I wasn't even going to post, but I keep re-riding it in my mind and I decided it was worth mentioning for various reasons.

I was looking for a route to connect a couple local parks without doing too much road. I've been riding indoors this Winter so I actually felt pretty good, if not a little slow. This first outing was somewhat of a season opener shakedown for me and my Nimble 9.

Out of the lot with a ~15mph headwind. Ha! I laugh at headwinds. Anyway, it was all flat.
The turn-off, and first road I was looking for was a bit farther than I'd figured. No prob. I got lotsa time.

My recently re-tensioned rear wheel was already loosening up and I heard at least a handfull of spokes rubbing against eachother. The rim was so tweaked, but I thought I could get a couple hundred more miles out of it. It would hafta hold. I'm taking my chances and going forward. The weather is nice enough that if I had to walk or wait for a ride it would probably actually be enjoyable.

At that first turn is the first real hill. Not long. I decided I was not getting out of the middle ring. In fact, I wasn't shifting below the 4th cog. No prob. (although it still felt like early season hill climbing)
Then I found my second turn. It was closer than I'd figured.
After passing at least 3 nondescript trails, I got to the end of the road and there's the "No Bikes" sign reminding me of how bike-unfriendly the local park system was. No prob. - I'm finding an alternate route.

"Service Vehicles Only" - wellllll.... I see people walking and playing through the trees so I persuade myself that it's OK for bikes. At least I'm on dirt now. However, it is revealed that they are on the other side of the river. My only route is up. I mean really, really up. Not long. I drop to the granny gear, 2nd cog and plant my rear tire. "The indoor riding must be working", I thought, because the hill disappeared under/behind me.

Up top I'm back in the middle ring and I get a good view of the gorge, but the trail turns into a network of short stairs, both up and down along the gorge wall. "No prob" I say convincingly to myself. I ride them all with no dabs, and only hit one railing (not a dab!).
A short, level respite with dramatic views, then I have to carry - about 100 steps in 5 or 6 flights.

Anyway, finally alllll the way up top I get to my destination. I was kinda "meh" on the whole thing, so I headed back looking for an alternate.
None to be found, so I ride down the ~100 steps - eyeballs rattling in my skull, and back through the "stair network" clean (twice in one day!? effin A right twice in one day!). At that, I'm feeling heroic. Now I'm looking for stuff to challenge myself.

Back out to the road and I wander back to pick up one of the nondescript trails - a short out-and-back with some fun little whoops, then across the road to a holy hell that's the steepest hill I've seen in years (This is where IMBA-style trails are kinda limited). I'm on a power line service road that has been employed as a "trail", and probably the only wheeled vehicles to use it are 4-wheelers. I am intimidated at the mere sight of the steep, gravelly hill but I am going to try. Granny gear, 2nd cog.
Around the first curve I can see that I am going to burn out before the top in 2nd cog, so I bail to 22x32 and go for broke. Everything was working and I just planted that rear tire and "settled" into a "rhythm" as I wove back and forth searching for anything that looked like traction. Before I knew it I was up top again, heading back to the gorge. Eventually I was back at the stairs and figured my luck was spent so I turned around again and headed back out.

I still had two more of those wicked-steep climbs and a road climb so, since it was getting late (and the parks were emptying out already), I opted to sneak through one of the other bike-unfriendly parks to "shave" a good 4 miles off the return trip with about a mile downhill.

The wheel held together but was making all sorts of strange creaking spoke-loosening noises.
My legs held together. No noises to speak of.
Early season status: GOOD

-F