Images by Geoff Waugh
Matt, when did you hear that you had won the bike and where were you at the time?
Back at the end of October I got an email and didn’t really believe it. Then Ian from ENVE called me to confirm it. I had to run out into the garden to scream so that I didn’t wake the kids up. I could never afford anything like this so it’s a dream come true.
What was your input to the design and spec?
The stuff that Ali does at Fat Creations is amazing. It seems you can give him almost any idea – like Peaty’s cow bike – and he’ll pull it off. I knew this was too good an opportunity to waste on something that wasn’t really flamboyant so I said to Ali to really go for it.
I’m really into punk and alternative culture, so I spent a long time online researching sugar skulls. I sent the basic idea to Ali and he really ran with it. He’s managed to incorporate the old Santa Cruz logo and a cog, and the finish is just incredible.
Ali, what were your first thoughts when you received Matt’s ideas for the theme?
I was a bit worried because we didn’t have long. We first thought it would be a replica of Steve’s Spitfire bike but then Matt had loads of ideas and we thought it would be even cooler to go with those. When I saw the sugar skull I thought it looked really tricky but it was okay once we got started, so I decided to do most of the toptube and downtube in them.
Matt, had you seen photos before Sunday?
No, all I’d seen were a few ideas from Ali and a section of the painted frame before lacquer. I knew he was building it on the Thursday before the event so I asked him for a sneak peak but Ali said ‘No chance!’
What was your first feeling when they pulled off the sheet?
It was just ‘wow’. I was quite aware that there was a crowd there and I was a bit nervous. Then when they pulled the sheet off it was like everything else disappeared and it was just me and the bike.
What are each of your favorite details on the bike?
Matt: In terms of the artwork, it’s got to be the skulls and the way Ali has worked them in. Spec-wise, all of it really – everything is top end!
Ali: I really like the top of the headtube where it comes up to the King headset. We did a custom Nomad logo and the purple and the silvery grey really work together – it took a lot of restraint not to leak that on Instagram. The underside of the downtube has a lot of work on all the skulls and not many people will ever see that. I really like that because it rewards the people that really look closely.
Matt: What riding have you done so far?
I had to rush home after picking it up but the long journey was just too much so I stopped at a motorway services, got it out and had a quick blast up and down the grass! Then I did another quick ride to get it set up for me, which was easy to do, and in the week since I’ve been out on it loads in the Gwydir forest – lots of off-piste, secret DH tracks and some trail centre, too, with my friends in the Kingud/Dyffryn Trail Crew. I have plans to get down to Antur Stiniog and Revolution Bike Park in the next few weeks.
The bike feels so plush. Compared to my old bike, the Nomad is slacker and longer-travel, and way higher spec. The wheels feel really lively, so light and stiff. It’s my first taste of carbon handlebars and wheels and you can really feel the difference. You know they’ll be bombproof too…which is a good job because we’ve got some crazy rough tracks up here!
I live on the edge of Snowdonia. People travel for hours to ride the trails on my doorstep. I used to focus on downhill and now I ride everything. Our rides are still all about the downhills but now we pedal everywhere. These new long-travel bikes can do everything so it’s going to be perfect.
It sounds like we couldn’t have hoped for a more enthusiastic winner!
I completely live for it. After my family, mountain biking is my life. I’m obsessed. Thanks so much to Santa Cruz, Fat Creations and ENVE for this!