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I happily seek out chunky, steep, black terrain on my 120mm hardtail. Misery is flat, pedaly, hardpacked, gopher-pocked chatterfests, where I'd like to be seated, but it's like my saddle is bolted to a jackhammer.
Yes, that's exactly what my experience was and you describe it well. The flat but punishing sections helped me determine damn quickly that a FS bike was the next move.
 

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After owning a few HT’s over the years which all were far from top shelf, I went to the road for a few years, spent way too much, and now at 61 years old and fighting cancer (in remission), I bike for fitness. Living in Maine I needed to get around in the winter so now my Growler is the bike I ride year round. I’m not overbiked by any stretch but I can see the allure. as others have said. Have fun. Stay fit.
Nailed it. I ride mountain bikes, simply because it's fun. And good therapy for injuries, as long as you don't go stupid, & inflict more :) A bit of fitness gained along the way is just a bonus. Life is short, enjoy what you can. Another motorcycle saying I try & live by, the journey is just as important as the destination.
 
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