Ground Effect cycle clobber is constructed from a range of technical fabrics mixed and matched to (depending on conditions) keep you warm or cool, repel wind and rain, deal to sweat, minimise odours, and look sharp (always).
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.