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too much turkey: north GA mountains RBR ride report(7 posts)

too much turkey: north GA mountains RBR ride reportJS Haiku Shop
Dec 1, 2003 9:20 AM
Mike P put together a liesurely ride:

Hogpen Gap
Unicoi Gap
Jack's Gap
Brasstown Bald
Wolfpen Gap

Hogpen is the big one on the 6-Gap Century. Brasstown is the highpoint of GA, and there are some stupid-steep gradients near the top.

my sorry report:

departed Peachtree City 6 AM to arrive early bird for Turkey Day Sale when Pearl Izumi outlet opened, 1.5 hours north. arrived in time to walk around a bit. raided PI outlet at 5 'til 8. done in less than an hour, minus a few bucks and overburdened with bags of warm winter clothing and some fun socks.

arrived vogel state park after an hour+ of driving NE from Dawsonville GA on twisty and steep mountain roads. last steep part of the drive was over Neel's Gap, where there was ice on the road, snow on the roadside, and the temp was 24*F (but it's a dry heat). Vogel SP is just below neel's gap.

I was at least an hour early, so enjoyed a nice book and some stress over the ice and frost on the tarmac. Mike P arrived early and we decided to wait 'til the announced 11 am ride start to (1) see if anybody else was joining us, and (2) see if the ice had melted yet.

it melted. we left a few minutes late (i am apparently habitually late regardless of how early i get there, LOL), descending out of vogel right away, and heading for the backside of Hogpen Gap.

naturally i sabotaged myself with my glee over the new goodies from the PI store. i've learned (in IL) to layer in cold weather, but have never ridden anything (sustained) steeper than 5% in temps less than 40*F. started with a s/s jersey, arm warmers, paper-thin merino turtleneck, PI barrier vest, and PI windbreaker, plus arctic-worthy gloves, fleece earband, wicking balaclava, helmet cover, and wool socks, chem foot warmers, weatherproof oversocks, mtb shoes, neoprene booties, and finally, thermafleece leg warmers and 2 pairs of shorts.

all that, and i was somewhat cold at the parking lot. on the bike, and within 15 minutes i'm on fire and it's like riding in a J-sized sauna. by the time the climb started i was down to one less layer and struggling to maintain 30x27.

note: Hogpen is a steep bastid as we approach it on the 6-Gap. It's a 7 or 8 mile climb, with some sustained 3+ miles of excessive gradients. Mike had us going up the backside, which climbs the same amount in just 3 linear miles.

halfway up hogpen, Mike's long gone up the road on that beautiful blue Merckx Team SC, and i'm stopped on the roadside, drooling, gasping, and stripping down to a jersey and vest, no gloves, and nothing under my helmet. and it's less than 30*F. finally reached the top and Mike was enjoying a nap after his lunch (just kidding). the air was very clear and we could see snow atop Brasstown from our vantage point. we were told by a tourist in a Humvee that Brasstown had been closed due to weather. at that point, i was done for the day.

Mike continued on the route, and i retraced the last 10 miles, back to the car and then on to Taco Bell, and finally Peachtree City.

lesson to self: dress minimally, and only for the descent. if you're cold on a big climb, ride harder to get warmer. overheating (for me) is worse than a severe bonk. also, shop at the PI outlet AFTER riding in the mountains with Mike P. sorry Mike!

so tell us Mike, how was the rest of the ride???

You were wearing more clothing than I own :-) (nm)biknben
Dec 1, 2003 10:41 AM
Turkey is good!Mike P
Dec 1, 2003 12:06 PM
Not too much to tell. It was cold. I had the same problem with the temp, stopping three times to remove this or that. The third stop. . . I was freezing my @55 off by the time I got the layers off. Once I got to riding again though I felt pretty good. The view was nice from the top of Hogpen and I welcomed the rest there; just soaking in the visual, wishing there were less cars driving by so I could enjoy the sounds too. Brasstown Bald stood out from the darkness of the surrounding mountains, a lonely white cap in the distance calling my feeble little legs. I looked down the road (and I do mean down) and saw J working his way up this monster. He looked to me like he was riding pretty strong. J, there's some stuff worse than being too hot AND too cold at the same time, but not much. I was sad to part ways there but I do not blame you one bit for heading back. I was really close to turning back as well but I had the thought they just might have the Brasstown gate opened by the time I made it over there and the Merckx was wanting to give it a try. The ride down Hogpen was fun but I was keeping an eye out for ice and gravel in the road so I didn't go too fast. I almost turned around to ride Hogpen from the East, so I could decide which way was more fun. I decided against the idea for some reason.

Unicoi was just as it was last year; a nice long hill. The ride down was frightening in a couple places, with salt on the roads; luckily the black was water and not ice.

The climb up Jacks gap seemed colder than it was. The wind was from my back and it was strong; I was hitting some pretty good speeds for going uphill. It's not natural for me to go up steep hills at 15 MPH but it sure is fun! Soon I was into the snow. None on the road but it smelled like winter. I grinned, and I hoped Brasstown would be open. . . or closed. The gate was closed. Oh well. My fingers got really cold on the way down Jacks which pretty much let me talk myself out of Wolfpen. I just passed up the Wolfpen turn and went on back to Vogel.

46 miles for the loop. Around 5500 feet elevation gain. My legs were feeling it Sunday! I think this ride should be done again.

Like I said last week, "Man I'm sure glad12x23
Dec 1, 2003 4:34 PM
I didn't get some of that !!!! ;-)

Why not do this again July/August, maybe do 'em all .. 100 mi or so in Jawjuh's humidity .. scouting Six Gap like Lance does the Tour every year ??
How's the knee?Mike P
Dec 2, 2003 5:31 AM
You would need both knees for it!

I have ridden from Vogel five or six times this year, plus the 6-Gap, just looking for hills. I think I have found a route that includes all 6 of the 6-gap climbs but packs it into around 80 miles. Might be fun early this spring. Two loops from Vogel, each loop can be ridden in either direction, for variety.

I hope the knee heals fast!

How's the knee?12x23
Dec 2, 2003 10:02 AM
The knee's coming along fine. It's been two weeks since I had it scoped. My doc says to wait a few weeks before I start riding again. I'm listening this time.

Maybe I'll have some miles in my legs by Spring.
sorry I missed it -- NOT!bianchi boy
Dec 1, 2003 6:33 PM
I've ridden in all sorts of crappy conditions this year, but I just don't have the gear to handle temperatures that cold. It's the downhills that will get you, particularly after you work up a sweat going up hill. I was so cold last year I was shaking on the downhill from Brasstown, and it was about 20-30 degrees warmer that day. Anyway, I'm sorry I missed an opportunity to ride with you guys, but perhaps another time or place.