I got several great comments from last weeks posts concerning rider skills, bicycle types for off roading, and whether either one actually matters or not.
My feeling is that yes: an individual can buy a mountain bike these days that will make it rather difficult to ride another type of mountain bike effectively. The bikes have become so specialized these days that to switch from one 6 X 6 inch travel free ride machine to a fully rigid mountain bike would require quite some time to become fully acclimated to the nuances of riding a rigid machine effectively. The opposite is probably true, as well. I mean, are you going to huck a three foot drop right away after spending all your time on a rigid mountain bike? Most likely, the answer is "no", but there are always exceptions.
So, is it the rider then? Or, is it the bike? How does riding a different bike make you better? Can it even do such a thing? Maybe a good, skilled, fit rider can ride any bike, anywhere and make it work as well as it could. Hmm...........
I think in the end what we have is a combination of things. A bike on it's own merits does not impart a higher degree of skill, fitness, or technique to it's rider, no matter how high tech it is. Conversely, if a fit, skilled rider gets on a DH sled, yet hasn't a clue how to use that tool for the job, then the rider isn't going to automatically go fastest down the hill. You need to have both things. The right tool for the job and the skills, fitness, and knowledge to extract the best performance out of the bike and the rider. Having daring, tolerance for pain, and determination doesn't hurt either. ( Well, maybe not so much on the tolerance for pain thing!)
How you get to the perfect mix of equipment, skill, fitness, and package it all together in a great performance is going to look different for each rider. Some will have come from a simple, rigid, single speed backround, and some from road riding, and some from free riding and.....where ever! Sometimes the package that you employ for a particular ride might look crazy to others. ( Like riding a road bike off road or doing a road training ride on a dual sus mtb) Either way, if your performance is top notch, then who is to say that it's wrong? Yes, maybe it could be better with a more traditional set up, but then again..........maybe not! The mind is a weird place and factors highly into all of this.
So, how did you pay your dues? Does it really matter? I'll tell you what really matters! ...........
It's that you did it all on a bicycle and you had fun doing it! ( at least I hope you had some fun!)