This is my bike - a 2004 Giant VT2. Well, one like my bike. Mine is a lot more, um, worn. You know with all of the gouges and scratches and dents. The only significant things I have changed include replacing the spring in the fork with the heavy duty version and replacing the whole drive-train with XT/XTR components. Probably the most positive changes came from 1) the XT Hollowcrank II, 2) a nice 1.9" Kenda rear tire and 2.2" Panaracer Cinder front (both of these made the bike seem pounds lighter) and 3) finally getting the pressure sorted out for the rear shock (the rear is a SPV and getting it to stop the crazy bobbing uphill really helps).
I have lived here a few years but am constantly amazed at the miles and miles of trails we have access to here in CT. And the great thing is that we have the quantity and quality. The conditions (roots, rocks and mud) are a joy to behold. You know, it's a bit silly and sacrilegious, but when we went on our trip to Moab to ride slickrock it was a bit of a letdown. Yeah, it was technically challenging, but it was challenging in the broad brushstrokes (can you make it up that steep hill with the three switchbacks or can you avoid riding off the thousand foot cliff). Riding on the trails we ride on in CT is a lot more like downhill where it is challenging on a much more compressed scale (can you miss that tree right there and if you can, what about that tree? How about while you are missing those, what about that pile of rocks and if you miss that what about that rock ledge over there?) Totally sweet. It is so awesome when you don't die. Makes you just want to have another go.