I'm not trying to spend your money, but it seems to me that as much as 2 grand is a real money to risk on a sport that you haven't done for 25 yrs. Try looking a Preformance - they are mail order and brick and mortar - almost as numerous as Starbucks. The Access 9.7 is totally respectable at a little over a grand, and sometimes less on sale. They also cary the Fuji Tahoe and the GT askar 9r. Or the Sette Razzo from Pricepoint. Okay, that is mail order, but the headquarters are in the L.A. area so kind of local and the bike is rather nice. The cyclocross bike is another good idea. With a mountain bike you'll be dragging the suspension fork back and forth with no real benefit (unless you go full rigid). Or something in between like the Cannondale Bad Boy Disc.
On the other hand, if you are the type that who just likes to have the best - testify, brother! I can relate. Both are fine bikes. Lots of other nice bikes in this range. Specialized Stumpjumper Comp 29, Niner EMD9 (depends on the parts mix), Giant XtC 29 2, Cannondale Flash 3, Felt Nine (but there's a bit of a gap between the Race and the Comp), Kona Big Kahuna, Marin Nail Trail and Pine Mountain, Haro Mary, Redline D660, blah, blah, blah - to many to name. My hand is cramping. Anyway, ride them all and find out which one you like. Or, if you really like the Fishers and you like the shop, just buy it and ride it - a much better use of your time. And keep the off road tires for the times you're ridin' dirty. If you find you are changing over too much then invest in a second set of wheels.
And don't forget there is a price for all this free advice: you must post up (pictures) once the bike is ready.:thumbsup: