Wow, I missed this a few weeks back, sorry.
29" bikes over 26" bikes, my buddies are moving from their dual 26" to hard tail 29". Yea, 29" have been around now for a few years, but seems people were waiting to see where they were going, etc.
Besides that, component wise heck my XTR group from 1998 still holds its own, sure its 8-sp and V-Brakes, but I've rode with people who have newer gear, its the body not the gear once you are at a certain level. Of course in mud disc brakes can't be beat.
One thing, back in 1998 almost nobody had personal coaches, now lots of people do, the www made that a reality. It's a revenue stream for the coaches, those pro guys who travel 9-10 months/year, and it does motivate and improve the people who use them, so I'd say they are faster because they really do train better.
Honestly though, almost everyone who really challenges themself reaches a level where all the 1st/2nd/3rd place trophies/medals start to pile up in a box.....and when they reach a podium at big event realize....ok, now what? And move onto other stuff, seen it countless times, happened to me.
I still ride for fun of course, but priorities shift as life stage shifts.
I'll make the move to 29" when my 1998 XTR gear totally dies and I can't replace the Ti rear cogs or chain anymore....besides that its pretty bullet proof.
Nice drawing, and a fellow nite owl, cool.
How long you been viewing/shooting the heavens above?
Are you active in any astronomy clubs?
I've shoot only widefield Jan-2010 thru now, but July-2011 I got my 1st scope, a 8" SCT, the EdgeHD 800 CGEM.
My widefield work can be seen here http://photography-on-the.net/forum/...d.php?t=838078
btw, 3 days ago my NASA APOD Aug-5-2011 got me interviewed by local newspaper, Livingston Press and Argus, I was front page for Sept-28-2011!
Word quickly spread at work, my facebook friends, etc....14 minutes and 58 seconds of fame gone, 2 seconds left.