Salifu "Sali" Mohammed is pacing around the shop like an expectant father in the delivery room. There's no cigar, but there is a brand new Mosaic RT1 ITR, and what had been a smooth delivery has hit a slight snag.
"Gumwalls?" exclaims Sali. "I can't ride it like that. I'm an artist!"
He's joking, but only just. If you have ever ridden with Sali, you understand what the fuss is all about. He kits himself out, head-to-toe, better than most models on the runways of New York, Paris or Milan. So, while Robert is in the back making a quick change operation on Sali's beautiful Lightweight wheels, I get to the root of what's really on his mind. Turns out, he has bigger things to worry about -his imminent Everest Challenge bike adventure.
"I told him (Miguel Crawford, of Grasshopper Adventure Series fame) he should come out with an Everest Challenge, but he should make it really hard," explains Sali. "It shouldn't be one of those routes going up and down but should be a loop. He knows Humboldt County well, and with the help of Seth Lancaster they came up with this route."
"My first 30,000 feet I did here, on Mt Tam," says Sali. "I did it in 19 hours and 54 minutes. So, for me, the challenge was, can I sit on the bike for 24 hours?
A day after picking up his new one-of-a-kind Mosaic, Sali drove north to Humboldt County to attempt his Everest Challenge route. We caught up with him shortly after he returned home to get the complete download.
"I left about noon and drove straight to Humboldt Redwood State Park," says Sali." I arrived about 5:15 p.m., and at 6:05, I was on my bike. There weren't any shenanigans in between."
And then he stayed on his bike for the next 24 hours.
"No breaks, no sleep, nothing," he recounts. "The only time I would get a break is if I was switching water bottles or mixing my hydration or meeting my support."
The ride comprised 248 miles and a little over 30,000 feet of elevation. His moving time was 22 hours and 50 minutes.
"I could have done better, but I lost GPS on the flats, and there was about 2 hours or more of backtracking to pick up navigation," he recalls. "I didn't want to get lost. When you get lost, it's hard. I had never ridden these roads before."
Besides some thoughtful support from Miguel Crawford and Seth Lancaster, Sali was out there all alone.
"I always say I will never be the fastest, I will never be the strongest, but give me a finish line and then give me the challenge, and I might shock you. I might be the only one who will cross the line," he laughs. "And it is not because I have exceptional skills; it is just because I don't know any better. Anything that will make you go, "What the hell?" is me.
"There was only 50 miles of gravel for the whole ride, so I rode about 196 miles on asphalt. I was averaging 14.7mph for most of that time. If not for the computer glitches, I would have set the record! Man, that Mosaic flies. It's the best bike. Freshly out of the shop and it went and took these kinds of shenanigans without one complaint. Plus, the terrain was unforgiving - the average grade was 14 percent, with a high of 25-29 percent.
"My thing about cycling is, if it's not hard, it's not fun. Because if you do it and it has its challenges, then you realize what you are made of.
"We are nobody under nobody under no pressure, but we become somebody under severe pressure or tension. You see all the elements of who you are. Some people crack, but if you put them in a warm bath, they would crack anyway.
"I'm getting to the point where I strongly believe I will not ride any other bike brand. The Mosaic people know how to tailor a bike for me. I've found a home when it comes to bikes. I don't think I've ever had this much fun sitting on my bike and feeling like I can fly or I'm a Superman. I just need to develop the right skills to go with it."
Sali is planning on doing the Megahopper again, and he is hoping to get accepted to Unbound XL next year, but when we ask when he is going to attempt to break his record on this route, he chuckles and says, "This is one challenge I will not repeat, that's how hard it is."
Find the route below if you are up for a Sali-sized Challenge.