Okay... I recently started doing Adventure Races (off-road biking + running + kayaking) and realized after my first one that my Schwinn from Target isn't going to cut it. The races are typically 12-16 miles of semi-technical single track. (lots of climbing, some logs, creek crosses, etc) But since I'm still beginning, I wanted something on a budget in case it I get bored and it starts collecting dust 6 months from now.
I picked up an '03 Diamondback Topanga for a great price and based on a little research determined that it was a decent intermediate frame to start with. Right now it rides pretty well, but I want to put a few bucks into upgrading the performance. (It looks like it was probably outfitted for retail at a Dick's or something.)
Based on my setup below, can anyone suggest what I should upgrade that will produce the biggest bang for my buck? Front derailleur? Rear? Brakes? Headset? Shocks? I can post some close-ups of the components if that helps.
'03 Diamondback Topanga
Shimano Altus Brake Level/Shifter combo
Shimano Crankset (model?)
Shimano Alivio Rear Derailleur
(brand/model?) Front Derailleur
Weinmann ZAC-19 Double Wall Rims
Kenda Kinentics Tires
(brand/model?) seat post & headset
TekTro Front/Rear brakes (model?)