As miserable as I felt, I had been worse before. Yeah, it was hot. I was thirsty. But I was healthy. The bike was working well enough. Even if I didn’t find water, I had drunk enough to live for a few more hours. Dire, yes. But not DIRE. Nevertheless, I contemplated looking for a shady tree to die under.
A surprisingly relaxed group of bikepackers sat around tables eating, drinking, swapping stories. The start of the 2016 Smoke N Fire was just hours away. Rain was in the forecast. But nobody seemed too worked up about it. The mood helped me relax. 470 miles of unknown dirt was in the immediate future. What was there to be nervous about?