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Old 08-13-12, 07:54 PM   #1
jbogg
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Dahlonega Six Gap Century Considerations

Hello all! Just discovered this site in the last few days, and have been reading all I can for preparing for a hilly century. Actually, preparing for my first century. The six gap is on the last Sunday in September, and includes over 11,000 feet of climbing in the North GA mountains. I returned to riding in April, and am now up to sixty miles on my weekend long ride. I have completed the three gap portion of this ride several times, but this will be my first attempt at the whole enchilada. I have started doing a fair amount of climbing on a hill near my home. Its just under a mile top to bottom, with 600' of climbing. I have a 50/34 compact with a 12/27 rear cass. Currently I'm just under 220 lbs and my cadence slows to a brutal 45 - 55 rpms depending on which section of the hill I am on.

Normally I like to turn a high cadence of 95 - 100 during a normal ride. Currently if i were to pedal any slower up this thing i would tip over. It's a single lane road so there is very little ability to serpentine my way up. Anyone else here climbed hogpen, (the steepest of the six gaps). I plan on giving it a try this weekend, and any tips are appreciated.
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Old 08-14-12, 03:35 AM   #2
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I would suggest a 34/12-30 to 12-34 Your legs will get tired and the low 1:1 ratio will let you spin at a good cadence. I have found that much time at a low cadence my feet get hot spots. the lower gear will help because i can pull on the upstroke and move my toes some.
Your last 20 miles on this attempt will be peddle and glide then repeat. I'm suggesting an hour break after the first 60 miles. Get lunch and let it digest. Hope for an overcast sky and a tail wind
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Old 08-14-12, 05:53 AM   #3
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Lower gearing helps. Note that, depending on the make of your drive train, you may have to use a different rear derailleur if you put anything larger than a 28 on the rear.

Lower weight helps even more. I know because in 2010 I weighed approx 48 pounds more than I do now. I did the Blue Ridge Parkway, north-to-south, and weighed 207 pounds at the end; I did the Parkway climbs at 6-mph. The roads you'll be on will be steeper; I would have been slower than 6-mph if the BRP had anything steeper than the 6% engineered climbs. (I did do some steeper stuff not on the BRP; below about 3.5-mph, I hopped off and walked for short stretches.)

What is this "peddle and glide"? I used to ride some with a guy that was trying to stop himself from a self-described "pedal-pedal-pedal-glide" habit on flat and flattish sections, but one cannot climb a mountain or up to a "gap" doing that.

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Old 08-14-12, 06:17 AM   #4
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One other thing:

Climbing is hard, but descending takes a LOT more concentration!

It appears you have done some descending, so you will already know that, but when you are more tired from riding further than you've ever done, it takes more mental effort to keep alert. Things come at you fast at 30 or 35 or 40 mph -- gravel, potholes, debris, cracks in the road, people standing in the road, traffic stopped, traffic coming up the hill partially on the wrong side of the road, curves in the road, sharp curves in the road, road disappearing around sharp curves behind rocks or trees or part of the hill/mountain -- all while staying absolutely alert, yet calm, and using your brakes wisely to scrub speed if/as needed in a manner than does NOT overheat your rims.

Descending is exhilarating, but it is not work-free.
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Old 08-14-12, 10:45 AM   #5
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One other thing:

Climbing is hard, but descending takes a LOT more concentration!

It appears you have done some descending, so you will already know that, but when you are more tired from riding further than you've ever done, it takes more mental effort to keep alert. Things come at you fast at 30 or 35 or 40 mph -- gravel, potholes, debris, cracks in the road, people standing in the road, traffic stopped, traffic coming up the hill partially on the wrong side of the road, curves in the road, sharp curves in the road, road disappearing around sharp curves behind rocks or trees or part of the hill/mountain -- all while staying absolutely alert, yet calm, and using your brakes wisely to scrub speed if/as needed in a manner than does NOT overheat your rims.

Descending is exhilarating, but it is not work-free.

Skiffrun...I am with you on decending. The six gap century has one decent where riders regularly hit + 50mph. No thanks! I learned a while ago it takes a whole lot more stopping distance for a heavier rider like myself. If the roads are in good shape with plenty of site distance I am comfortable getting up to 35 - 40 mph, but the circumstances must be right. The six gap is up to 2000 - 3000 riders now and is a blast. However, many of those riders have lots of riding time, but very limitted or no experience decending which requires much more situational awareness than a solo decent. Slow and steady has my vote on this one.
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Old 08-15-12, 09:18 PM   #6
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Well, I'm 170 lbs and 51 years old. I've done Hogpen from both sides several times and have to report at 34-27 I drop to less than 4 MPH for extended periods on that climb. Not everyone has the skill to go that slow! "Spin" in your lowest gear and shift up and stand every once in a while. Settle in. It's a long way to the top. And, btw, you will not be at the top when you think you are at the top.
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Old 08-16-12, 08:09 PM   #7
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sam83...I plan on riding the back three gaps this weekend, which includes hogpen. I am just hoping to make it without having to do any walking. This should be a good indication if I will be ready to attempt all six gaps at the end of September.
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Old 08-20-12, 04:20 AM   #8
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What is this "peddle and glide"? I used to ride some with a guy that was trying to stop himself from a self-described "pedal-pedal-pedal-glide" habit on flat and flattish sections, but one cannot climb a mountain or up to a "gap" doing that.
On the flat when you have little left in your legs. It is like intervals . . peddle as long and as fast as you can then glide until you can do it again
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Old 08-23-12, 08:46 PM   #9
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sam83...I plan on riding the back three gaps this weekend, which includes hogpen. I am just hoping to make it without having to do any walking. This should be a good indication if I will be ready to attempt all six gaps at the end of September.
Well? How did it go?
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Old 08-24-12, 02:10 PM   #10
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Well? How did it go?

I was glad I checked Hogpen off my list....but never again. My riding time from the turn onto HW 348 at the bottom all the way to the final crest was 59 mins riding time. You were correct about my not knowing when I was at the peak. Two false summits, what a cruel joke that was. I took two short breaks so my legs wouldn't explode, and averaged over 7mph overall, while on the steeper middle 1/3 I was barely turning 5 mph. I can not imagine doing that climb after 60 miles, and still having 35 miles to go afterwards. I learned my 220 lbs is happier on the slightly less steep terrain. No six gap for me this year, but looking forward to the three gap.
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Old 08-24-12, 10:01 PM   #11
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HA! I bet Jacks Gap was a bit of a surprise too. Seriously I'm in the 4 MPH range for the steeper sections of Hogpen. For what it's worth, I have found that, while still hard, those climbs are "easier" the more times you do them. I try to hit them once a year.

I have a 60 year old, 240 lb friend that rides 5000 miles per year @ 12 mph. He rode up Brass Town Bald on a road bike. Flatted both tires within 1/2 mile on the way back down. I've walked up that climb, but have ridden by it time and time again.
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Old 08-25-12, 05:57 AM   #12
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HA! I bet Jacks Gap was a bit of a surprise too. Seriously I'm in the 4 MPH range for the steeper sections of Hogpen. For what it's worth, I have found that, while still hard, those climbs are "easier" the more times you do them. I try to hit them once a year.

I have a 60 year old, 240 lb friend that rides 5000 miles per year @ 12 mph. He rode up Brass Town Bald on a road bike. Flatted both tires within 1/2 mile on the way back down. I've walked up that climb, but have ridden by it time and time again.
Jack's gap was a surprise. My brother last rode those back gaps around 15 years ago and had told me Jack's was barely even noticeable, kind of like Woody's on the front side. I had no trouble noticing it, was even questioning as to whether I had somehow ended up on the wrong rode by the time I got to the top. I'll be 50 in a year, the last time my brother rode it he was 29. I told him if he ever rides Jack's gap again he will definitely "notice" it.
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