Adventure Journal: Allan Shaw's 6 months on a GT-2X
On January 9th this year I stopped in at Vatio bike shop in Mexico City to pick up one of the most exciting deliveries I have ever received. My brand new Mosaic GT-2X with a custom build and paint job was finally here, and it was even more beautiful than I was expecting.
The main reason I was so excited to get hold of this bike is because I knew how many ambitious plans I had for it this year. Plans that would test this bike to its limits and take us to diverse landscapes on three different continents. It would be an opportunity to see how agile, versatile, and well-constructed a machine the GT2-X is, as well as an opportunity to see and test this bike in some of the most extreme environments.
Atlas Mountain Race - Morocco
Our first outing together, barely a month after I first got my hands on it and with relatively few kilometers under its belt, was to fly to Morocco to take part in the 3rd edition of the self-supported, ultra endurance Atlas Mountain Race, a 1340 km race across the rugged mountains and desert plains of North Africa. It felt truly like our maiden voyage, and it was a real experience in getting to know this bike inside and out during the course of the race.
This race has become known for its exceptionally rough terrain in places, and I can’t tell you how many times I was told by another racer on a mountain bike that this race must be impossible on a rigid gravel bike (despite riding side-by-side!). But with 2.25” tyres, a lightweight set-up and good technical skills, this bike covered almost all of the course with relative ease. It was fast and reliable. I’ve been known in the past for not being very gentle with my machines, and being rather skilled in breaking things, and this bike took all my rough treatment and gave me zero mechanical issues for the whole duration of the race, which is a god-send in races like these. This year's race was defined by unexpectedly freezing sub-zero temperatures and long nights of darkness, but also of mind-blowing views and challenging terrain in an expansive empty landscape.
Backroad trails and Tour de Frankie - Mexico
In late February I arrived back to my current home of Mexico City, and dedicated a few months to using this bike to explore the gravel trails in the mountains and national parks surrounding the city. On one side of the city are three main mountain climbs favored by the city’s enthusiastic roadie scene, Ajusco, Los Dinamos and Desiertos de los Leones. What I have discovered in more recent months with my GT-2X is there are many, many gravel, single-track and hiking trails connecting the three together, round the back as it were, many kilometers lost in the hills and the forests, a thousand meters above the city skyline and away from the chaos. It’s peaceful and safe, it’s also beautiful and a welcome break from the crowds of people in the city below.
I was also able to compete in Mexico’s first and currently only Ultra-endurance bike race in April. Le Tour de Frankie starts in the very center of Mexico City and takes an 800 km mixed terrain route through the remote Sierra Mixteca to the Oaxacan coast. I wrote a full race recap for bikepacking.com you can read here. Quite contrary to the Moroccan experience, it was a race defined by swelteringly high temperatures, up to 42c(108f) at times. But it was also an eye-opening experience of the remoteness of these mountain regions of Oaxaca, the isolation the villages live in. Amazing mangos, super friendly people, a new side of Mexico I had never seen, and yet again, thankfully zero mechanical issues throughout. It was an amazing experience.
The Bright Midnight - Norway
In early June I came back to Europe for the summer and in July took on my third ultra-distance race of the year, so far. A 1040 km race across Norway in its inaugural year. It was a race organized by and for ultra-endurance riders with a sense of adventure and a lust for epic views. In this way, it was a bit of a leap into the unknown, on a course no one had ridden before anything could happen, and this was very much one of the big draws for me.
Norway is as breathtaking as its weather can be unforgiving, and the race proved to be defined by rain, endless hours of daylight and stunning landscapes. It was as tough as it was rewarding. My phone stopped working on the second day of the race, and I spent the last 50 hours of my race in almost complete isolation with my machine. It was an intimate and solitary experience, one I learned a lot about battling through the conditions to achieve my goals. One of the organizers Justinas told us at the racer briefing that when times get tough to remember to look up, look around and enjoy the view. It ended up being fantastic advice. I switched from my fun and chunky 2.25” tyres down to slimmer, slicker and faster 45mm gravel tyres and it was a great decision. I, once again, experienced zero-mechanical issues during the race. Despite having switched only the brake pads since January, it is a true testimony to the bullit-proof build of this bike.
In just the last 6 months my GT-2X and I have already lived a lifetime of unforgettable experiences together. From Morocco to Mexico, from Norway to now the rest of the Nordics, mile for mile I have been so happy with this bike and its abilities. It has met every challenge I have given it with strength, stealth and style and I couldn’t be happier with its performance.
I feel very fortunate to be able to ride a bike that at this level, and look forward to continuing to push its limits further and harder in the months and years to come. Because if this is what we can achieve together in 6 months, the sky's the limit!