We were still the walking wounded when we got up Sunday morning, legs and backs stiff and H's blistered feet very, very sore. We lurched through our morning, finishing up household chores, and then pulled out the MTB gear. H reinflated the tires and checked the chains; we found our helmets, gloves, shoes, shorts and spare tubes; and we headed to Park City in the early afternoon. As it moves more into summer, we'll go in the mornings because the afternoons will be too hot but this time of year is pleasant, cool in the mornings and only warm in the afternoons. We'd checked the trail conditions and determined that Round Valley was dry enough to ride (when we'd skied at PCMR and Deer Valley this winter, there was no visible snow on the MTB trails even then) - we only hoped that our legs and feet would be up for the challenge.
As we cruised down the paved rail-trail from our in-town parking lot to the dirt trailhead, H noticed the brisk tailwind. That would not bode well for the return. It was quite windy for the whole day, switching from headwind to tailwind to crosswind depending on the twists and turns of the trail. We rode our regular loop and I was surprised that there were not more folks out on the trails; we ran into (not literally) a couple other duos and groups, but not the hordes we'd found on our first ride last year.
I always get a little nervous on my first day back on the bike or the skis and I was again this time, but it all came back to me pretty quickly as I remembered to keep my elbows wide (except for on the climbs), to keep my eyes looking ahead and to shift my weight. My legs were not conditioned enough yet to stay out of the saddle as much as I was supposed to, and I was overly cautious on the downhill portions. But I managed to ride up My Nemesis, which I hadn't expected to do, and I rode a downhill, right-turning, rocky corner on which I usually put my foot down, so that was confidence-boosting. I didn't ride as many of the uphill Sweet Sixteen switchbacks as I was doing by the end of last season but I attribute that to tired legs from the prior day's hike. Most impressively, H rode all the way up Hammerhead Hill (please note: these are all our own personal names for these features and are not found on any maps anywhere) which is a massive feat - I can barely push my MTB up that hill, much less ride it.
The return on the paved rail trail was, as I expected, a slog into the wind. We were feeling pretty good when we got back to the truck, though, because no crashes! and H's blisters hadn't bothered him on the bike at all. We did 18.7 miles (slightly less than our normal route because we missed the Nouvelle Loop due to trail changes/improvements) with an average speed of 9.5 m.p.h. That's not fast - but it's faster than our first day back on the trails last year, so we were proud of that especially in view of stiff legs and the blustery conditions. We finished out our Park City expedition with beers and snacks in the PCMR parking lot, perched on a wall and gazing up at the ski mountain. As much as we love skiing, it is always great to get back on the bikes.