It was pretty windy (of course), sunny and cool for our return. It wasn't too crowded, with the busiest section being the Rambler sage brush switchbacks, and we figure we saw more dogs than MTBers out there. Lots of dogs, all off leash and all pretty well behaved around MTBers. At one point, as we were going up the Sweet Sixteen, I had a scruffy wolfhound-ish-looking dog running with me, patiently trotting alongside my rear wheel.
In our absence, the trail crew has been doing some maintenance work on the trails, smoothing out ruts and, in the case of the front side of Rambler (a/k/a our Sweet Sixteen), rerouting the trail entirely to put in wider, banked turns. H didn't think the new trail sections made that much difference but I thought they made the climb easier. I also made a huge breakthrough on lower Sweet Sixteen, finally riding one switchback that I have never been able to ride before. For some reason, as I came up to that turn, my legs felt good and I thought, "I'm pretty sure I can ride that," and then I did. There was no one around to witness my triumph but I was stoked. Of course, now I have no excuse for walking that one ever again.
We wrapped up our ride with a strong headwind and drank our beers, squinting in the sun. It was a great ride - I felt really good about my climbing although my downhill technique was dismal - but surely, surely we will be able to put our MTBs away now and get our skis tuned up. Surely winter is coming soon.