Given H's research last weekend, we didn't exactly do our usual route (either backwards or forwards), but changed up some pieces here and there. We started out the same but when we had finished the [former] My Nemesis* climb, instead of staying straight at the four-way intersection to head to the bottom of Hammerhead*, we turned left to make our way out along Cammy's Trail to Rademan Ridge. We went down what H had gone up last weekend, landing at the bottom of the Sagebrush Switchbacks* of the backside of Rambler, then climbed up Rambler. At that point, we went down Rusty Shovel, which has some tight turns but also some beautifully banked corners - so if you aren't a chicken descender like I am, Rusty Shovel would be super-fun to ride down.
At this point we found our way back to Rambler (see, everything leads to Rambler) and went up as far as turn #8 of the Sweet Sixteen* switchbacks. I passed two other riders going up in this section AND managed to ride turn #6 for the first time ever since we've been riding this loop. Riding that turn had been my goal for the summer and I was psyched - now there's only one turn (#8) that I haven't been able to ride. New goal for next summer, I guess. At turn #8, we left Rambler for Highside and then Kari's, which brought us back to the top of the Practice Loop. While H did some extra climbing, I started riding out, now retracing the first bit of our ride. Despite riding further than I did, H made it back to the truck first ... because I had to stop to pat a couple of golden retrievers. (I always stop for golden retrievers.)
If that was truly our last MTB of the season - and we really, really hope it is because it needs to start snowing - then that was an excellent way to close things out. And I'm still psyched about riding turn #6!
* Apologies for using all these pet names for pieces of the trails. Since so much of our loop seems to be on the Rambler trail, we've taken to re-naming sections for our own identification. You certainly won't find "My Nemesis," "Hammerhead" or "Sweet Sixteen" on any Round Valley trail map.