It's always pretty scary when I get my mountain bike ready for the winter. To say I neglect it would be a bit of an understatement. It really borders on abuse. If there were an ASPCMB (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Mountain Bikes), my picture would be on their wall for sure.
I originally bought my mountain bike with one purpose in mind -- winter commuting. I figured those big fat tires would give me a leg up in snowy and icy conditions. And with those 26" wheels, I had one inch less to fall. Sure, I do occasionally ride it off road, but basically it gets ridden in the winter when there's snow, salt and sand on the road. A combination that does not do good things for components. During the season I tend not bother much about it, since it is usually so cruddy and slimy that I don't really want to touch it, and I'm usually just glad to have made it home alive. No point in cleaning it up when it's going to get just as cruddy the next day.
So my maintenance schedule tends to be annual rather than daily. And it wouldn't have even been graced with this attention if I didn't have another reason to work on it. I had bought some cow horns, or whatever you call those things that you stick on the handlebars to give you more positions, etc. I'm not sure why, but I decided it was time my mountain bike had some. I guess I just wanted to be a Way Cool Dude. In the course of putting these on, I noticed several interesting new features. While it was still barely possible to move the thumb shifters, this was largely a placebo effect, since their position bore no relation to the actual movement of the derailleurs. The chain was pretty much as bad as I'd ever seen (and I've seen some bad ones). It has some permanent kinks, the kind that usually cause skipping. This problem was avoided by the fact that the derailleur pulleys were largely non-existent, thereby avoiding the annoying skipping as a chain with rigor mortis tries to make its way around them. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm pretty sure you're not supposed to be able to see through a derailleur pulley. So instead of the chain jumping off the pulley when it got to the stiff part, it just sort of pushed what was left of the pulley out of the way. I was happy to discover that the front brake worked more or less as intended. The rear one required a Herculean effort to move it, which usually means that once set, it will remain set (sort of an automatic parking brake), but in this case it seemed to release somehow. The bottom bracket had only moderate play, wouldn't need to touch that for another year.
The spokes on both wheels had rusted solid ever since the first year, when I left it after the last ride of the season without bothering to hose off the salt. Miraculously, I have yet to break one of these rusty spokes. I think of it an as anti-theft device -- you have to be pretty desperate to want to make off with my mountain bike.