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Six Gap in Six Hours -- Almost

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Road Cycling “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” -- Ernest Hemingway

Six Gap in Six Hours -- Almost

Old 09-29-08, 08:28 PM
  #1  
KendallF
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Six Gap in Six Hours -- Almost

I just downloaded my Powertap from this weekend's Six Gap, so I figured I'd post an account of the ride and some power numbers.

A little background: I did Six Gap two years ago, in the rain, about 20 pounds heavier than I am now, in 8:14. It was the first time I'd ever done anything remotely resembling a climbing ride, and I was happy to finish and not die en-route. I was on a 28 lb. steel bike with a triple...I took the rack off for Six Gap.

Fast forward two years, my training's improved, my weight's the lowest it's been in 20 years, I went back up with a goal to do the ride just a bit faster. One of the guys I ride with is usually among the fastest 10 or so finishers when he goes, and he was targeting 5:20 this year (they added a bit more climbing and about 4 miles to the route). I figured I'd shoot for six hours, although I really had no idea what I could do. At 180 lbs I'm still definitely no climber.

I started off with the front group, figured I'd let them go when we got into the first "mini-gap" on the new outbound section. I was amazed to see people huffing and puffing before mile 5; all I could think was that they were in for a long, long day. I settled into a rhythm once we got to the first gap, and ended up riding with several friends from this area whose paces coincided with mine.

The weather was awesome this year, and I had an absolute blast on the downhills. I felt very good for the first three gaps but I knew things were going to start to hurt more from there on out. Hogpen really went fairly decently; I just settled in and ground my way up. I hit 52.9 mph on the back side descent...that's the stuff I love. From there on out, it pretty much hurt but it was manageable and I kept on moving. The lengthy descent from the last gap actually gave me some time to recover and I was able to stand and big ring most of the last inclines on the way in.

I was checking the time the last few miles, and knew I wasn't likely to quite make the 6 hour mark. I rolled through at 6:12 and change. The fastest guy came in at around 5:09, from what I heard, and the skinny climbers (from flat Jacksonville) that I ride with came in around 5:23-5:27. I'll be trying to close a bit more of that gap next time...

Some numbers, for those so inclined. I have a Powertap, so no elevation data, but I believe the total elevation gain this year was right around 12k feet.

Entire workout (171 watts):
Duration: 6:06:32
Work: 3763 kJ
TSS: 354 (intensity factor 0.762)
Norm Power: 206
VI: 1.2
Distance: 104.839 mi
Min Max Avg
Power: 0 531 171 watts
Cadence: 29 193 76 rpm
Speed: 2.2 52.9 17.2 mph
Pace 1:08 26:49 3:29 min/mi
Hub Torque: 0 538 124 lb-in
Crank Torque: 0 874 198 lb-in

Hogpen climb:
Duration: 48:33
Work: 624 kJ
TSS: 58.2 (intensity factor 0.848)
Norm Power: 229
VI: 1.07
Distance: 7.094 mi
Min Max Avg
Power: 0 381 214 watts
Cadence: 29 111 65 rpm
Speed: 2.8 35.1 8.8 mph
Pace 1:43 21:27 6:51 min/mi
Hub Torque: 0 538 241 lb-in
Crank Torque: 0 771 294 lb-in

And, just for fun, peak 2 minute speed.

Peak 2min (46.7 mph):
Duration: 2:01
Work: 0 kJ
TSS: 0 (intensity factor 0)
Norm Power: n/a
VI: n/a
Distance: 1.566 mi
Min Max Avg
Power: 0 0 0 watts
Cadence: n/a n/a n/a rpm
Speed: 36.4 52.9 46.7 mph
Pace 1:08 1:39 1:17 min/mi
Hub Torque: 0 0 0 lb-in
Crank Torque: 0 0 0 lb-in
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Old 09-29-08, 08:51 PM
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Great improvement and narrative. I wish I had some hills around me.
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Old 09-29-08, 09:00 PM
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6 minutes off, close enough!! good job.

what's the max elevation that ride? have a profile?
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Old 09-29-08, 09:05 PM
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Old 09-29-08, 09:10 PM
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looks pretty rad - wish i road cycled back when i lived in the dirty south
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Old 09-30-08, 06:43 AM
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A few things I forgot to mention: I know we had some more BFers there. Kensuf for sure, who came in ahead of me and I think broke 6 hours.

On a serious note, one of the guys I rode up with is a doctor, and as he was coming down Hogpen, a woman crashed in front of him. He stopped and provided emergency aid, and stayed with her until the EMTs came. She's apparently in the hospital now and hasn't regained consciousness yet as of last night.
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Old 09-30-08, 07:01 AM
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That's great, OP. Congrats on a strong ride.

How do you train for hills on Orange Park, FL? A lot of freeway overpass repeats...?
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Old 09-30-08, 07:20 AM
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Great job Kendall. What gearing did you use?

For folks that haven't done Six Gap, and think of Georgia as flat; its an amzingly hard ride. The hardest climb is definitely Hogpen. Total of 7 miles with one sustained section where the grade is in the mid to high teens.

Next year on the Burley.
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Old 09-30-08, 07:29 AM
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Originally Posted by merlinextraligh View Post
Great job Kendall. What gearing did you use?

For folks that haven't done Six Gap, and think of Georgia as flat; its an amzingly hard ride. The hardest climb is definitely Hogpen. Total of 7 miles with one sustained section where the grade is in the mid to high teens.

Next year on the Burley.
The extra six miles made it a lot harder than the old course. My ride time (5:47) and total time (5:57) was substantially more grueling than last year (5:58 and ~6:20).
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Old 09-30-08, 09:01 AM
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Originally Posted by Kuma View Post
That's great, OP. Congrats on a strong ride.

How do you train for hills on Orange Park, FL? A lot of freeway overpass repeats...?
We actually do a ride that involves going downtown and doing loops on the Acosta bridge over the St. Johns River for an hour. It's just as exciting as it sounds. Better training for long sustained climbs, though, is just to work on FTP intervals like 2x20s.

Originally Posted by merlinextraligh View Post
Great job Kendall. What gearing did you use?

For folks that haven't done Six Gap, and think of Georgia as flat; its an amzingly hard ride. The hardest climb is definitely Hogpen. Total of 7 miles with one sustained section where the grade is in the mid to high teens.

Next year on the Burley.
I was rocking the 11-32 with XT derailleur on the back (my bikes are 9 speed). As for doing that on the tandem, right now I'll provisionally give that a "No way in hell" rating.

...but man, that would give Jenn a HECK of a training goal for next year...hmmm...

Originally Posted by kensuf
The extra six miles made it a lot harder than the old course. My ride time (5:47) and total time (5:57) was substantially more grueling than last year (5:58 and ~6:20).
I agree. Look at the elevation profile and I think they should name it "7 Gap" this year. You were hauling this year; great time!
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Old 09-30-08, 09:13 AM
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What a wonderful area to ride. This is on the list for next year.
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Old 09-30-08, 09:40 AM
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Originally Posted by KendallF View Post
On a serious note, one of the guys I rode up with is a doctor, and as he was coming down Hogpen, a woman crashed in front of him. He stopped and provided emergency aid, and stayed with her until the EMTs came. She's apparently in the hospital now and hasn't regained consciousness yet as of last night.
Damn, sorry to hear that. I hope she has a full recovery.

On the positive side, congratulations on the ride. How does this compare in difficulty to the Assault on Mt. Mitchell? I did that ride in '97, and I have debated about trying the Six Gap - although I need to lose some weight to get back to the form I had for Mt. Mitchell!
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Old 09-30-08, 10:55 AM
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no elevation on Powertap? crap...back to the drawing board.
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Old 09-30-08, 12:50 PM
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Originally Posted by HigherGround View Post
How does this compare in difficulty to the Assault on Mt. Mitchell?
I haven't done the Assault, but looking at the finishing times and the elevation profile suggests they're fairly comparable. The Assault seems to throw all of the climbing into the last 30 miles, similar to the Brasstown Baldbuster, which I did earlier this year. I'm not sure which style is worse.
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Old 09-30-08, 01:01 PM
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How many of you guys took a left up brasstown at the 180 rest stop?
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Old 09-30-08, 07:17 PM
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Originally Posted by snoboard2 View Post
How many of you guys took a left up brasstown at the 180 rest stop?
Not this weekend! I did it at mile 97 or so of the Brasstown Baldbuster earlier this year; that was enough.
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Old 09-30-08, 07:40 PM
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Originally Posted by CyLowe97 View Post
What a wonderful area to ride. This is on the list for next year.
Cy, you should have give it a shot. Me and some local buddies did Three Gap this year. Didn't really push it that hard and finished around four hours of ride time.

Couldn't be talked into Six Gap this year. Hogpen is some kind of hurt.

Was a guy on Wolfpen who fell off the mountain on the ascent. EMTs were taking care of him, he seemed to be alright.
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Old 09-30-08, 07:51 PM
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Originally Posted by HigherGround View Post
How does this compare in difficulty to the Assault on Mt. Mitchell?
This is second hand info; but from the guys I have talked to, they considered Mitchell to be harder than Six Gap, simply because you are doing most of your climbing in the last 20 miles with limited time of recovery; where as Six Gap you are climbing earlier & then have the chance to cruise down the other side. At Mitchell you go up & stay up.

KendallF - Congrats on your ride! I think we rode in the same van back down the hill after the Brasstown Century earlier this year.
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Old 09-30-08, 07:52 PM
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Originally Posted by CyLowe97 View Post
What a wonderful area to ride. This is on the list for next year.

are cheating off my list?

later.
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Old 09-30-08, 09:11 PM
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KendallF and Porter20, thanks for the feedback!
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Old 09-30-08, 10:40 PM
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Comparing to the Assault on Mt Mitchell, there's a couple of threads on this. I've ridden Six Gap and the Brasstown Baldbuster mulitple times. I've never done AOMM, but I've ridden up Mt Mitchell from Asheville. (admittedly not from Marion).

IMHO, Brasstown Bald Buster and Six Gap are tougher. Mt Mitchell is just not steep enough to compare to Hogpen or Brasstown.

I think the reason AOMM puts the hurt on people is pacing, going too hard getting to the climbing. Also AOMM gets a mystique buecause Mitchell is the highest point in the Eastern US. I still tihnk BBB, and Six Gap are harder.
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Old 10-01-08, 01:39 PM
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Hey, I was there also (1st time). I did not have as good as a ride as you (congrats) I battled quad and hamstring cramps up Hogpen and Wolfpen thus having to alternate riding and walking up those two climbs. I also stopped at every sag toataling an 1 hour and 5 minutes, so I ended up at 8 hours 53 minutes total time and around 7 hours and 48 minutes riding time.

I guess if I do it again I must figure out a way to stop the cramping, which is always an issue for me even though I drink tons of water, sports drinks and take electrolytes. I just sweat a ton when I am riding thus depleting something more than I am replacing. I think I would opt for at least 1 more gear with the cramps my 34 - 28 was not enough for me on some sections.

Overall though it was a very nice ride and I loved the downhills I topped out at 47.1 mph.
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Old 10-01-08, 05:08 PM
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good improvement since last year! sounds like a fun ride
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Old 10-01-08, 05:34 PM
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I did both AOMM and Six Gap for the first time this year. I would say they are very comparable as far as difficulty. They are very different rides though. Six Gap is up and down all day and AOMM has most of the climbing at the end.

BTW: Mt Mitchell is a much tougher climb when you do it as part of the assault. Plus this year it was very hot. (100 degree temps)
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