first - the shorter days suck. second - Panaracer Ciders are surprisingly good tires. Lots of bite, stiff, strong lugs hold well on off cambur roots and such. If they are even decent in wet condition, they will definitely beat out my Conti Verticals as an all-around tire. They are a bit heavier, but much more sturdy... and I bet they will prove to be more durable than the Contis as well, but only time will tell on that one. thrird - everyone needs a road bike. I don't care if it's boring as hell to you, it will make immediate and dramatic improvements in your mountain bike riding. OK, if you're an accomplished racer, this might not be the case... but for most of us, a road bike is a great training tool. I can't believe how much stronger I feel on the trail and how much better I am out of the saddle after a short time with my road bike. I was doing things in my middle ring/middle cog that I normally do in my granny/big cog. A HUUUUGE difference.