I started riding single track 27 years ago, with my last new ride being a 2004 Giant VT2 (I’ve been on an 8 year hiatus for bad reasons). Holy shit have bikes changed.
Fewer gears, bigger wheels, wider tires, infinitely better brakes, wider handlebars, shorter (nearly non existant) stems, internal cables, carbon frames (that are getting rather affordable), square frame tubes, dropper posts (/swoon)...to say I was overwhelmed when I started shopping would be an understatement.
I ended up choosing the above Trek for multiple reasons. Picked it up from the LBS after work this evening, and a quick spin on some gravel multi use trails later, I’m beyond thrilled. Can’t wait to spend this weekend reacquainting myself with the local single track networks and finding out how it handles some more technical terrain.
Granted, a lot of what I’m happy with would have existed on any bike (things related to my 14 year tech update). 29" wheels give zero fucks about small objects/obstacles/gaps. Hydraulic brakes are almost scary good (my old two finger grip quickly turned into an index finger-only finesse after finding out exactly how precise they are). I’m itching to get to the bottom of a steep descent, and return the seat to riding height with the flip of a lever, as opposed to stopping to fiddle with a quick release.
I quit a 22 year pack-a-day (or more) cigarette habit 4 months ago. Started logging daily miles on a stationary at the beginning of May, with plans to buy a bike if I’d stuck with training and enjoyed it. After hitting the trails this weekend with a few friends on an old borrowed spare hardtail, I realized how much better riding was when your lungs and heart worked properly (and how much I missed being in the woods). I started smoking at 16, and looking back now, I can see my cardio/aerobic deterioration from late teens to mid twenties, to early thirties. Christ, I was a moron.
TL/DR: Bikes are awesome, cigarettes are bad, thanks to functionoverfashion for the tag/post inspiration, and yay bourbon.