6 Gap Bike Ride

When I decided to train with John Josephs this year, he asked me what my riding goals were.  Two of them were (there was quite a list), to ride 6 Gap, and to do it in less than 8 hours.  6 Gap is a ride in the mountains of Nth Georgia each Sep, that incorporates 6 mountains, 100 miles (160kms), 11,000' of climbing, and a lot of pain.  And if you are lucky (like I was this year), it rains 80% of the time.  That is a lot of wet chamois.

  Don't worry if you think this
looks hard, it is.  I did 3 Gap/50 miles two years ago, and basically you just do Neels, then skip to Wolfpen and Woodys.
  Which isn't that easy either, just quietly.  Hogpen is the bad boy, it is 8 miles long with two sections at 15%.  And then
look at the descent.  That is steeper than going up.  I didn't quite exceed my land speed record coming down, I only hit
44 mph (73 kph) which failed to match Mt Ventoux last year, at 50mph.  However when I realised the tyres were making
little runnels in the water on the road, I employed my (previously lacking common sense) and thought "this is fast enough
old chap'.  

  But this is where it all starts.  I took the Colnago (at the back) as it has a granny gear, a third ring in the front which basically means you float up all hills without raising a sweat.  Yeah, right.  The Orbea is full carbon and a lighter bike, but only has the normal double.  Ran into a guy from Tampa on one of the hills who had the same GEO paint job on his Colnago, a rare thing.  There is only one other same in Jacksonville of which I am aware.

  So now we skip to the end, which would not have been the case normally.  I did contemplate taking the camera (for my usual 101 photos) , but the rain ditched that idea so you will just have to accept it when I tell you that the scenery was really lovely.  Apart from (almost) seeing for miles when you come to the top of Hogpen at 3700', we came down through three layers of cloud/fog/mist/whatever.  Just when you thought you had cleared the cloud, you dropped into another layer.  Pretty weird.

But this was me after the ride, the expression is somewhere between that of a stunned mullet and a drowned rat.  There was also quite a bit of exhilaration too.  I actually didn't think I would be able to do it (hills with me rate highest on the dislike scale, followed by rain and wind), but it just shows what you can do with training, a good coach (thanks the soft hands advice John!), and stopping for a pee and a feed every 20 miles.

  Yep, it is more the drowned rat look here.  

  So I went to the hire van to get my stuff and got caught there when the rain started again.  As I only had a hot bath and a high fat/high alcohol dinner waiting, I stayed until it stopped.  But I figured this was the only photo I had of the rain, and I needed some proof.  The legs are just proving it really was me.

So next year I am told I will be doing Grandfather, a 100 mile ride this time in the mountains of Nth Carolina.  I will be ecstatically happy if it doesn't rain, and is above 75F.  Easy to please!

Before that however, we will also be doing a 7 day ride in Abruzzo, Italy at the end of June/early July.  So stay tuned for more pics and stories.  Better still, come and ride with us!!


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