In the pre-historic early 90's, front suspension (all 50mm of it) was an exotic upgrade to your bike. Consequently the primary aid for tackling rough ground was a pre-ride dose of Rage Against the Machine, a firm grasp on your hex-foam grips and a surge of adrenaline.
'Root infested hell track' or 'technical bliss'... individual perceptions affect the way we each view different terrain. When you discover a new track that looks way scary but obviously has been ridden by others, then one day you too should be able to ride it with confidence.
Good off-road etiquette is clearly in the best interests of mountain bikers both as a group and as individuals - reducing track wear 'n' tear, bypassing damage to yourself or others, maintaining good humour amongst various user groups, and continued access to appropriate shared-use tracks like the Queen Charlotte and the Heaphy.
Over the past few years the American magazines have been peppered with articles by knarly old buggers romancing the single-speed mountain bike. I was finally seduced last winter and opted to join the fray. My favourite tracks had lost a little of their thrill of late and I was keen to spice them up.
Mountain biking is a blast - enjoyable at a whole range of different levels of intensity and difficulty. Regretfully, bicycles are mostly designed and spec'd for testosterone-laden lads - generally bigger, heavier and more gung-ho than those on the other side of the gender divide. However, most brands sport models with women's specific geometry and components... and a paint job to make you feel special! It's also possible to tweak a standard bike to suit women equally well.