Well, first off, i've been a roadie for a while now, but have never dipped into the dark side of mountain biking. I've used then on the street and sometimes on dirt paths, but never taken any serious trips. Long story short, I crashed my road bike into the back of a truck (stopped short with no brake lights) on a descent and was left with...no road bike.
Anyway, one of my good non-biker friends recently got a Giant XTC from his uncle for no apparent reason (he said something about it getting stolen because it cost 3k ) and wondered if I'd go with him. We never really got around to it during the school year, but finally decided to go today. Anyway, I got a look at the Giant and it was pretty freaking sweet: XT shimano stuff, disc brakes, and other good stuff. Plus is freaking feather light. I don't really have a mountain bike, so I borrowed my dad's Mongoose Rockadile SX. Solid Chro-mo frame was heavy as hell, but I figured it would suit its purpose.
Anyway we left pretty early this morning and his the Chumash trail in Simi Valley. I don't know if any of you guys have gone on this trail, but its pretty steep. Actually I wasn't really prepared for how hard it was. Both my friend and I are in pretty good shape and we ended up pushing in some of the really steep places. We pedaled for about 2.5 miles and was almost to the top when we stumbled on a bee nest sort of thing. There were tons of them flying around and we were really pissed off that we couldn't make it to the end of the trail since it was just another quarter of a mile away and considered inching our way though the group of bee things. They weren't bees though...they were black and came out of brown pod things on the ground. Still, we didn't want to die in the wilderness from a thousand bee stings, so we didn't go for it. Just then we heard a really loud buzzing from down the trail a bit. Weirdest thing I have ever heard-it kind of sounded like a freewheel spinning really fast and I thought for a second that it might be another biker coming up the trail. My friend and I were getting a little weirded out when the image of a rattlesnake flashed in both our heads....suddenly, the sound was coming from everywhere all around us like there were hundreds of little things all buzzing. We broke off half running/half riding pedaling like hell in sheer terror (sort of) from whatever it was that was making noise. Anyway, going down was really sweet but it was so steep I had to ride the brakes a lot, but it was fun as hell.
Both of us want to go back again, except maybe try a different trail this time around. The mongoose held up surprisingly well considering my dad probably paid $150 or so for it. Shifting was kind of crappy sometimes (weird Shimano Megadrive stuff), but it held up alright thoughout the trip. Plus the wheel became slightly untrue, but I fixed that in about 5 minutes. It was truly a awesome experience and I definitely will try to purchase a good mountain bike in the future as soon as I buy a new road bike.
Hopefully we'll both go a couple more times during the summer also.
Quick question: for an entry level bike, whats the lowest shimano component group that won't fall apart on me? Alivio? The thing is that I don't really want disc brakes. Well tuned cantilever brakes work fine for me and i'd rather have better shifting...