Six Gap Century - CycleCentury

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Dahlonega, Georgia
United States
Dahlonega-Lumpkin County Chamber of Commerce/Dahlonega Wheelworks
80F / 27C
Total Time = 00m
Overall Rank = /
Age Group =
Age Group Rank = 0/
Pre-race routine:

Had planned to wake up a bit before 4AM, but a bladder relief call at 1:50 pretty much had me awake from that point on. I stayed in bed and tried to catch a bit more shut eye, but it wasn't happening. Climbed out at 3:40, let the systems kick in and then made my first pit stop. Loaded up the car and headed up 400 to meet Brian Rell for our carpool date; ate a nutrition bar (Balance) and drank a mix of OJ and sweet tea during the drive. Once connected, we made quick time to Lumpkin County HS and snagged a front-row parking spot. From there, it was simply a matter of pulling everything together for the long day ahead. A Clif Bar, some more hyrdation, load up the Bento box/jersey pockets, air in the tires, etc., etc....
Event warmup:

Nada - chatted with Brian and Chuck (drove from St. Louis to ride Six Gap) and then connected with Neal, David, and Jessica for a pre-ride pic.
  • 6h 23m
  • 86.5 miles
  • 13.55 mile/hr

It was a great day, but a bit anticlimactic as I had to abandon at mile 86 (essentially at the base of Woody Gap - the last one), due to mechanical with the bike. I'm pretty sure my rim tape slipped, because I had two flats (three total for the day) within a couple of miles of one another. Still, it was an epic ride. The route change leading to Neels Gap was nice. Though a bit hillier, it was a gorgeous lead-in and the added vertical helped stoke the engine for the coming climbs.

I rode the first three Gaps - Neels, Jacks, and Unicoi - about as well or better than expected. I didn't push too hard and felt very solid and in control during each climb. I stayed on top of hydration/nutrition and knew I'd done everything in my power to be ready for the ascent of Hogpen.

Hogpen is everything I'd heard - brutal. At the steepest section, I looked at my cyclometer and it showed 3.5mph. For most of it though, it was in the 5-5.5mph range with a couple of sections, including a mile of flat/downhill, a bit faster. Hopefully my climb time will still be posted when they post times; I think it took about 52 minutes. Once up Hogpen, the descent is scary as hell. Unknown to me due to it being my first descent of same, I came to learn it's pretty much a straight shot down. This is why people absolutely fly down the backside - 50mph+ all over the place. I erred on the side of caution ("remember the family" being my primary mantra), but it's virtually impossible to keep your speed down. I alternated the brakes, because I knew the rims would overheat otherwise, but it wasn't enough and flatted (back) about halfway down. I'm pretty sure this is where the rim tape issue began as well.

Once I had a new tube in and pumped up - first time using CO2 cart. and it worked like a charm - I finished the descent and picked up the pace to try and reconnect with my riding partner, Brian. Unfortunately he wasn't at the rest stop at Vogel (where the 3 Gap/6 Gap turn was situated), so I kept pushing and figured we'd reconnect at top of Wolfpen. Tell you what, Wolfpen alone is a tough climb (though it's my favorite), but on the heels of Hogpen, it's sinister. It's not a long climb, but it's quite steep and it seemed to take forever yesterday. During the climb, my quads and arms were cramping bigtime. Fortunately, after what seemed like 4-everrrrrrrrr, I made it up top and Brian was there. We took a couple of minutes rest and the requisite pics (I brought my BB and we took a few pics at the top of each Gap) and then pushed off. Wolfpen descent is really nice and once down we worked together and stayed uptempo heading over to Woody's.

About 4 miles from Woody's, my back tire flatted again - crap! Now things are getting comical or extremely frustrating, depending upon perspective. I put in my 2nd spare, we fired up Brian's CO2 cart., the tire filled and then quickly deflated. Turns out my 2nd spare was bad. So, Brian grabbed his spare and lo and behold a woman (who's husband was riding) pulled over and offered the use of their pump. Sweet, we're back in business. We couldn't thank the lady enough and were soon back on the road and hammered it (20mph+) from the get-go. The legs were feeling good and we knew Woody was a small bump compared to what we'd already climbed. Alas, approximately 1/3 mile from the turn that puts you on the Woody's climb, my back tire flatted again. OK, the comedy is over, now I'm extremely frustrated. Fresh out of options, I told Brian to go. The SAG support for the ride was outstanding the entire day and I knew somebody would come along before too long. Sure enough, "Dave" happened by within 5-10 minutes, we attached the bike to the back of his Jeep, and headed up to the top of Woody's. I was hoping they had mechanical support there (like at the top of some of the other Gaps) that could help with the rim tape issue. Nothing, and a few random queries of other cyclists yielded none either. Darn, nothing to do at that point but be carried back to the school. Ironically, along the way, we came across a young guy whom Brian and I'd met earlier. He'd been riding with another young guy I know and they're both part billy goat. Unfortunately, he'd broken a spoke on the descent of Woody's and his wheel was rubbing his carbon frame, so we added he/his bike to the mix and finished the drive back to the school.

Yes, anticlimactic, but still an epic day. Though my body tried to lock up a few times, especially on Wolfpen, the mind won and I was able to work through the pain, tap the reserves, and set up for a strong ascent/descent of Woody's and then hit it hard the final miles. Approximately 86.5 miles of riding in approximately 6:23 and finishing wasn't even in doubt. Up to the point of bike failure, I was riding on my terms. I'd "guesstimated" a 7-8 hr riding time day and based upon pace, how I felt, and what was left, I'd probably have finished between 7:15-7:30. W/out the mechanical issues, total time on the course would've probably been somewhere between 8:15-8:30.

What would you do differently?:

Make sure I've got cloth rim tape on the wheels (and in my bike bag!).
Post race
Warm down:

Some light stretching, a big bottle of chocolate milk, and some chow with the boys.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

On this day, nothing, short of some rim tape...

Event comments:

Extremely well-run! Volunteers were absolutely fantastic the entire day and support on the ride was very visible. Ten thumbs up!

Last updated: 2008-09-22 12:00 AM
06:23:00 | 86.5 miles | 13.55 mile/hr
Age Group: 0/
Overall: 0/
Performance: Good
This is "ride" time; actual time on the course was longer due to all of the mechanical issues I experienced. When we stopped on our own accord, it was simply to take a photo at the top of each Gap and to top off fluids, grab some heavier nutrition (top of Jacks and Hogpen)
Wind: Little
Course: Tough? Hilly? A little bit of everything? Take your pick - it's an epic course!
Road: Smooth Dry Cadence:
Turns: Average Cornering: Average
Gear changes: Good Hills: Good
Race pace: Comfortable Drinks: Just right
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Good
Mental exertion [1-5] 5
Physical exertion [1-5] 5
Good race? Yes
Course challenge Just right
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks? Yes
Post race activities: Good
Race evaluation [1-5] 5