Words by Travis Dixon, photos by Angelica Dixon
PEZ was recently invited for a visit by Bespoke Inn owners Rob Taynton & Kate Hennen. An inn with a vision to cater to cyclists? Absolutely! We first checked out their website which offered all the info we needed, but after a quick road trip to Scottsdale, we learned that there was so much more to this boutique inn.
We arrived Friday, to find Bespoke in mid afternoon transition. From the street, the architecture fit with most of Scottsdale but upon entering the courtyard we were presented with the unique atmosphere that is Bespoke. We were pleased to find a sticky note on the office door stating, ‘we’re in the bike shop!’ This was a working establishment and we didn’t want to cause any disturbance to their daily routine, so that they were in the bike shop was perfect.
We found Rob, as the sticky stated, who immediately made us feel welcome. Rob’s shop is a throw back to an era when the owner wrenched and sold the gear. It’s refreshing to see, when most of us are used to an ever increasing number of bike superstores filled with the latest carbon bling. The Bespoke shop presents fillet brazed, tig welded and lugged steel, aluminum, Ti, and yes, even carbon. We hit it off immediately, and we ‘geeked out’ for a while.
The X-ray is of Rob’s shoulder after a cycling crash.
With much effort, we were able to drag ourselves out of the shop so Rob could show us around Bespoke. He explained how each room took on its own flavor, and the thought process involved, and we quickly realized the unique details in each room is was what Bespoke is really about. There is so much detail and thought that permeates the place, it left us feeling like part of someone’s environment, and in this case, Rob and Kate’s.
While Rob showed us upstairs to our suite, Kate was taking fresh chocolate-chip cookies and granola out of the oven. After taking care of the other guests, she was ready to hang out. As with Rob, Kate is immediately engaging and she shared the inn’s stories of challenges, mixed with hilarious anecdotes, which spoke to the personal growth that a process like this creates – you either learn how to roll with the punches or you check out all together.
This really gave us the opportunity to appreciate their vision and how Bespoke came to be. They carefully balance running the continuous flow of the inn, with their love for meeting new guests. Bespoke opened its doors just over a year ago and they wanted cyclists to come and use what they could offer them.
We arrived in our room to find that Rob had prepared two mussette bags, loaded with water bottles, a multi tool, gels, bars, blocks … all the necessities for hard riding. Very cool. It’s set up for cyclists; fresh coffee and a stocked fridge to get you going for a solid morning ride to return to a brunch that has a menu packed with the desired refueling foods, a bike shop on the premise with an experienced wrench (Rob).
As good food is another important part of the inn’s experience, a restaurant is tied to Bespoke. Gio is the chef for Virtu’, and this restaurant is his baby. There is a symmetry between the three of them – they have all worked hard through their careers and reached a point where they wanted to take control and create something for themselves. The Bespoke website lists the numerous awards and positive reviews already received. Tomorrow would allow brunch, but tonight was dinner, and it was truly a great experience.
The atmosphere was inviting and lacking in pretense, despite the gourmet meals presented. I am in no way a food critic, and in thinking of PEZ readers, the food was like throwing your leg over a two wheeled stead that was the result of a purposeful process to arrive at an experience that only you, the rider, could enjoy. Just as Steel, Ti, Carbon all have their own unique qualities, each have to be paired up with the right components to make each material really work, it’s this type of expertise and sincere thought process that Gio clearly puts into his creations.
After dinner and wine, Rob presented a map for Saturday’s ride, with a primary route marked out and a few options thrown in. I was excited to get out and ride, as the route sounded gorgeous and the thought of experiencing new roads is just so cool. The morning brought a warming Arizona sunrise. Fresh coffee and granola ingested, water bottles filled, we met Rob downstairs at the agreed time, loaded up the car and we were gone. Scottsdale is ranked among the top 25 bike friendly cities in the country, and the 20-30 minute warm up to get out on to open roads would’ve been nice for our old knees. But I wanted drive out of town a bit, to get to the meat of the ride and add more miles out in the hills. We pulled over and unloaded the bikes (Rob would be riding his Pegoretti today, it’s a gorgeous bike). Then I said, “Crap, I forgot my pump, Rob do you have one?’ “Umm, nope, forgot mine also.” We couldn’t help but laugh and Angelica was quick to point out how our boyish excitement led to a rookie mistake. Luckily, she would be zipping around getting photos so we had a support vehicle.
We had a few miles to warm up before climbing out of the desert valley, then settled into a pace that allowed conversation but still got the blood flowing. From the first pedal strokes, it was clear that there were many miles in Rob’s legs. While fitness may not be what one would like (is it ever?), there’s no hiding a smooth pedal stroke that only comes from years in the saddle. It’s always a pleasure to ride with a solid cyclist, all doubt leaves and you can enjoy the company and the scenery. Rob was able to name off the desert plants and describe the cycle of life the desert moved through each year. His understanding of his environment was directly tied to his love for the bike, which he summed up perfectly a few minutes later, ‘I come out here and just lose myself every time.’
Once off the main road climb I was surprised at the elevation gain as the valley now seemed miles away. We pushed off down smaller secondary roads with vistas that were distracting in their beauty. I had to stop a few times to take it in. Rob and I are both from the east coast, and while the Appalachians have their own beauty and charm, the younger, rugged mountains of the southwest hold something special as well. If you haven’t experienced it, make sure there’s a time in which you do.
We descended down to a marina (yes, marina) at Saguaro Lake, where Angelica pulled up with the car making a ‘hissing’ sound. It turned out that she had picked up a piece of metal in the tire from pulling off the road numerous times, in order to get her shots. We laughed at the irony; we were worried about getting a flat on the bikes without a pump, and the car ended up with a flat. Without a word spoken, Rob and I banged off the tire change as if we had known each other for years, and were all back on the road in no time. While the traffic was far from heavy, there were cars, and not once were we challenged by motorists. Riding over three hours, we hit up climbs on back roads and more popular routes with the local cyclists from this outdoor community.
We returned to Bespoke for more fun conversation with our hosts, and ohhh, brunch … again, I am no food critic, but I wish I had this type of meal after every weekend ride. It was that good. Encouraged to take out the Pashleys, perfect for exploring downtown Scottsdale, we were set up with maps, water, a bike lock and ready to be tourists. Bespoke is just blocks from a unique shopping, art, and restaurant district, perfect with the city bikes. After stopping for photos, coffee and a visit to a vinyl shop, we ended the day with a swim in the lap pool which overlooks the courtyard and a fantastic dinner at Virtu.
Sunday brought a different ride, hitting South Mountain on the west side of Phoenix, a 20 minute drive to this well used strip of blacktop. For recreational riders looking for a good challenge, to top racers chasing their PR’s, this climb is it. South Mountain is a multi-use city park and it’s actually closed to motorists one Sunday a month, and it was obvious that every driver understood that they were the minority. The climb is 7.5 miles long and averages in the 6-8% range as the road snakes along the side of the mountain with numerous switchbacks and a 10+% kicker at the end. It’s a fun climb, one that you can make miserable if you drill it, or enjoyable when ridden with a controlled pace.
Kate would be joining us today. Her energy is positive and infectious. She set off on her blue Torelli telling us to ‘catch up’, as Rob and I discussed the rides around the area. Rob used to do an 80 mile loop around the base of the mountain to end with this climb. We wouldn’t be doing that today but his point was that there was plenty of riding in the area, and it was good riding.
We came up to Kate, and despite not having many years on a bike, she looked solid in the saddle. I said to Rob, “She looks good on a bike.” His smile and nod revealed a certain pride but it really showed the deep emotions they share. That’s the bond that makes Bespoke work so well.
And the descent? Well, I love descents and this was such a fun one. I asked Rob to lead for a while as he knew this road well. Once I trusted that there weren’t any decreasing radius or off camber corners I went to the front to have fun. The morning had all but disappeared and we had to leave, but I wanted to beg, ‘Can we do it again, please?!’
We shared our final brunch with Rob and Kate, who are a unique couple in the most positive way. Bespoke is like Rob’s passion for bikes – handmade with the personality of its builder. The dinner tables, the copper bar top (the list of items goes on and on) were all hand made by them. It’s truly what makes Bespoke a one of a kind experience. They’ve created a destination for cyclists, from the enthusiast, who wants to get away for a weekend of riding, to the hardcore racer, looking for a solid block of training in great weather and being treated like a pro, Bespoke is the place. Go check it out, Kate and Rob will be in the bike shop when you arrive.
• See the website for more info and to book your stay: BespokeInn.com