Riding This Week


Chainbuster MTB Racing Series - Georgia's friendliest MTB racing. 6 & 9 Hour Endurance racing for solo or teams.

Dirty Spokes - Duathlon and Trail running series. Love these guys. First class events.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

2012 Hills of Habersham Ride

On a beautiful fall day I joined some great friends for a cool ride in the Hills of Habersham, Georgia. This ride raises money for the Habersham Chamber of Commerce. The ladies who run the Chamber are super fun and worked very hard to take care of the riders. It started from the Ruby Fulbright Aquatic Center in Clarkesville, GA.

I planned to spend this ride with my friend Joe Elam, Owner of Habersham Bicycles. He's a good Christian man who runs a great business right on Hwy 365 at Anderson Village where Mickey Piggs BBQ is. I buy all my bikes from Joe. He's always been fair and honest. Like most people I'm lured by the online world with offers to save $10 dollars on a tire or something. But unlike most people I understand the absolute need to spend my money locally with a business I trust. There's also the benefit of not having to hassle with warranty issues. Joe and I and others have collaborated on a club team for years and it's been fun. So this ride I wanted to hang out with Joe and support his efforts there.

The usual suspects arrived shortly after I did and declared their intentions to stay together and ride as a group for fun. In our group were Stephen Sisk, Benny Bohanon, David Latty, David Shabat, Scott Wheeler, David Park, Brian Horton and others. I noticed Sean Philyaw at the start but he's too fast for us. He even beat us to the shower at the end.

Brian Horton
Stephen Sisk and I were especially excited about our ride because we had some new hottness on our bikes. Stephen was sporting some new shifters, bar and stem, brakes, rear derailleur, and even some flashy new decals on his titanium steed. Oh and a new ceramic bottom bracket too.
He smiled a lot now that I think about it.
I had my new American Classic Tubeless Road Wheels on my Ritchey Breakaway Ti for their first ride. So pretty. It is my understanding that the two white spokes on each wheel made them look "wobbly" as I rode. But trust me... they were smooth and fast!

Ritchey Breakaway w/ AC Tubeless
We headed toward Cornelia and the Big Red Apple Festival. We never actually saw the festival because the route detoured around it but I here there were thousands of funnel cakes sold.
We enjoyed a cool morning of riding and talking. The SAG stations provided great snacks like Nutter Butters, Oreos, PB&J, and for some reason I was especially excited about the zip-lock bags of M&M's. Nobody noticed they were there until I pulled them out during the ride. Then it became an "awe shucks" moment for the guys. It was surprisingly difficult to eat M&M's out of a zip-lock bag while riding.

There were 3 moments I remember from the ride. The Breakfast Club, a hunter in the woods, and the mustard theory. First there was a moment early on in the ride that I noticed a lot of 4x4 trucks passing us along what seemed like deserted roads. Then we road up on a shack. A breakfast serving shack built on the side of the river we were riding by. I could smell the biscuits, the gravy, the eggs, THE BACON! I stuck my nose up to get as much of that beautiful southern smell as I could. Then I noticed all the 4x4 trucks parked out front. Lucky dogs.

The second thing I remember was climbing past a small truck backed into the woods and thinking "there must be a hunter in there". I didn't think hunting season opened for another week and so if there was a hunter in there he probably wasn't prepared to shoot anything. For that reason I felt safe in yelling out "Don't Shoot Me!!" at the top of my lungs. I was shocked when a voice screamed something back at me from deep in the woods. We all looked at each other and laughed. It was really funny. Glad he didn't shoot me though.

The final bit of fun came at Joe's expense. He went a little too hard in the beginning and just before we reached to major climb for the day, Raper Mountain, Joe began to slow. He fell off the pace in the miles before the climb. I stopped on the way up to wait for him. While I was there I took some cool video.

Joe Elam climbs Raper Mountain, Clarkesville, GA
When I finally saw Joe I took some video of him on the climb. He looked to be moving around .005 MPH. I stopped recording after it looked like he would make it to the flatter section I was on and when I did... he locked up solid with cramps. His legs were twitching so badly I could see the cramps rolling through the muscle fibers in his legs. I told him I wasn't recording anymore and he said he knew it. He purposely kept mashing up that climb until I put the camera down. Once he eased off... the cramps hit him.
We stood together on the side of the road for a few minutes and a rider came up. He offered Joe two packets of mustard. You read correctly, yellow mustard. Like the kind you put on a hot dog. I'd heard of this before. People say that when you're cramping, mustard gets rid of them. Well... it worked. Joe ate two packs of mustard and got back on the bike. We made our way on up to the top of the climb and for the most part he said the cramps were gone.
I...was amazed. I'd never seen it work in real life. I will have two packs of mustard in my saddle bag from now on.

I also need to mention my friend David Shabat's ride for the day. His wife and son were riding the two best bikes in the house and David didn't want to miss out on this ride. So he brought the first bike he ever bought... for his wife. To clarify, he rode a 30 pound aluminum mountain bike he converted to a road bike for this ride. It had a kick stand. We found that to be very handy at the SAG stations for reasons you can see in the picture. And a flat bar. The only thing David had going for him was the mountain bike gearing...which he really couldn't use if he wanted to keep up with us. So, hats off to my friend for making it happen against all odds.

We made our way to the town of Batesville where I found some more M&M's and some tasty pretzels. Leaving Batesville we traveled down a fun decent beside the river on Hwy 197 back to one of my favorite towns, Clarkesville. It was a great ride. A memorable ride. I can't wait to do this one next year. With mustard.

Here's some more photo's!!!

Thanks for reading!

Chad Hayes

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

2012 Sproctoberfest at Gainesville College

This weekend was special. It's the first time any of my girls has shown interest in racing with me. My 12 year old Molly has been practicing on her Mom's mountain bike for a few months. She even asked her Mom to take her to pre-ride the course the Friday before the race! Now to be fair, Molly is a pleaser. If you have more than one child you understand that God makes them...different. Molly wants everyone to be happy with her. She loves to hear you say you're proud of her. She works very hard to than end. She also stresses herself out sometimes.
Ellie Hayes at the kids race.

My youngest daughter Ellie is quite a bit different. She's my little individual. A real free thinker. She's got a stubborn streak that gets her in trouble. But she's very loving and very protective. She may get tired of her sister sometimes but let someone threaten her and Ellie turns into a Rottweiler.

Ellie and I got up on Saturday morning and headed over to the start of the Good News for Gainesville Ride. I wanted to see my friends and donate a little money to this great cause. They had a great turn out and I'm sure a great ride. It was good to see Alex Sloan and finally meet Mrs. Sloan. The Baxter's guys were filing in and I saw Joe Elam before we had to leave. I'm sorry I missed this great ride with good people. I did notice that WDUN Radio was there blasting out tunes! How cool is that! Thank you to them for supporting cycling in Georgia!!

We met Lisa, Molly, and Bill Mashburn and Matt Williams whom we shared a tent with. I didn't want to miss a minute of the kids riding so I didn't get dressed before the kids race. At the start Ellie stayed with the big kids for a while but soon the grassy field took it's tole. When she finally made it around the lake I could tell she wasn't happy about the whole thing. All I could think was... "that's my girl!" Angry that she couldn't keep up. It didn't take long for her to get over it though and she spent the rest of the day playing on the college ropes course with some friends she made.

The start of the 6Hr race began with a run to the bikes. I wasn't nervous but I did want to get a good start so I wouldn't be behind a ton of riders. I'd be out there for around 3.5 hours because Molly first had to go play in a flag football game at the church. The girls enjoyed the fact that I ran past my bike... and they got it on film.
So I basically settled in to a solo effort. I didn't get a chance to warm up at all and boy did I pay for that. I started out good but about 5 minutes later my adrenaline ran out and I felt like crap.

I worked for the next 2 hours to build up a big lead on the rest of the coed category. I figured I needed the most I could get because Molly would probably take around 10 mins longer on her lap.
My body tried to let me know I needed to slow down but I kept thinking about Molly. There's some serious motivation involved with racing on a team with your daughter. I desperately wanted to get on the podium with her so I ignored all the warning signs my body was giving me and soldiered on. Drinking and eating and sweating and stretching. Wow my back hurts! Yikes... better not fully extend my legs...that was a cramp that almost happened. Why is my finger numb? Nothing like aggravating a Six Gap saddle sore! But none of it matters. You are DADDY!! Be the Dad! Push through the pain! She's worth it!!

And so just in time they showed up to give me a break and let Molly get in her one lap. I was ready too. Just so you know, Lisa took pictures and Ellie took the video. I was upset with her videography skills until I saw her last installment which you'll see at the end of this story. After that I just forgot about being mad.
Molly and I made a great exchange and I headed to the tent...and a chair. I figured I had around 45 minutes. After taking a breath I grabbed the video camera and rode into the trail to catch Molly riding. But she was fast enough that I missed her... twice!

She completed her first lap in 39 minutes 45 seconds. Very nice! She looked tired. Don't we all. And so I hopped back on for what I thought would be two more hours of happy trails. I pushed through another lap and when I popped out of the woods to ride around the lake I could hear my family yelling for me. What a great sound! There's something special about your wife cheering for you. And nothing is sweeter than my little girls yelling "Go Daddy Go!"
When I came close to the start and realized Molly was ready to do another lap! I couldn't believe it! She just smiled and said I'll try my best Daddy.

Oh well I thought... we may not be on the podium but at least she raced as many laps as the adult women did. She took a little over 42 mins to do her second lap. I had no idea where we were in the standings after that but I figured I might as well give us our best chance anyway. It was double caffeine gel time! (and two Advil)

I really enjoyed competing against John and Farrah Galley from Lester's Body Shop. They are super cool people. Farrah was so much fun and very encouraging to Molly. She and John were the typical coed team. John was super competitive and only wanted to sit down and rest while Farrah was riding. By contrast Farrah was up and talking to everyone and having a blast while John hammered his brains out to win. Ahhh... marriage.
It's all good John! Just remember... Happy Wife, Happy Life!

The first lap was ok but on my second and final lap I could feel the chill of cramps working into my legs and the back of my arms. My focus was on my daughter though and I pushed as hard as I could without locking up the running gear. Lisa yelled to me that we were back in 3rd Place as I passed through so I knew I just needed to stay on the bike. It's a lonely old trail when you're searching for the perfect way to pedal without cramping. I needed to stand and relieve my saddle sore but that created the possibility of leg cramps. And so here's today's lesson for you folks. If you squat and don't fully extend your legs while you stand it will prevent your legs from cramping. At least it did for me... during that race. Of course if your arms are cramping and you have shoulder pain all bets are off.

When I came through the Start/Finish I was so... relieved. I just needed to do an average lap and not screw it up. And so I did.

2012 Tumbling Creek 6 Hr MTB Coed Podium
Here's the Ellie produced video featuring her own special blend of special effects.

Dustin Mealor, 2nd Place 39 Under Solo

We were all very tired. But the day was hardly over. We heading to the Stamphills house to watch Georgia get beat in high definition. Before that we watched Dustin Mealor get his just rewards as the 2nd Place finisher in the 39 Under Solo category. Bill and Matt took 4th in the 2 Person race with friends Stephen Masopust and Marcus Seymore taking 1st Place. Todd Bowers, Caleb Adams, and Meredith Burnett took 3rd in the 6 Hr 3 Person category.

Young Dylan Cantrell competed in his first 6 hr mountain bike race a brought home 2nd Place in the Junior 18 and Under category. This kid rides the Tuesday night throwdown with us and completed the Bridge to Bridge ride a few weeks ago. He's living proof that cramping isn't an old mans problem. I gave him some electrolytes during the race and he pushed through for a great podium spot. His Mom and Dad were very proud. I like this family.

Dylan Cantrell, 2nd Place Junior Solo
And now I'll wrap this up with Ellie's final video. She enjoyed having unfettered use of my Sony Bloggie video camera. I hope to see you all at the Hills of Habersham this weekend and then the Lt. Governor's Century on October 20th!!!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

2012 Six Gap Century

It's a terrible thing to loose fitness and your brain not know it until it's too late. The past few months I've had to back off on my normal insane amounts of training. I've noticed that instead of dictating the pace on rides I've been more content to just sit in. But that's all that has changed since I last raced my bike. Well this Sunday I put power to the pedals for 104 miles in the mountains of North Georgia and learned what my body is currently capable of doing. It was good. But not to the level that my brain thought we were still at. A fact that became painfully obvious after 50 miles of riding at a top end pace.

Some people I know have a way of convincing themselves that reality isn't the truth. They say things like, "Awe that'll never happen" or "It'll all turn out OK". Point of fact they are lazy. They deal with things after it happens to them. I can't be that way. I'm too hyper focused. I need a plan. I need to understand the obstacles before me and eliminate the problems before they hurt me or the ones I love. I hate the idea of being reactive instead of proactive.
But I understand that God made us all different. I don't judge others. Just don't expect many sympathies from yours truly when stuff happens to you that you could have prevented. I don't mean when you make a bad decision. Heck I make plenty. You have to try things sometimes. Some folks never let ignorance stand in the way of making a bad decision though or just cross their fingers and hope nothing bad happens? But me...Negative.

However, I allowed myself to think I could press on through an event like Six Gap with the same ease and happiness that I did last year without doing all the work and preparations I normally do. I focused on other things and suffered the consequences. I knew the date was coming, I just treated it with costly disregard. And boy did I pay for it.

The first 50 miles were the usual blissfully strong riding I'm accustomed to. My friends Benny Bohanon, David Shabat, and Craig Tinsley were there. Craig had been riding like crazy the past few months. Two weeks earlier he rode the Bridge to Bridge ride in North Carolina. The day before this he competed in a 6 Hr mountain bike race at Jack Rabbit Trail. So I felt the need to shepperd my friend if he was going to "do the double". As you'll read below it turns out he didn't need the help. But I channeled my inner Christian Vande Velde and paced my leader (Ryder) up the climbs. At least that's where I derived my enthusiasm.

By the time we reached Hog Pen I could feel the error of my ways. Despite eating and drinking everything I needed to, I could feel the power slipping away from my legs. It was too far, it was too much, it was too bad because I had no way out accept to climb three more mountains. I went into damage control mode. I ate electrolytes like candy. I even tried some fruit dates from Craigs zip lock bag. And like any good endurance athlete I worked on some positive phrases in my head. "You are powerful!" "You are strong!" Things like that.
Robert Loomis in the lead group on Unicoi

My problem wasn't the dreaded bonk. It was a combination of dehydration and plain old lack of training. I hadn't been drinking water all week. The cramps started to hit me on the Wolf Pen climb. I nursed them in the back of my legs, the back of my arms, and of all places in the center of my left foot. The toe beside my pinkie toe was missing in action for the entire climb. And the thing is I never really panicked. I felt like crap but it was nothing I hadn't felt before. I had a long way to go but I knew I could get there. It dawned on me while I made my way up the climb that this feeling of quasi confidence can only be learned through experiences. Bad experiences. And when I make things really easy for my kids and never let them fail, I rob them of this kind of confidence. So I added this to my damage control phrases and pushed to the top of the climb; "This will make you stronger!"

When I rounded the last turn on Wolf Pen I could hear my good friend David at the top yelling words of encouragement. David was fighting his own demons which he skillfully details in the story below I stole from his Facebook page. It's dedicated to his Endurance Athlete friends. He too has placed himself in demanding situations and understood my pain.

Anyway, I pushed on through the ride knowing that I would finish. I needed to look back and say I did my best because it sucks to think you could have done more. There are details I could share but they've been covered in the stories from my friends I've posted below. Bottom line: I had fun and felt successful. Thanks guys!

2012 Six Gap Century
Story by David Shabat

How many times have you heard from at least one person you know:  "Why do you do that stupid stuff?  You run or bike all the time.  You're always working out.  You're hardly any fun to be around anymore."  I haven't heard it in a while, since I've surrounded myself with people who have come to appreciate why I do what I do, and a lot of folks who are right there with me.  Yesterday, I was saying those words to myself. As I was ascending Hogpen Gap, the most brutal climb on the Six Gap route, I just blurted out "I am having a serious case of "I don't give a crap!".  Yes, there I was, 60 miles into the 104 mile century, just out of my mental game.  I've done the climb several times.  I've run it as well as biked it.  My brain wanted to melt down.  How many times do you have to climb Hogpen before you stop caring about getting to the top of Hogpen? How many times? You never stop caring.  You watch your buddies suffering with you.  You turn the cranks or put one foot in front of the other and you remember who you are.  You are the one who gets things done.  You may be different, but you are the "white sheep" of the family.  You know that the pain is temporary.  You know that the climb will end and you'll never forgive yourself if you give up for any reason other than physical.  You keep turning the cranks.
*   *   *

I was up at 4:15.  Coffee was brewing and I was loading the truck by 4:25.  It was a perfect day for a bike ride - with arm warmers.  Lenka and I drove to pick up our friend, Ann, and drove to Dahlonega... there around 6:15.  The parking lot was already full.  Amazingly, Chad and I parked just a few cars away from each other, so we could talk shop early and get the day going.  We prepped and were on the line in plenty of time to be near the start line, but not at the line, since this year, they corralled us into "sub 6 hour expected finish" and "more than 6 hour expected finish".  We planned to finish in around 7 hours, clock time, including stops/breaks (mind you that means off the "race/ride clock", not our bike computers, which measure ride time).  Chad, our buddy Benny, and I were lined up together.  Six Gap starts are kind of home town, since it's not a race, per se, but it's just fairly laid back if you're not in the "sub6" group.  So, we got off to a good start and picked up our ringer for the day, Craig.

We kept a nice, relaxed pace for what I'll call the prologue. Chad led our pack and was our team leader for the day.  He called the shots, set the pace, and was the overall motivator to keep us going all day long.  I had to stop and use the restroom at an unexpected point on the way... the corner before we begin the ascent up Blood Mountain to Neels Gap - first ascent of the day.  But, you can't climb well if you can't use your ab muscles without having an accident.  Craig, Chad, and I kept a tight pack up to Neels.  Benny caught us in no time at the top, and we headed out to Jack's Gap.  Again, we held a tight 3-man formation, but the climbs weren't so easy for me; at least they didn't feel as easy as they did last year.  Benny caught us on Jacks, and I took a turn to pull, though it was was mostly downhill, to the base of the climb to Unicoi.  I had a few "challenges" from other riders, who were "inertially enhanced", but for the most part, we kept a great downhill pace in the high 20s and low 30s.  The climb up Unicoi was a struggle, but we enjoyed it, like we always enjoy Unicoi.  When we reached the gap, we recovered, but Benny told us to go on, that he'd take things at his own pace... which was really not much different from ours, but just slightly out-of-sync enough to make him choose to send us on our way.  Chad had 3 rules: 1) Have FUN 2) Try to break 7 hours clock time 3) Don't let rule #2 get in the way of rule #1.  We may have a chance to break 7 hours on the clock if we pull the now smaller pack into order.

As expected, we flew down Unicoi.  Chad was on fire.  He has such grace on the bike, I had to keep my head straight because I knew I couldn't keep up with him AND maintain safe control of my bike.  I also still felt skittish about my crash a few weeks ago.  I had a post-Goose/ Maverick feeling when I hit hard downhill curves.  But, I still kept Chad within my sights.

What can you say about Hogpen?  At least it's not Brasstown?  Be thankful you have the ability to climb?

As we began the primary ascent, I had a mental meltdown.  I didn't care about Hogpen anymore.  I have climbed it on foot and on bike.  I think I had more fun on foot.  But, today, we're on bikes.  This is where Craig's year of training and racing has really paid off.  After the primary ascent, I got my head right.  I had no choice.  For the past 5 years, I have been the guy who does stuff outside his comfort zone on purpose.  I was not going to let a bout of the "I don't give a craps" get me.  So, I downshifted to my 28 cog and just spun my way up with Chad... while Craig pulled away until he had at least 30 seconds on us.  We kept sort of quiet.  Nobody wants to huff and puff because it does you no good.  No one would dare complain... we're salty veterans on this climb.  So, we just kept turning the cranks until we got to the top and were greeted with cheers and some of the best food on the ride. But then I got that sinking feeling about the descent.  Last year I hit 67 mph on the back side of Hogpen.  This year, I held a VERY conservative pace and got it to around 50 mph and held steady.  The curves were not nearly as in-my-face as last year.  There was no snap decision on when/how to execute a curve.  I saw everything coming and had plenty of reaction time.  My stomach settled just in time to turn the corner and realize...I was completely out of gas. We still had to climb Wolfpen Gap, which is the "Winding Stair" of road riding in Georgia.

Again, Craig was looking great, and he took a pace that was comfortably faster than me and Chad. Chad had his nose to the wind for us 95% of the time.  He gave the rest of us the option to take it easy while he pushed a great pace on the flats and rollers.  We were both on the suffer train.  But, Chad had an extra joy... a full-size (39/53) racing crankset, while I had a compact (36/50) crankset.  Those three teeth in the front make a HUGE difference when climbing.  But, Chad, just kept turning those cranks.  I know he was suffering right there with me, with an even more difficult climb on the bigger crank.  My hat is off to Chad.  Wolfpen was our toughest climb of the day. Chad led us out from Wolfpen to our final major ascent, Woody's. We had to take it a little easier.  Although we ate well and hydrated well, we were just wiped out compared to Craig, who was still as froggy as a SEAL on his first mission.  We cranked it up Woody's without a wasted moment.  By then, my wits were gone, I started blaming the bike for not shifting right, I had not completely bonked, but I was on my way.

Then an angel appeared before me.

I went to the refreshment area and said "I have an odd request.  There was this angel who saved my skin last year with an ice cold Coke Zero.  Is she here this year?"  They pointed me to the lady in her blue jacket... she waved her hands at me "What else have you got?  OK, I'm an angel, I've heard that before".  So I showered this lady with every compliment I could muster from my oatmeal brain.  I think that when I started getting incoherent, even to myself, she went to her truck, and pulled out a Coke Zero from her PERSONAL COOLER and gave it to me.  I offered her cash.  She would only accept my gratitude.  Finally, after a few minutes of chugging the coke, the caffeine kicked in and I started feeling like a person again.We pushed our way down Woody's, again with our captain, Chad in command of all the turns... which made it easy for us, since we could follow his line.  We caught up with a young lady who was also flying down the mountain. But, we got stuck behind some cars who were waiting on other cyclists who didn't have our "sense of adventure".  On one hard curve, there was a cyclist down.  He lost it in the curve, a left hand curve with a cliff.... JUST LIKE MY CURVE.  My stomach was a little sick looking at him at the side of the road.  He wasn't going to be riding home like I did.  I felt such a mix of luck and sadness and gratitude in my heart.  We held pace until the traffic fixed itself and we went back to our high 30s pace down the mountain.  There was another crash on the road into the "offshoot development" turn we had to make.  So, we had one last moment of excitement before the "worst part of the ride".

The last 10 or so miles of the ride is the kick in the teeth.  We had constant high-pitch rollers the whole way.  We had a few miles of open road, but even that was on an uphill grade.  Otherwise, we were either downshifting or upshifting.  Then we finally got onto Black Mountain Road, and received our last kick in the teeth of the day.  We passed the 7 hour clock time and tried to just shrug it off.  We had done more than 100 miles within 7 hours on the clock.  No one got hurt.  We shared our suffering.  And I got another day of cycling with my brother Chad.  So, we eased the pace and cruised in to a 7:04 finish.  We changed out of our very used up gear, and went into Lumpkin County High for what is always one of the best meals of the year.

I was extra thankful that Lenka and Ann drove with me, so Lenka could drive us home.  I fell asleep in the back seat of the truck, before we even pulled out of the parking lot, and didn't wake up until we dropped Ann off in Toccoa.  I am truly grateful for my friends, for the ability to ride, and for the underlying mental persistence that refuses to fail me, even when I wish it would.


2012 Six Gap Century
Benny Bohannon

The bike ride today was a lot of fun, but I sure am tired! It's called the 6 Gap Century, and takes place in the mountains near Dahlonega.
I started out this AM meeting up with 3 of the guys from Habersham Cycles. Chad Hayes, David Shabat, and Craig Tinsley. Those are some of the guys I ride with on Tuesday Nights. I do good on Tuesday nights just to stay in sight of the lead group. We even had on our matching jerseys.

Their goal was to finish the 104 mile ride in less than 7 hours.... I told them I knew I couldn't do that, but they insisted I could, and that we would all hang together and "Have Fun". So we hung together. We left the start at the school at 7:30 this morning. We got there at 6 AM, so we could line up at the front and get a good start. There were almost 2800 riders lined up behind us! When they opened the gate, we lit out flying, like the Tour de France! We were the fastest of the fast, right up there in the front.

Occasionally I would catch a glimpse behind me, as all the other riders crowded the road, their shoulders undulating as they moved in one big mass, like a river of multi-colored jerseys. Pretty cool stuff. We probably averaged over 26 mph for the first 18 miles before the first Mountain, Neel's Gap. I knew I couldn't keep up that pace for very long, so I let them lead up the first mountain. After a while, I dropped into my own pace, and they slipped away. They got to the top about 5 minutes before me, but were all waiting on me, and said it was no problem. We all rode together again until the next mountain (Jack's Gap), where they waited about 7 minutes for me. I knew they wanted to finish in under 7 hours, but they kept saying to stay with them anyway. On the way up the 3rd Mountain, Unicoi Gap, I started cramping. My muscles were letting me know I was going way beyond my abilities. When I got to the top, I told them in no uncertain terms to go on, and finish, and that I would have to ride at my own pace to finish the 104 miles. So we all did the fist-bump, and they went on. I didn't see them again until the end. I enjoyed the rest of the ride, talking to people, suffering up the climbs, and flying down the mountains. The other mountains include Hogpen Gap, Wolfpen Gap, and Woody's Gap. Hogpen is the granddaddy, with over 8 miles at up to a 16% grade. Whew!  

I finished in 7:35, which was about 45 minutes faster than last year. I guess the fast start really made up some time. The other guys came in at 7:05, which really wasn't too bad either. I saw some of the guys from Apalachee Cyles in Dacula, the other group I ride with. A couple of them finished in 6:34-6:39 ! That's an hour faster than me! Wow.
Others finished after I did, so that was fine too. Everyone was just happy to make it in. It was a lot more fun after it was over, that's for sure.
They fed us a big spaghetti supper afterwards, so now I am full, sore, and sleepy. And I also got a cool "T" shirt out of the deal.


Thanks guys for taking time to write it down! I look forward to seeing you at all the rides coming up for the rest of 2012. Check them out at the top of the page.

And now here's some crazy facts about the Six Gap Century:

  • There were 2,595 cyclists that participated in the Six Gap Century & Three Gap Fifty Bike Ride this year! 
  • An estimated 4,000 man hours went into the planning and execution of the Ride by Chamber staff and over 350 volunteers.
  • Almost 3,000 gallons of water and Heed/Gatorade were used at the 9 rest stops.
  • Over the course of the Ride, cyclists consumed 1,200 lbs of bananas, 300 lbs of apples, 250 lbs of grapes, and 200 lbs of oranges.
  • Our rest stop volunteers made an estimated 8,500 PB&J sandwiches. 
  • The Lumpkin County High School cafeteria staff fed our riders over 2,600 lbs of spaghetti