When I sold my trusty '98 Stumpjumper, in December 2008, I thought I'd soon be upgrading to some fancy new mountain-bike, with the latest and greatest technology. Well, that hasn't happened, and it may never, because of a number of factors that all played a role in making me question whether I even have a future in mountain-biking.
OK, first there's the whole issue of buying another expensive bike... one I'd use just rarely. But I do know what I'd get, roughly: A 29-inch-wheeler with full suspension (I've decided no more hard-tails), SRAM 20-speed drivetrain, and just an aluminum frame (no need for carbon-fiber). Tubeless tires would be nice too. What, maybe $3,000 to $4,000 total? Uh, maybe even more?
Lots of money for a bike I'd use... how often? All my training is on the road with my team-mates or while riding to work. Not on dirt where it's harder to pace yourself due to rough trails, or find enough long, smooth climbs. So, mostly just for racing then.
When we do well enough in mountain-bike races we eventually get our racing category upgraded. And in every mountain-bike race I know of the higher-category racers have to race longer. For me, as a sprinter, that is the kiss of death for my chances in races. When I was in "Sport" (now called Category 2), I usually did races that were about 1.5 to 2.5 hours long. But now as a "Cat 1" I not only have to race against faster guys, but race longer... a double-whammy! I am a sprinter, not a marathoner!
Unless I race short-track: Short, intense races rather like a dirt criterium. Now we're talking! But the only race in Nor Cal that I know of with a short-track event is Sea Otter Classic, and not every year either.
So... an expensive bike I'd use once a year or so.
Like I say, no future in mountain-biking for me.