Bike

DISPERSED GRATIFICATION

We had a decision to make, and nobody wanted to make it.

Minutes earlier, we’d rolled into the Pilot Travel Center, our streams of warm breath cutting contrails through the brisk air, illuminated by beams from our bar-mounted lights and the headlights of cars barreling west on Highway 40. We’d been damp most of the day, ever since a steady drizzle fell on us hours earlier on the Sycamore Rim trail, and now, just after sundown, that dampness was haunting us at 7,100 feet above sea level where fall flirted with winter. Temperatures were already in the 40s; it would dip below 30 that night.

The Day’s Inn was right there. There were rooms. They were cheap. It’d be so easy to bail.

We avoided the topic as we clopped around the truck-stop convenience store like zombies searching for sustenance in the daylight, grabbing blindly at meat sticks, candy bars and greasy roller dogs.

At this point, 30 miles into a 40-mile penultimate day and 200+ miles into a monster route, a warm shower, real bed and continental breakfast beckoned, but forging ahead, even gaining 5 more miles toward the next day’s goal of reaching the route’s apex, where the Coconino Loop re-joined the Arizona Trail at nearly 9,000 feet, would allow us to savor a glorious singletrack descent back into Flagstaff all in one shot.

We grappled with the decision. What if we stayed at the hotel and committed to getting on the trail by 5 a.m.? Could we? Would we? We shuffled around the store some more, consumed by our indecisiveness, eyes darting around the shelves for more desperately needed calories.

The whole point of this trip was to see if bikepacking could actually be enjoyable. Our crew—myself, Whistler-based photographer Robin O’Neill, her partner Chris Clark and Sarah Rawley, longtime Yeti Cycles’ ambassador,

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