I was a little worried that I wouldn't be able to do our whole loop because I was really pretty slow when we started out; H even waited for me before we started in on the singletrack section to see if I wanted to reroute and do a shorter ride. No! I can do it! And, in fact, by the time I'd muscled my way up My Nemesis I was feeling better. H was also feeling pretty good and conquered Hammerhead/Pladsen Hill yet again, going four for four so far this season.
Finishing the Sweet Sixteen switchbacks
We saw hardly any people on the first half of our ride but once we got to the Practice/Nouvelle Loop section the traffic picked up, although it never got as busy as the last two Sundays - maybe because this was the first Park Silly of the summer. I managed to do the Sweet Sixteen switchbacks with only walking three of them and counted that a raging success; I also managed to beat H by just over a minute in our race section - he got held up by several other MTBers (and also thinks that maybe the rerouted trail is longer than it was last year, when I never beat him - I'm not convinced). One of these days I'm going to follow H back on the dirt trail, when I have enough legs to do it, but until that time, I hope I keep beating him.
The headwind on the return uphill paved slog back to the truck was awful - even H commented on one of the gusts. I persevered and made it back - legs very stiff and sore at that point - and we stopped again on our spot on Guardsman Pass for beers and snacks before heading home. It does frustrate me that running one 8k race takes so much out of me ... but I got back on the bike and shook out the cobwebs and am all the happier for it.