This morning, Chad Beyer is shuffling among his other semi-awake teammates through a remote desert eco-home on the western slopes of the Tucson Mountains, sipping cappuccino and swallowing some last gulps of oatmeal before the team heads out for a four-hour training ride.
"I'm really excited about racing with this group of guys," Beyer says as his slender frame sinks into a sofa in the main room. "We're set up on these amazing Pinarello bikes and supported by experienced people like Gord Fraser. It's great."
Beyer still spends regular time in the Phoenix area, visiting his mother and friends every few weeks as he is able during the off season. He even took home a race win in last month's Bicycle Haus Criterium, getting in an early top result before the season kicked off.
To many familiar with pro cycling, Beyer's move from the Pro Tour ranks of Team BMC, the team of last year's Tour de France champion Cadel Evans, to his current US-based club may seem like a step backwards, but there is no questioning Beyer's enthusiasm to be riding regularly back in the States with a distinct chance to win consistently.
"Chad's now a much bigger fish in a smaller pond," says Fraser, Competitive Cyclist's director sportif and long-time Tucson resident. "There's no doubt he's got experience and talent, but now he has the chance to go from surviving races in Europe to being a protagonist here."
Beyer, a natural climber, is not coming to an empty team either. The Competitive Cyclist squad is captained by former Spanish national champion Francisco "Paco" Mancebo, and filled with other top riders such as Columbian climber Cesar Grajales and sprinter Cole House. Fraser hopes cyclists and cycling fans across the state can identify with his talented club.
"By having this camp here in Tucson and featuring Chad as one of our leaders, we really hope that Competitive Cyclist can become Arizona's home team. Like Chad, we want to have roots here."
Beyer's roots planted in Arizona when his family moved to Peoria in 1996. Like most other 10-year-olds, the warm weather and open areas called him outside where he quickly found himself spending the days riding BMX.
"I was a total shop rat, just hanging out and soaking it up" says Beyer. "My friends and I would ride to just see how far we could get. Our longest was about 20 miles, between 3rd and Bell to around Arrowhead Mall."
This love of riding led him to the larger wheels and gears of road and mountain bikes by the time he was 12. His talent was obvious to several in the local community, but Valley cycling legend Domenic Malvestuto was the one who took Chad under his wing.
"Domenic would go out of his way to teach me. At first I couldn't figure out why he would ride really close to me, but I soon realized it was to get me comfortable on group rides. He was the first to explain race tactics to me."