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Just say no to crack: 6 Gap Century ride report(26 posts)

Just say no to crack: 6 Gap Century ride report_rt_
Sep 30, 2002 8:38 AM
(Passion x-post)

Don't EVER make decisions while smoking crack. Especially decisions to do a 6 gap, 10,700' of climbing, road century ride.

About a year ago a friend of mine talked me into doing a century ride. She'd just finished the ½ century and was still on some sort of psychotic high that made her think that both of us could go twice that distance. It seemed like a good idea at the time (like I said, I should really avoid making decisions while smoking crack). I figured I had a year to train, how bad could it be?

Flash forward 11.5 months: in the months leading up to yesterday's ride I traveled for work on average 1/month for a week at a time, then changed jobs and moved. Let me just say to those of you who have not had the pleasure of traveling, changing jobs & moving: it puts a real crimp into any training plans you may have had. Since moving 2 months ago, I averaged about 30 road miles/week training time (plus some epic mtb rides thrown in for good measure <---mtb content) and the longest ride I did was 50 miles.

Oh, and by the way, did I mention I've never done a century before? Prior to yesterday I'd done several metric century training rides, and I think my longest ride ever was about 70 miles. Oh yes, and I decided to do it on my new bike (with new saddle) which, prior to yesterday, I'd ridden exactly twice for a total of approximately 30 miles. What was that I said about smoking crack?

The 6 Gap Century Mountain Bike ride (don't let the words 'mountain bike' fool you into thinking of single track & dirt. It's a road bike ride in the mountains of N. GA) looks like this:

The ride started in Dahalonega, GA at 7:30 am yesterday morning with 850+ psychotic cyclists who were willing to get up before the sun to spend between 3 and 10 hours planted on their saddle.

You spend the first hour of riding on rolling terrain before hitting Neils Gap. Neils is a long but not outrageously steep climb -- it took us approximately 35 minutes to make it to the aid station and the waiting gatorade, bananas, and 'nilla wafers. (Kudos to all the volunteers at each of the aid stations -- eventhough none of them was ever able to locate that fresh pair of legs I had sent to the top of each climb.) At the top of the gap we had climbed 1659' from the start and I felt pretty good.

In fact, I felt pretty good through gap 2, Jack's gap, and gap 3, Unicoi gap and all the way up to about ¼ of the way through, the 4th & most brutal gap, Hog Pen gap. I was climbing smoothly and descending at break-neck (literally) speeds.

You hit Hog Pen at approximately 50 miles into the ride. Hog Pen is a 7 mile climb that averages a 7% grade and has sections that are as steep as 15%. Shortly into Hog Pen I DIED (actually, I didn't die, I just wished I would die). I was pedaling in squares and moving at a blistering 3 mph. (I think. I was too miserable to even look at my computer.) In my whole life, I have never experienced such utter & complete misery. (Well, that's not exactly true, I did a race once in Blacksburgh VA that was comperably miserable.)

I threatened to throw up about ¾ of the way up Hog Pen, and inisited on stopping at the aid station 6 miles into the climb. Unfortunately the gatorade and cookies I ate did nothing except make me feel more like I was going to yak! And we still had another mile up hill and 2 miles after that (also up hill but at a moderate 5% grade. SNORT) to the next aid station.

At around mile 75, shortly after finishing Hog Pen and before starting Wolf Pen gap (a similar climb to Neils gap, except ¾ of the way through the race) I found myself looking at ditches and spots on the side of the road & thinking 'that looks like a good place to rest for a while, I bet it's really comfortable in that ditch/pile of gravel/hol
the rest of the story...._rt_
Sep 30, 2002 8:41 AM
cr@p! it got cut off. here's the rest...

At around mile 75, shortly after finishing Hog Pen and before starting Wolf Pen gap (a similar climb to Neils gap….except ¾ of the way through the race) I found myself looking at ditches and spots on the side of the road & thinking ‘that looks like a good place to rest for a while, I bet it’s really comfortable in that ditch/pile of gravel/hole in the tarmac’. Finally I said, ‘I don’t think I’m going to make it through another 2 gaps’. At which point I was told, under no uncertain terms, that I was not allowed to quit & I would be pushed to the finish if necessary.

I slogged my way through Wolf Pen, fighting tears and wishing to die, ate another banana and more ‘nilla wafers at the top, looked at my ride partner & said, ‘let’s bring it home!!’.We screamed down the descent, cruised along the “flats” and as we started the last gap, Woody’s gap, I got my 17th wind and kicked up the pace. We picked up a couple of wheel suckers on Woody’s, who sat on my wheel through the climb, through the descent and well into the final stretch, never once offering to pull. About 2 miles from the finish these 2 dudes (well-rested) shot past us. This was not acceptable & we sprinted the last 2 miles to the finish! (yes, we beat them in!)

Final stats:
101 miles (including cool-down)
6 hours, 38 minutes of actual ride time
7 hours 30 minutes out on the course
15 mph average speed
54 mph max speed
No blood given
countless bananas, cookies, and bottles of water & gatorade consumed
1 HUGE plate of spaghetti eaten afterward
1 very sore a$$ (I think Serfas is permanently imprinted on it now) and 2 very sore legs

1 very proud person.

rt - do i hear Blood, Sweat, & Gears calling my name?
the rest of the story....katie1
Sep 30, 2002 9:39 AM
You gave quite an interesting description of the 6-gaps century but didn't the elevation chart warn you? I personally found it a very enjoyable century. At least the temperature was nice and it did not rain, right?
glad you enjoyed yourself._rt_
Sep 30, 2002 9:50 AM
sure, the elevation chart warned me, but looking at a picture is never the same as doing the real thing, is it?

it was my first century & i'm thrilled that i made it through to the end.

the weather was great, i agree.

glad you enjoyed yourself.katie1
Sep 30, 2002 10:35 AM
Job well done then on your first century. You sure picked a difficult one for your first go around. You should be proud of your accomplishment. Perhaps next year you should warm up with Covington (flat and fast). Cartersville was okay (poorly marked) but the Backroads Brewery (also in Cartersville) was great (both gently rolling). If you like climbing, check out Cheroahalla or 3-State. Good luck!
the rest of the story....look271
Oct 2, 2002 1:20 PM
I'd be pretty d#$n proud of that. 15mph avg speed? Check out jshaiku thread on same ride. You done good. (Although you MUST have been on crack to have done it on a new bike/saddle/etc.)
Sep 30, 2002 10:44 AM
Hey, you picked a doozy for your first century, made some mistakes, suffered and still you prevailed!

Trick is to know your limitations...and then ignore them.

The other thing to bear in mind is to keep gearing the bike down so that you can keep plugging away.
Sep 30, 2002 10:53 AM
I was running a 12x27 & i ran out of gears long before i ran out of hill!

training is a good thing. maybe i'll try it next year. ;-)

re: Just say no to crack: 6 Gap Century ride reporttaar44
Sep 30, 2002 1:28 PM
Damnit!! I wish i had known about this ride!! Sure beats the weekly ride at Stone Mountain park!
happens every year...._rt_
Sep 30, 2002 1:35 PM
go to here for more info:

I tried riding out to Stone Mtn on sat as a pre-century spin, but turned around when i got to that main drag road that, shall we say, does not go through the best of neighborhoods. i felt very conspicuous in my lycra by myself.

do you know if there's any way to avoid that road?

happens every year....taar44
Sep 30, 2002 3:04 PM
Sorry buddy. I actually drive to Stone mountain and then ride around it.
oh well..._rt_
Oct 1, 2002 4:39 AM
thanks anyway.

Stone Mtn hoodskatie1
Sep 30, 2002 5:09 PM
Cyclists ride through those neighborhoods all the time. I have never had any problems. I wouldn't ride through at dark, but feel safe during the day.

Stone Mtn is nothing like a gap ride.
cool. that's good to know._rt_
Oct 1, 2002 4:38 AM
I got nervous when i had a couple people honk/yell stuff out the window.

i've heard Stone mtn is a good spinning ride & i can do it from my front door. 40-ish miles of spinning is never a bad thing.

Honking and Yelling?katie1
Oct 1, 2002 10:08 AM
What road were you on? For the most part, people ignore me. The kids tend to yell things. I ride from my house too.

There are two loops at Stone Mtn. The inner loop is 5 miles and the outer loop is 7. Depending on which direction you ride, you can get a good workout. It is hilly.

During the winter, people will continue to meet around 6:00 on Tuesdays and Thursdays to ride in the dark and cold. Misery loves company.
Oct 1, 2002 12:53 PM
I don't know what road it was but it was a major throughfare. lots of custom wheel places along the way (among other things). i don't know, maybe i had a sign on my butt that said "honk/yell if you like what you see"?! ;-)

I hadn't mapped out a route and was exploring the bike path/route and found myself facing a left turn with a sign that said "Stone Mtn 9 [mi]". so i turned left, passed a bank on my right and there i was on a 6 lane road.

do you live anywhere near VA-Highlands?
bike pathkatie1
Oct 2, 2002 12:01 PM
I live in Decatur, actually closer to Avondale, near the bike path. I follow it part of the way then cut through the 'hoods' until I cross Memorial. I prefer this route because it avoids Ponce. Unfortunately, I don't know the names of the roads.
Good report.Ian
Sep 30, 2002 5:42 PM
It is nice to hear someone share the misery, just like the saying. Glad you had a good time and finished the ride.

I'm to lazy to re-type my report, so if you want, go here and read it -

great write up!_rt_
Oct 1, 2002 4:50 AM
I was wondering where all those emergency vehicles were going. they passed us as we were going through the "flats" after Hogpen. we thought it was a motorcycle crash.

is your friend ok? i've crashed onto my head (mtb crash) and cracked my helmet in 3 places. the neck pain is scary and i can only imagine how scary it was to go down on that descent. yikes.

congrats to you too on finishing. sounds like you guys have a great group down there in FL.

Oct 1, 2002 5:27 AM
Yeah, my buddy will be OK. The doctor said he will actually be better than new. He dislocated a vertabrate and is having surgery today. They have to do a bone graft from his hip. He'll be in the hospital for a few more days and have 2-3 weeks of recovery (no strenuous activity), but after that should have no lingering effects.

You may have passed part of our group at the bottom of Hogpen, we were stopped at the church on the left waiting for everyone to come down.

good report. here's the explicit URL, for airheads like me...JS Haiku Shop
Oct 1, 2002 5:33 AM

it took a few minutes for me to find it. d'oh!

good to hear he'll be ok_rt_
Oct 1, 2002 5:42 AM
that's a relief. but bone graft from his hip? OUCH! i was lucky that my neck crash didn't require surgery -- no instability when you have a compression fracture (C6).

we probably did pass part of your group at the bottom of hogpen but i don't even remember the church, much less a group of people standing in front of be honest i could have passed an elephant dressed in a tu-tu standing in front of a pink & blue polka-dotted circus tent at the bottom of hogpen & not noticed!! ;-)

your group didn't have 2 girls in it, one of whom was wearing a black sleevless jersey? they got yelled at by a guy in a car (something about taking up the whole lane when he wanted to pass.....obviously he had someplace important to be at 1pm on a sunday afternoon)....

good to hear he'll be okIan
Oct 1, 2002 7:58 AM
Yeah, the doc said for the next couple of days, his hip will hurt more than his neck.

Oh, how funny, elephants in Tu-Tu's. That gave me a good laugh.

We did have two girls in our group, but they both had on blue, sleeved, WindermereRoadies jerseys.

good to hear he'll be ok_rt_
Oct 1, 2002 8:04 AM
hmmm, nope, no recollection of seeing you guys! that brain cell must have checked out sometime on the way up Wolfpen. ;-)

Oct 1, 2002 8:26 AM
Here is a picture of us crossing the line, I'm the one on the right;

nice pic_rt_
Oct 1, 2002 8:48 AM
was your jersey in the wash? ;-) hehe.

if i saw you guys on the road, that brain cell died before i could retrieve the memory.

did you buy the pic?