Thursday, May 21, 2009

6-Gaps 2009 Prep

The stage is set for this year's Memorial weekend tour of the gaps. Due to increased interest, riders will be starting out in three separate groups at different times on Saturday. Hopefully this keeps everybody moving at their own comfortable pace. A small C-group plans to do their own thing starting in Warren at 6:30am. A B-group plans to start in Rochester at 7:30am. 10 riders plan to join that group, most of them mountain bikers that compete in 100 mile races. The A-group leaves at 9am with 15 riders. Looking at the A-group roster, there's no doubt after the ride I'll feel like I've been beaten about the head with my own legs that were ripped off during the ride. With any luck, the A-group will catch the B-group before the end of the ride so we can finish together.

At one point, I had at least 35 names interested in riding Saturday. Kind of scary. I got a lot of emails like "where do I sign up?" or "how much does it cost?" I kind of freak when I get those, as the rider's expectations may be way different than what the ride entails. Of course, the ride is completely unsupported, and it is not a no-drop ride. There is no sag-wag or sweep at the end of the day. When I send my first email out to the list of interested riders I collect over several months, no doubt some are scared away. Later this summer there will be a semi-supported 6-gaps ride. Learn about the Chet Warman ride.

What I would like to do for next year is start a dedicated 6-gaps forum. Riders are looking for others to ride with all summer long. A forum linked to the website would make it much easier to find ride mates. If it gains traction, it would get me out of the loop (and out of the way!). I don't mind answering email. I get many hundreds each summer. Peaky periods seem to be around 6-gaps and the Mt Washington hillclimb race. The Mt Washington race already has an active forum. A 6-gaps forum hopefully would enable more riders to plan their own epic events.

What is interesting is how many other people like myself are organizing 6-gaps group rides throughout the summer. One guy that rode with me a couple years ago is organizing a ride with riders coming in from as far away as Alaska. The ride has really gained notoriety. It will be my seventh year organizing a ride. In 2003, Joey Bracchitta and I did the loop in about 8.6hrs riding time, or over 11hrs elapsed time. We did stop for a sit-down lunch midway. I think those days are gone, as the Hill Junkie ride has morphed into a throw-down. It's all good though. I'm not getting any younger. 6-gaps, along with maybe the D2R2 ride, are the hardest things I do on a bike each year. It keeps you honest. You are reminded who the boss is. It's them hills in the Green Mountains.

14 comments:

Dave said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dave said...

111.7 miles, 70% on dirtroads, with 15,670 feet of climbing. And I thought Saturday would be rough.
But D2R2 would make a good SM100 training ride, about 1 week before the race. Could do it on my mtb with the suspension locked out on climbs. I will think about registering.

Mookie said...

I'm interested to compare the relative difficulties of D2R2 and Six Gaps. What are your thoughts on that?

Hill Junkie said...

Comparing last year's 6-gaps and D2R2, I have to say D2R2 was harder. This was your fault. You and Dave P kicked my butt on that one. 6-gaps takes less time and a much smaller percentage of it is gravel. The climbing is similar in that there are many long, steep ones. The descents are faster. This year the A-group ride could be very fast, and thus hard. With a number of Cat 1/2 and elite off-road riders joining, there won't be much opportunity for slacking off me thinks.

solobreak said...

Can't you figure out a way to work Sherburne Pass and Smuggler's Notch into this ride too? Or are you getting soft in your old age?

FWIW I think 6 gaps is way harder than D2R2. Maybe because I don't do D2R2 like a race.

Mookie said...

Yeah, but you weren't feeling well or your legs were toast or something. Something definitely was amiss.

solobreak said...

I won't claim 6 gaps last year was my best day. But it was hard. D2R2 is more fun though, so maybe that just makes it feel easier. This year I'm going to attempt it without a triple, so I reserve the right to change my mind on this issue...

Hill Junkie said...

Actually, one of the B-group riders has done a 12-gap ride that took something like 18 hours. Others have proposed higher gappage routes. I wouldn't rule it out for a future season.

Unfortunately I can't make D2R2 this year. I believe the D2R2 organizers failed to realize that they scheduled it for the same day as Mt Washington this year. We register in February for Mt W, so many riders were later bummed when they learned D2R2 date.

The only way I'd do D2R2 without a triple is with compact/MTB cassette combo. I'm a firm believer in not making the ride any harder than it needs to be. Even in the hillclimb races, many riders are too macho to accept that they'd be much faster with lower gears. Heck, I won Battenkill one year with a triple. I used the granny at least twice too. Lose style points? Perhaps.

solobreak said...

I agree on the gearing, but unlike you, I don't have a light bike/triple combination in my arsenal. I hate working on bikes, so I'm not motivated to create one either. Actually, the first time I did D2R2 I used a 38/32 low gear and that was OK. This year, now that Shimano is selling 28t 10s cassettes, I am planning to brave it with a 34/28. Six gaps, I don't know. I've read about people doing Lincoln with a 39x25 and just cannot imagine that. I can't make it tomorrow anyway, so have a great time.

Mookie said...

Yeah, I was bummed they moved D2R2 up a week from last year. I know several guys (including yourself) that are doing Washington instead. Solo, too bad you can't make it; I would have liked to meet you. I guess that'll have to wait until D2R2.

Sidenote: I never understood the gearing thing. I know a guy that is a marginal Cat 3 and he insists on running a 39x23 minimum. Anything over 10-12% grade and he's in single digit rpms out of the saddle. I think at last year's Giro in that brutal hillclimb time trial, Contador ran a 34x30 minimum.

DaveP said...

FWIW - I ran a compact with SRAM 11/28 in the back at D2R2 and 6 gaps last year. It worked, but I would have liked some even lower gearing. This year, I will be using my IRD cassette (11/32?) for 6 gaps and D2R2.

Hey! For those of us not doing Mount Washington, any interest in getting a group together for D2R2?

solobreak said...

With what Shimano is charging for their newer cassettes, an IRD may be the way to go after all.

I am a wuss and will use whatever the lowest gear on my bike is in order to avoid pain, even if it means getting girl dropped. I need to be saved from myself. My 30x32 did not do me any favors, except on Lincoln. I was very happy to have it there.

Mookie said...

Dave-

I'm in for D2R2. Hopefully the 34x28 will be enough for both rides. Last year I had 34x30 min. at D2R2 and that was golden. We'll see...

A

PS There's nothing wrong with getting "girl-ed" as long as she's hot.

plum said...

I've no shame about gearing - last year I blew it and was hopelessly overgeared with 22/32x34t. Hey, I was scared shitless. By the way, that combination will bring you to the finish in about 13 hours. I don't recommend that.

I won't make it to this particular running of 6 Gaps, but when I get there later this year, I will run my compact crank, short-cage XTR rear derailleur, and a 34t mtb cluster. And maybe run a headlamp this time. You never know...