I'm a new future MTB rider in the SoCal area. Been looking around for something in the ~$600 range. Got a couple good LBSs in town and the Gary Fisher Tassajara seems to be the best bike in that price range. I'm a bit on the heavy side right now (~250) but I'm hoping biking will help that. The Fishers front fork seems to handle the weight pretty well when pumped up.
Haven't ridden a bike in quite a while, so it's gonna take a bit of getting used to again. You certainly ride alot higher on these 26" MTBs than I used to on my last bike with 20"s.
Riding isn't as much fun on your own as in a group so wouldn't mind knowing about any groups in the area that do regular rides. Sounds like there is a few good trails in my hometown I'll have to look into once I gain some confidence.
Glad to be here,