Just thought I'd share some of my thoughts, opinions, and experiences now that I've been at this for about 2 months. They are in no particular order, and they are purely my opinion....just for the sake of discussion and because I'm kinda bored.

- I like my new bike (2013 Giant Talon). When I first got it I couldn't tell much difference between it and my WalMart bike. Today I rode the WalMart bike around just in the yard for a bit. Haha.....wow.....huuuuuuge difference. It makes me feel good to know that I can tell a difference. It makes me feel better about spending all that money on the Giant which was half-again what I set my budget at when I started shopping and reading this site.

-I need to go faster. Not kill-myself fast, but I quickly learned that I can't creep up on obstacles and then burst through them. For me, it seems a steady, just-a-little-faster-than-I-think-I-should-be-going pace works well.

-I am still messing with the preload and rebound settings on my fork (XC30). Maybe it's not a good enough fork for the adjustments to really make a difference?

- I like riding alone. Don't get me wrong, if a friend or 2 wants to go I'll go out in a group, but I enjoy riding where I want at my own pace.

- I like slower, more technical trails. I rode 10.5 miles of grassy, basically roads (a few decent parts sprinkled in), last weekend and it kicked my butt just because of the elevation changes but I'd rather do 5 miles of rocks and roots than 10 miles of sit-and-pedal.

- It seems to me that anyone's first bike is going to be a crap-shoot. I basically figured out what features I wanted and then shopped around until I found one in the right size that I was willing to pay for. It could have been any brand, it just so happened to be a Giant. How am I supposed to know what "feels right" until I have something to compare it to?

I guess that's it. Here's a video from a few weeks ago: