Skip to main content

Six Gap...the pain is past

Check out these smiling's some of the Gainesville Cycling Club crew, acting rather chipper the night before Six Gap.

Dahlonega, Georgia is a beautiful area in the southeastern United States; I used to ride motorcycles in and around the curvy, scenic roads in the early 80's. But now it was time for a return on two wheels without the engine. The only pistons pumping on the Six Gap ride were my very sore and now tender legs.

I could go into dozens of details, but bottom line this was one of my most intense efforts, over a given time period, in my endurance career. There are concise explanations given for the actual 104 mile course, but I can sum it up simply:

You climb very steep and very long hills and then you descend.

Six times.

The start was massive, with 2300 riders off the line. The first 30 minutes was a 2000 rider peloton. Riders were shoulder to shoulder. During one of my first shifts, I threw the chain. As I scurried off the road, hundreds of riders rolled by. I re-entered the tour within seconds and resumed the pace. The first 20 miles were rolling hills and then the fun/torture started.

The first gap was a holy s%$t moment. I panicked.

The climb was long and brutal, and I was sure that I could not complete the course. But at this point I give kudos to Cliff Courtney, an advertising exec who spoke to my students at U of FL last Thursday. Cliff had done the event where cyclists pre-ride stages of the Tour de France.

"Just remember to stay relaxed from head to toe," said Cliff.

That sounded simple, but it actually saved my Six Gap performance.

I settled into a slow methodical pace...lowest gear, barely turning the crank, with every muscle as relaxed as possible. Many times the pack was climbing at 6-8 mph. The minutes, then the hours ticked by. My $1500 Felt F60 was doing the job and on several occasions I would climb past a rider on a $5000 bicycle. I must say that felt pretty good.

Climbs came and went and descents had to be negotiated. I hit 42.9 mph at one point and was being passed on both sides. It was too fast for me, I was not comfortable with the speeds. That said, it was such a unique sensation, something I had not experienced.

Here's a great web link that will demonstrate the magnitude of the course:

So, after 25 years of training and racing, I found a new rush. Mountain centuries rock. Pain and terror, all packaged for consumption by the average consumer.

I pulled into the finish in 7:10 riding time, 7:39 on the clock. My traveling buddies, Dennis and Mike, also had excellent finishes.

Good friends, clear skies, a new challenge complete and no one (in our group) was hurt. One female took a bad fall on one of the descents and we are still waiting to hear about her condition.

These types of events are not for everyone, but I am thankful that I can participate. What a wonderful season of life, living as an endurance sport athlete.


Popular posts from this blog

Scott Jurek ate vegan, won ultras...then got divorced

(Disclaimer:  I am a Brooks-supported athlete; as part of that relationship, I was provided a complimentary copy of "Eat & Run")

I was recently on a few flights making my way home to Wisconsin and en route was able to plow through Scott Jurek's new book "Eat & Run: My Unlikely Journey to Ultramarathon Greatness."

It's a fast, enjoyable read. I've been around the ultra scene for a long time and have known some of the greats, i.e. ultra champ Eric Clifton. So it's always interesting to see how the world looks from another icon's point of view.

My thoughts in no particular order:

1) I've been vegetarian/borderline vegan for 12 years and have always been concerned with protein intake.  Jurek advocates for the protein he naturally induces through his plant-based diet.  Maybe that is enough. Maybe it's not necessary to bang down 100+ grams of protein supplement every day. Good info and good advice.

2) I'm buying on big time to Scot…

Build your low cost gravel and commuter bike

It's the saga of Craigslist. You have a great perfect condition road bicycle to market. You ask a fair price. A few calls come in, most often the caller throws out a low ball offer, maybe 50% of asking price.

You don't need to give the bike away. You may not need the cash.

Consider re-purposing. You already own an excellent commuter and gravel bike. Think your bike is too low end, not good for the purpose?

Wrong. In most cases less expensive bikes are build with heavier parts, which means they are stronger. Heavier wheels = better ability to absorb commuter bumps and gravel roads.

A few simple modifications and you'll be rolling for transportation or logging road expeditions.

Here's my 2011 model Specialized Roubaix. I rode it for several seasons as a serious piece of road equipment. A few buyers offered up a few hundred dollars, so I went in another direction.

1) Added 700 x 28 Continental Gatorskin tires. Gatorskin tires wear like iron and you can trust them in off …

Now this is better...

Hey, I don't want to dole out too many epic photos in one day...but after that fatty shot from the New York City Marathon, I had to dig a bit deeper, and found this:

Check out that attractive specimen (second from right) circa 1986...only a year earlier and Tommy Terrific was looking pretty ripped.

I'll tell you this triathlon training camp was one of the high points of my master competitor career. On the left is Mark Hinson, the best triathlete in the southeast in the mid 19890's...and far right is Frank Kohlenstein, a soccer coach from South Carolina and the dude who got me into ultrarunning...that's tanned and toned Tommy next to David Bailey, one of the greatest men who ever threw a leg over two wheels with an engine.

So, right around the time of this camp, I crewed for Frank at the Western States 100 mile endurance run in California. Hinson ran with Frank through a very tough 20 mile desert section and when he made it to the next check, he pulled me aside and told…