We picked up the pace as the sun began to set, wanting to get as far as we could before setting up camp for the night. Rolling on into the deepening darkness of the Utah desert, we kept one eye on the trail and one eye out for a spot to spend the night.

It was sometime after dark when finally, and thankfully, a flat tire brought us to a halt. We threw on our lights, and Cort began to walk it out while I forged ahead in search of the best spot.

Wandering around the vast rock surface, our paths led us out to the edge of the mesa where my light-beam struck a pillar of rock floating out in the darkness. Upon further investigation, we found the ledge.

The desert formation was perfectly suited for two loaded bikes and two tired travelers. Letting go of all expectations and following the cues along the way is the type of riding that has led us to this spot, and we could not have landed here any other way. We embraced that unknown and set up camp.

"Out on the edge of the mesa my light-beam struck a pillar of rock floating out in the darkness. Upon further investigation, we found the ledge."

The likelihood of this adventure was just as probable as the ledge itself. After wrapping up a long demo weekend in Hurricane, we headed out for a shop ride with Quentin at Over the Edge—he wanted to show us a lesser-known zone and we were happy to oblige.

Out on the trail, among the pinion, juniper, and gooseberry, and throughout the sandstone and conglomerate were petroglyphs and Anasazi camp remains. Aside the meandering, flowing, and oftentimes extremely technical trail, these natural and historical relics consumed my attention.

With a little insight about the fragility of the ecosystem and the historical and cultural importance of the area, Quentin cracked open the door of my imagination and I was fully captivated.

After the shop ride, I turned the van around and drove right back there, and met up with my good friend Cort, who just happened to be in the area, later that night. He joined me on the mesa and we schemed up a plan for an overnighter. As we set out, we had no real agenda. Where to start was the only plan we needed.

"I’d say we’ll be back to the ledge, but you just can’t plan a ride like this—you can only get on the bike and see where it takes you next."

The morning sun cracked the horizon to shed some light on our situation, and we were awakened to the true spectacle that was our campsite. Literally living on the edge, the campsite was just feet from a distinct vertical relief—perfectly perched on the edge of the mesa with mind-bending vistas of adjacent mesas and snow-capped peaks keeping a watchful eye over us. It was a most profound morning.

With dawn came coffee. One of the things I love most about bikepacking is having coffee in some of the coolest places you could ever imagine. From that ledge, we brewed up a memorable cup and readied our gear to hit the trail.

The wet spring had thrown everything into bloom and given the slick rock just enough slip to slide. Riding along the desert features, we experienced a healthy mix of flowy, choose-your-own-adventure slick rock and mesa’s-edge, do-not-go-over-there trail. There were just enough twists and turns to provide surprise around every corner and prove that the Hayduke takes best to whatever is in front of it. The lunar landscape of the mesa was a blast, providing plenty of ledges, troughs, and flow to lean into.

Riding around these towers of ancient seabed, I couldn’t help but reflect on our surroundings. While mesa riding, it’s easy to feel like you’re on any other trail—until you come around a corner and are confronted with the reality of your location atop another massive platform in the sky.

As we pedal on through Utah’s desert backcountry, fully-loaded riding begins to feel comfortable—even desirable—once again. Crawling up rocks and floating down singletrack with perfectly balanced traction-to-momentum ratios, these bikes bring a whole new level of fun to our adventure and the meandering trails out on the mesa always prove to be the perfect playground.

Without extra room for the luxuries, day-to-day essentials are all we consider. Water, food, and beer—adventure biking done right. Eat, ride, sleep, repeat.

I’ve come to love these simple overnight missions. To borrow a term from a good friend, it’s “bite-sized bikepacking”, and it can be a great way to introduce someone to longer rides, or to get outside when time is limited.

The ledge, the desert, and the riding—it was a rare find, and a gentle reminder of what draws me out on these adventures time and again. I’d say we’ll be back to the ledge, but you just can’t plan a ride like this—you can only get on the bike and see where it takes you next.