Blog

Fear And Loathing In The Desert

 

“In a city filled with Collagen lips, Botoxed faces, and fake boobs. You could use a little real.”
While watching Football this was a commercial that made me take notice. It’s a bit of a pisstake from a local dealership, but I think there’s some truth in how Scottsdale perceives itself. Where I’m from, the hippie/hipster commune called Victoria, there’s a different take on what is “real.” In Vic, real is this emphasis on local, natural, and 30km/h speed limits…everywhere. It’s a slower way of life, where in a single bike ride you can experience over 100 inches of rain and an equal number of dispensaries.

 

 

“It’s just, like…real here, man!”

 

 

But who’s to say that the Victoria version of what’s “real” is better or more virtuous than other places. Everywhere has its unique vibe. It’s important to be able to acknowledge that and try to grasp the underlying reasons of how the culture of a place develops.

 

 

For someone like myself, who is very used to cycling as a main form of transportation on these training camps, I found I was turned off by how critical it was to own a car to get around in Scottsdale. Some quick research on Wikipedia gave a bit of context,

 

 

“Phoenix-Metro is a city of 4.3 million people…but has a very low population density which explains the extensive sprawl…In Phoenix, real estate developers face few constraints when planning and developing new projects.”

 

 

plane-sprawl

 

 

So if regulations are low, land is plentiful/relatively cheap and demand is high (at least for half of the year) then there’s a good chance sprawl will follow.

 

 

Alright, so Scottsdale might not be a place I’d want to live forever. But it was pretty great to be there for a few weeks in January. Our coach, Jonathan Hall spent a number of years there and used his local knowledge to set up a really solid training environment. I was keen to make the most of a great opportunity. Really build some solid fitness. Challenge myself, both physically and mentally to be the best I could be. In a way I’d have to train insane, or remain the same.

 

 

man-cold

 

 

Ah, shit.

 

 

In the first week I picked up the man cold. Yes, it’s a thing! I had to deal with that for a couple of days, but it inspired me to write a guide on how to deal with a man cold, should you also suffer this terrible ailment.

 

 

Once I recovered I was able to resume training and spend some time on a new bike.

 

 

matt-sharpe-Norco-Tactic

 

 

It’s the 2016 Norco Tactic SL disc from Oak Bay Bikes.

 

 

Thanks Oak Bay Bikes, its the #BestBikeEVAAAA!

 

 

Actually it’s not the best bike ever, and I can’t stand it when people post that stuff. But I had a blast for the month I spent riding it. It was my first time experiencing disc brakes, like ever. I was told that they have at least five times the stopping power as standard cantilever brakes. Knowing the wheels were way less likely to lock up gave me a new level of confidence heading into the corners. That was pretty sick.

 

I’m not really the guy who’s going to get too heavy into the technical details, luckily the bike was thoroughly reviewed by Canadian Cyclist in last month’s issue.

 

I had a fair number of people comment on the bike; they seemed to really like the look of it. Of course when I would tell them it was a Norco they would kind of give me this look like, “Nor…wha?” Which is totally understandable. If you’re not from the West Coast or into Mountain Biking than it’s pretty unlikely you’ve come across one. It had a clean finish, the latest hardware and a user interface highlighted by simplicity of the thru axle. Kind of like if Apple designed a bike.

rodeo-bike

I was able to put the machine through its paces and it performed well when demanded. Efforts, a few long spins in the desert, and even as a grocery commuter when I was desperate.

cactus-bike

grocery-commuter

I’ll miss it, but I’m sure someone will love it just as much as I did. Seriously though I’d recommend giving the bike a spin and having a go on that one technical section you really want to nail!

 

 

At the end of the training camp I definitely felt like it was mission accomplished. I was healthy and hungry for more. Of course I say that know with the knowledge I’ll actually be going down again next week! (editors note: I’m here now). We have an opportunity to compete at the Tritonman Triathlon in San Diego. I’m sure after my experience in my first race last year, when I had my head down, hit a cone and flew over the handlebars that it’ll help me at least clear out some of the winter cobwebs.

 

Until next time.