My buddy Jesus and I did a little basement cleaning. I parted with a 9 speed Ultegra group, stem and bar, some old Ksyriums and a little cash, in return I picked up a set of kids skis and a full suspension MTB.
It's a Univega Dual Team, not sure of the age, but it has 8 speed Deore XT derailleurs, Avid V brakes, SRAM Attack grip shifters, White Brothers Fork and Fox Alp 4 rear shock. I took it for a ride today in Wampatuck State Forest, which is about 2 miles from my house for about an hour. I don't have MTB shoes yet so I threw on an old set of Speedplay's and used my old road shoes. It rained all week so streams were overflowing (went through water that was probably 6 inches deep, over rocks, mud, leaves, fallen branches etc. I didn't spend too much time off the beaten path, but I can certainly see the training benefits of training off road this winter. A) It's fun and much warmer in the woods. B) It can't help but improve bike handling skills. And C) it's a great cardio workout, constantly spinning, sprinting and climbing out of the saddle.
My only prior MTB riding was on a rigid bike and I can't help but notice how comfortable the full suspension is. Not only that, but it really hugs the trail. It's going to be a fun winter after all. Now I have to learn all about MTB tech, so I can start a Dirty Techs Mechs column.