4902
Location: back in Tucson

4/22/13 12:02 PM

buddhism and biking

I think biking is like Buddhism. You know, desire and attachment and all that jazz...

I think I've passed through the enthusiast phase of cycling. I've done nearly everything I want to do. And "justified" all my upgrades and gadgets to myself by "earning" them through meeting minor goals that I used to have.

Recently, I rode my bike three days in a row. Haven't done that since 2008. My SRM computer didn't even boot up (the nicad battery inside died). I didn't care at all. I rode my bike without regard to speed. In the old days, I would have been bored stiff just pedaling around.

Didn't cost me a penny (spent no money on gear/nutrition). (Well, except someone fired 5 BB gun pellets at my car window while it was parked near a bike path.)

It's not even about fitness. I'm not in my prime cycling shape but I can't call myself unfit either. I'm fairly sure I'd do reasonably well on a 25 mile climb compared to my old self if needed. But I don't even bother to test.

Occasionally, I read about the latest Dura-Ace Di2, 11 speeds, 650g frames etc. And I get the urge to call the LBS to ask about availability. But I let the feeling pass and it's gone after that brief moment of gear acquisition syndrome.

I think I've achieved a different kind of achievement. I'm happy just to pedal the bike. I don't care if it's hilly or not, windy or not. It doesn't matter.

With respect to other sports, I haven't reached the same stage yet...

Sandiway

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Andy M-S
Joined: 11 Jan 2004
Posts: 3201
Location: Hamden (greater New Haven) CT

4/22/13 12:07 PM

"I ride my bike to ride my bike."

nm.

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KerryIrons
Joined: 12 Jan 2004
Posts: 2964
Location: Midland, MI

4/22/13 6:36 PM

History


quote:
Cubco bindings were what the cool kids were using


Andy, you have gotten confused by history. As one who was required to use Cubco bindings by risk-averse parents I can tell you that Cubcos were NEVER cool. Marker turntables with long thongs - now that was cool (and a short route to serious leg injuries).

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Andy M-S
Joined: 11 Jan 2004
Posts: 3201
Location: Hamden (greater New Haven) CT

4/22/13 8:18 PM

Cool.

c. 1972 or so (IIRC) Cubco was the thing--at least on the MN hills.

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Sparky
Joined: 08 Dec 2003
Posts: 16974
Location: Portland, OR

4/22/13 9:41 PM


quote:
I'm happy just to pedal the bike. I don't care if it's hilly or not, windy or not. It doesn't matter.


Me too, but I may get fast again and spoil it all..

Although Rob will tell you there is little chance of it happening having ridden with me a decent amount last year.

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sandiway
Joined: 15 Dec 2003
Posts: 4902
Location: back in Tucson

4/22/13 10:44 PM


quote:
but I may get fast again and spoil it all..


For me that's irrelevant. Even if I was fast relatively speaking, I would not care. If I'm fast, cool. If I'm not, it's still cool. After all, we've got a 20 speed gear box. Plenty of range to match power output with terrain.

I'd just pedal without putting myself into that red zone, refusing to use that bailout gear, grimacing until my facial muscles hurt, nearly falling over, puking up at the side of the road after a timed loop, etc. Been there. Done that. It's out of my system for good.

Sandiway

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April
Joined: 13 Dec 2003
Posts: 6472
Location: Westchester/NYC

4/23/13 7:26 AM


quote:
It's out of my system for good.

Some of us never had it in our system! ;-)

Even though I like to climb, I never pushed it to the red zone. I do enjoy the rush of endorphrin. So I try to keep it in that "other" zone for as long as I can maintain it...

Or maybe I did, when I was quite young, as a kid. So I got it "out of the system" before I even realize it conciously? ;-)

"After all, we've got a 20 speed gear box. Plenty of range to match power output with terrain. "

But yeah, in cycling, there's more option on existing GEAR (literally) to make up for skill deficiency already, without having to buy yet another bike. With skiing, you'll be talking about another pair of skis.

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KerryIrons
Joined: 12 Jan 2004
Posts: 2964
Location: Midland, MI

4/23/13 6:47 PM

Cubco cool


quote:
c. 1972 or so (IIRC) Cubco was the thing--at least on the MN hills.



Man, I moved off Cubco nearly a decade before that with Look cable release bindings and then Marker Rotamats in the mid-60s. I can't say I ever saw a Cubco binding after 1968.

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Brian Nystrom
Joined: 26 Jan 2004
Posts: 4241
Location: Nashua, NH

4/24/13 5:15 AM

It's really pretty simple

Most people find it easier to plunk down a credit card for new gear that they think will improve their performance than to work on improving their skills or fitness. I've seen this with virtually every activity I've been involved with and I'm as guilty of it as anyone.

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