We have just returned from Scottsdale, Arizona, after exciting new experiences and great riding. It was the first ISC training camp in Arizona and we think it was a great success overall - the beginning of a new tradition here in the US and the continuation of a riding tradition that Alessandro grew up with.
But let's start at the beginning. We had been planning the training camp for a few months and were very happy that we got together a nice group of 8 guinea-pigs, uuhm, riders I mean. The camp started on December 10th when everyone arrived in Scottsdale. Pick-up at the airport was not a difficult task as the Phoenix airport is located just about 20 minutes from the hotel. The accommodations were in the Homewood Suites by Hilton, a hotel we have come to like during the racing season quite a bit, as it offers a small kitchen unit and a living room in addition to the bedroom. This allows for easy bike storage in the room and still space to turn around. We also really like the fact that everyone has a fridge and kitchen area, so special food requirements can be easily met.
On Saturday evening everyone got together for a nice dish of pasta prepared by us, along with salad, cheese and wine. We were very lucky, as Nate Archibald, one of the riders, is a wine importer (Bayfield Importing) and had kindly brought along two cases of wine for to make our dining experience even more enjoyable. We can highly recommend the selections that Nate has made and we felt very fortunate to have such a knowledgeable wine connoisseur among us. Grazie, Nate.
The first ride was to Mt. Lemmon on Sunday. Due to the weather, it was the only day that it was likely to make it all the way up to the cookie place. Indeed, at about 6000 ft of elevation, the road was lined by snow. A beautiful sight. The higher we got, the colder it got too. The fireplace was a very welcomed sight once we made it to the cookie place. Luckily we were all well prepared and had enough extra clothes with us for the descent. And what a descent it is. About 45 minutes of pure joy.
Unfortunately, on Monday, rain decided to interfere with our riding plans. Some of us were brave enough to go out, but after about 1.5 hours some fingers were numb and feet were cold, so we returned to the hotel. But we don't let our day be spoiled by the weather, so we went to a very nice Mexican restaurant in Carefree, AZ.
Tuesday brought more rain in the morning and we started out the ride in the rain. But, we were lucky and the weather eased up a bit an hour into the ride and the sun even came out for a while. We explored McDowell State Park and then started our ride home along a 9 mile popular climb. At the very end of the climb the rain returned. We stopped at a gas station to regroup and fix our 4th and 5th flat of the day. The rain was really taking a toll on the tubes. Once all the flats were fixed, we finished our ride in the rain.
The rest of the week we rode to Bartlett Lake, Saguaro Lake and to Tortilla Flats and enjoyed the beautiful and always-changing landscape of the surrounding area of Scottsdale. Arizona is really an incredible state with so many different "faces" depending on which direction you choose to go.
The training camp ended the following Saturday, but it left us only with the desire to explore Arizona even further. Alessandro knows quite well Arizona and he already has a multitude of new ideas for the new year and the next camps, so we can't wait to get started.
To give you a taste of what we saw and experienced, please take a look at the amazing photos below. These were taken by Phil Penman, a professional photographer (by the way you can read his post-camp story in nyvelocity.com), and we are very grateful to him for sharing these pictures with us. Particularly because we think that pictures are worth a thousand words. Grazie, Phil.