So I'm going to be joining the ranks of the MTB crowd soon. I'm a Cat2, hopefully 1 soon, roadie, looking for a way to improve my technical abilities (particularly descents) and also find a way to train in the slop without destroying my road bike.
I've done two MTB races; a Saturday/Sunday college weekend on a borrowed bike. I had less than no skill on the bike: I had to run up the short but super steep incline each time...in my speedplay zero cleat equipped road shoes. Needless to say it wasn't the most enjoyable experience I've had.
This time around, I'm going to give it a go on a bike that fits, with proper MTB shoes. So, my first question is what sort of bike should I buy? I've been looking at getting a BikesDirect bike (http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/...tock.htm#specs) and beating that into the ground, replacing things as I go. I want a hardtail, as my friends have had nothing but grief from their various models of full suspension rigs, particularly the linkages.
I know next to nothing about proper set-up, fit, or tire choice (which, as I understand it, is far more crucial in the woods than on the roads). Any tips regarding tire choice, pressure, bike setup (weight distribution?) would be appreciated.
I'll obviously be racing the beginner class to start out, but I expect to move up to at least the expert class by the end of the season. Perhaps I expect too much, but setting the bar too low isn't going to get me anywhere either.