Wednesday, May 21, 2008

6-Gaps Prep

I had trouble selecting a bike from the quiver for this year's 6-gaps ride. I don't want to use my new Ridley, as it is set up strictly for road racing. It is also my only 10spd drivetrain bike, and I really don't have any options laying around that will get me down to 1:1 gear ratio. The current issue of Bicycling magazine lists Lincoln Gap as the steepest paved mile in the USA. It averages about 20% with parts so steep you can barely keep your front wheel on the ground. Most people need some crazy low gears for this, especially those not accustomed to mashing low RPM like myself.

My Dean Ti cross bike is suitably geared with compact crank up front and MTB cassette in back, but it is out of commission temporarily. A couple weeks ago I got a call from Ritchey (not Tom Ritchey himself, but the company he started) regarding a recall on cranks. Odd, I thought, as I didn't think I had any Ritchey cranks. I had to go downstairs to look. Turns out I had a Ritchey WCS crank on my cross bike. The left arm was designed too thin and snapping off at the BB. I shuddered thinking about that. How they tracked me down is beyond me, as I don't even remember where I ordered it through. Ritchey gave me an RA# to send left arm back for beefier replacement. I'm grateful they actively tracked folks down and didn't just post it on their website.

So I could consider my Specialized Allez, the oldest bike in my quiver. It has served me well over the years and has always been equipped with a triple. It is beastly heavy however. I use it for winter training and I put the cheapest, heaviest parts that will last a long time on it. I used it once for 6-gaps in a leaner form.

My Dean Ti road bike was most obvious choice, as I've used it for 6-gaps the last few years. But it no longer has a triple crank. I got sick of snickers at training rides and races (I have won masters races using a triple). I would need to swap out BB, crank, and probably front derailleur to get the gears needed for Lincoln Gap. That seemed like too much work, and I would have to pilfer the parts from the Specialized, leaving me with a second unrideable bike.

My Trek 5900 carbon bike was still hanging from a hook where I put it last fall after the Everest Challenge race. Both tires were flat (latex tubes). Bike was dusty from building an oak plasma display stand in the bike shop. But it had a compact crank and XTR mountain bike derailleur on it. Perfect. All I had to do was swap out the cassette for a 32t MTB cassette. I actually did this on my Rolf Vigor wheelset, a little more stout for the dirt sections of 6-gaps. This will get me down to 34:32, plenty low for Lincoln Gap.

Training value of 6-Gaps is dubious this time of year when most guys are beginning to peak. This is mainly true for those doing two hour or less road races and crits. It takes several days to fully recover from 6-Gaps, and intensity workouts don't work so well until you are recovered. Most of us will log several hours near LT during this ride. I don't train only to race though. A few times per year I go on cycling centric trips that involve massive amounts of climbing and consecutive long days in the saddle. This can be enjoyable only if one has the endurance to prevent successive rides from degenerating into miserable slogs. I would like to do the Shenandoah 100 mile MTB race this summer too. That could take 9 hours of hammering. And of course, the killer D2R2 seems to have found a permanent place on my annual calender. When I first reported on that ride a couple years ago, I said I wouldn't do it again. Just can't stay away from a good sufferfest though.

Weather is looking promising for Saturday, and I expect about 15-20 guys to make it. Hopefully rain over the next couple days keeps the gravel tamped down.

1 comment:

solobreak said...

I got my bike down to 22 pounds. Now I just have squelch some of the annoying creaking and cleat noises...