I've had my Trek 3900 XC for 14 months, fast approaching 2000 miles, 800 with knobbies, 1200 with slicks. I was out riding today and several things became crystal clear to me:
1. I still love this bike, and have no desire to sell it. I may not ride it often, but it's still a pleasure, everything continues to work well, and I love riding it in the rain too. If my other bike(s) were out of commission or in the shop or stolen or whatever, I'd be happy to be "confined" to my 3900 for a while.
2. That said, I haven't squeezed all the potential out of this bike. When I got it, I was new. I had very rusty skills and not much confidence. I quickly made road riding a habit and never, ever, took the bike off road, except to cross a patch of lawn or something.
3. I'd like to try "mountain biking" but I don't have a clue how to start. I think there are quite a few trails out here in San Diego, and there appears to even be a book with maps, etc. But I have some concerns, and i'd love to hear from those of you who ride offroad with any tips, suggestions, etc.
a) I think the best way to start would be to find easy trails in the woods, rather than trying to tackle steep, boulder-filled trails. Am I right?
b) I ride alone 99.2% of the time. Will this be an issue when riding in the back country?
c) How should i budget my time for riding offroad? In other words, I know that I ride 10-15 miles an hour on the road, but off road? If the trail is a 3 mile loop, how long will that take?
d) Do I need other equipment beyond what I have? I have MTB shoes, no clips, the bike, bike bag, pump, etc.
e) How do I "unhook" my brain from thinking about how FAR i rode offroad, which is what i do think about when I'm on the street? Seems like that would be pretty silly, right? But I know me, and i'd be debating about whether or not to take the ride, given that it's not going to add much to my annual mileage goal. Have to bust that paradigm!
f) What skills will i have to develop?
Thanks -- I'm betting that doing some riding on the light side will be fun!