The 29er I was testing featured Avid Elixir hydraulic brakes. Twitch your finger and you're full lock. Then I started to ponder the riding tactics of fast off road riders: They carry maximum speed until the last possible second, then brake for an instant and turn. It's an on/off and go model. Brakes are a necessary evil, but when fast riders need brakes, they need them full on.
This is a world apart from master man. I like to drag my Avid BB5 brakes. When I grab a handful, it's all friction. I like the ability to reduce speed in a gradual fashion, many times braking throughout the entire turn.
It's not the fast way around and surely not recommended by anyone who stays off the front. I need to accept who I am, a 54-year-old man who's trying to survive and ride another day. I learned a tough lesson in that more technology isn't always better - if you don't have the skill set to step up to the level of the technology.
It's proper to admit what you aren't, instead of what you want to be. When it comes to my mountain bike hobby, it's best to embrace the slow but persistent man that I am.