Posted: Mon Jun. 25, 2012 7:30 pm
6 Gap Ride Report
On Monday I was doing a group ride with Dan. We hit the bike path over near Springfield and I said to Dan, we should do the White Mountains ride on Sunday. He wasn?t able to, but I figured I would post up and see if anyone was interested. After a couple days and no word, I figured, I have the whole day, I might as well just go do the 6 Gap ride, that sounds like fun. Between Brian and I, I think that?s really how the decision to do this ride needs to be made. It?s a crazy ride that should be decided on spur of the moment, because there is honestly nothing around here that can prepare you for it. It?s like having a baby, you can plan and plan, but when it all comes down to it, you either succeed or you don?t. My preparations were emailing Brian to get his cheat sheet and tips, and of course ignored or screwed up most of them. The only thing I did well was go slow, and bring more tubes than you would ever need, just so you don?t get a flat. Slow, yup, tubes, check. The other two big things he told me was start early and do Middlebury Gap first. Well, I didn?t start till 8 and parked in Rochester. Ohh well, onto the nitty gritty.
My day started off by me sleeping through my alarm clock. I didn?t even get out of bed till 5:30. I jumped out of bed, quick shower, gather my clothing and head out. I had prepared most of the stuff the night before, atleast I got that part right. I stop at DD for my long ride/race breakfast ritual of coffee and sausage/egg/cheese on everything bagel and get onto I91. As I?m driving and listening to my music, trying to get my head in the right place for the long day ahead, I look down and my GPS had stopped working, I look over and there is the exit I?m supposed to take. OOops, next exit is 7 miles away and I?m already running behind. So now it is almost 7 and I am have managed to make 2 mistakes. I hope this isn?t an omen for the day. I get off at the next exit, turn around and finally make it to Rochester. I get changed into my gear, everything packed in and jump on the bike. The fog is lifting, the sun is bright and there is just a little breeze. What a day. I start up Brandon gap, just spinning out the legs and enjoying the scenery. I stop and take a couple pictures, and then make it to the top. I take my pictures, proof of being there, and start the descent. What fun, 12% grade for 4 miles and flying.
At the bottom is the familiar convenience store. I have made the decision to top off water bottles at every convenience store I come to if I have even one water bottle empty, which I did at this point. This will give me the opportunity to get a break, and see all the cute girls that Brian got too see on his adventure. Turns out all the cute girls work during the week and the guys and elder people work on the weekends. Ohh well. I fill up and start to pedal away as I see a couple guys coming down the gap. Company!! I turn around and ask them if they are doing the Gap ride today? I?m hoping they are doing at least 4. They say yes, so I ask how many they are planning on doing. They told me they just finished!! Its barely 9 am and they have finished?? I?m a little frustrated, I didn?t think I had started that late. I ask what Gap ride they are doing, 2, 4 or 6. Turns out they are just riding Brandon Gap and going home, but want to know what I?m up to. I tell them the 6 Gap and get a ?good luck with that you moron? look. They tell me good luck and I am off to Middlebury.
I turn onto Middlebury Gap, which starts pretty steep, eases up a bit and get steep again. While climbing I come up to another old convenience store. It was still pretty early on in the ride, so I have a smile on my face and am all happy to be out on my bike. The lady that runs the store is sitting out front and makes the comment that she loves seeing the cyclist come up this hill with a big smile on their face like its nothing. Ok, I guess I have to stop and say Hi. We chat for a minute and I get another Gatorade and refill. I truly love these old stores along routes like this. You walk in and they have the glassed in area with the random items you can buy, the post office is in there also, and they have an old style pull handle cash register. Classic!! OK, time to get headed. I jump back on the bike and pedal my butt to the top of Middlebury. I take a quick break at the top, drink some water, eat some energy bar, have a quick conversation with a couple people hiking, and I am off. Another fast fun descent and another refuel at the bottom. Still waiting to see a cute girl, too bad. Now off to Granville Gulf. So far I am feeling pretty good, enjoying the day and just loving the countryside on my bike. I get to Granville Gulf and stop for a break at the waterfall. I get a few pictures, relax for a minute because I know what is ahead, and then start pedaling again. When I know I am getting near Lincoln I take on a Gu and eat another bar. I am starting to crave some real food, I think its because I know the store, and lunch are on the other side of this beast. Here she is! I start up the ascent of all ascents. The first section is easy, as always, and then comes the pain. I hate, hate, hate this climb and the only thing I can do is tell myself that it won?t last forever. At certain points of the climb I have to stand and put every ounce of energy I have into every pedal stroke and that barely keeps the bike moving. I have done the climb a few times, so I know that I am nearing the top, when all of a sudden, I feel a cramp. OH @%$, and lots of other bad words!! Not good, this is only the 3rd Gap and I am cramping!!! I had to take a quick break. I hate having to admit that I couldn?t make it the whole way without stopping, but I would much rather be able to say I did all 6. After about 30 seconds, I jump back on the bike, went about another minute and had another cramp. Rinse, repeat?.and go again. Finally, no cramps this time and I made it to the top. I eat the rest of my bar, take another gu and drink as much liquid as my stomach can handle. Its downhill from here to the store and lunch, the more I can get into me between now and then end of lunch, the better. I jump back on the bike with an over filled stomach and head down the mountain. For the first time, I ran into people pedaling up the side we always go down. They say ?looks like you went up the easy side, good job? and we continue on. I made it down to the store, where I consumed a wrap, a bag of chips, a bottle of Gatorade and a coke! Phew!! Mentally was still hungry, but my stomach couldn?t take any more. I filled up my bottles and was off to Baby App.
Riding to baby app was pretty uneventful and most of the ascent to App was the same. I had some crotch rockets go by and I kinda wished I was on one of them. When I pedaled past them at the rest stop near the top I asked if they wanted to trade, with no response. Ohh well. I was very happy to see the 1km mark on App, not so happy when I looked up and to the left and saw that the nasty climb for the last 500 meters was still there. OUCH!! My legs had started to recover from Lincoln, so I was able to make this climb. I crossed the little finish marker, crossed the road and chatted with the cyclist sitting there who had done the climb from the other side. We took our pictures, conversed about how beautiful the day is, and were both on our way. I LOVE the descent from App. Fast, windy, lots of guardrails to avoid, did I mention FAST!! I get to the bottom and find myself in a position I have been in a few other times. I have just finished 4 of the 6 gaps??and I COULD just ride back to the car and go home. There is a shortcut from here. HMMMMM!! Gotta do all 6. Off to Roxbury. I make it to the little town, left onto Main, left onto Brook and head up to Roxbury Mtn Road. Right at the beginning of the main climb is a sign, Steep Windy road, must have snow tired!! No snow tires here, Oh well. I eat a little food, take on some water and start the climb. At this point I am ~95 miles in and my legs are just dead tired. Maybe doing The Pinnacle and 2 of the hardest paced rides of the year, then this ride all in 1 week wasn?t the smartest idea I have ever had. All I can do is close my eyes, grit my teeth and keep pedaling. The road turns upward and into dirt, which makes the climbing even worse. I am having to bounce and bob just to keep the pedals going, but that they are. I have no idea how long I was going for, it felt like an hour, but finally my legs had just had enough again and I had to stop. Damn!! Guess my fitness isn?t quite where I thought it was, or mentally I just didn?t have it, who knows. I stopped for about 10 seconds and started going again. After a little while longer, I finally made it to the top. During the ascent my phone had started beeping at me. I check the message and its DAN O?NEILL!!! ?Where the hell are you, Mark and I just road 50 miles and climbed 4000?!! We need Kudos on Strava!!? I respond with ?I?m suffering at the top of Roxbury Gap, 100 miles in! Suffering of this magnitude should be illegal, then my stupid ass wouldn?t be out here!? or something like that. I make the nasty descent down the dirt hill and onto Rochester. I was actually very excited to see 15+ miles of almost all flat road ahead of me. This would give me a chance to eat, drink and spin the calories back into my legs, because honestly my legs were so toast at this point I wasn?t sure if I could do any more. I stopped at a gas station, downed a monster and, a bottle of water and topped off my water bottles. Finally, off to the last mountain. At this point, I am a little dazed, very tired and losing track of time just a bit. I am pedaling along and think to myself, jeez, I have been pedaling for quite some time, when is the turn to Rt. 12. I stop, find the oldest people I can find to ask for directions, get what I need to know, and continue on. I make the right turn on to 12, then the right onto Camp Brook road. The initial climb is not bad at all and I am actually enjoying it thinking YAY, I?m almost done. Should have paid more attention to the damn website, because I was completely un-prepared for what I was coming up to. The road went on for awhile, with nothing too steep, but like they say on the website, you keep seeing that ridgeline in the distance and think to yourself; no way am I going up and over that. Yeah, keep telling yourself that! Sure enough, with 2 miles to go, the road turns into a wall, and I hit it head on. My legs were complete toast and screaming at me with every pedal stroke. No matter how hard I hit that shifting lever, the pedaling just did not get any easier. I stand for a couple pedal strokes, sit down, stand up, sit down, ect? Finally, it hit, probably the closest to completely bonking I will ever be and hopefully never have to deal with it again. I had to just stand there for a minute. My heart felt like it was going to pound out of my chest, my legs were on fire and I couldn?t believe that I had to stop AGAIN!! I took a swig of water, did the virtual slap in the face and ?WAKE UP!!?, jumped back on the bike and suffered to the top!! ?Rochester Gap 2109 Feet? I?ve done it!! A couple fast miles down and I am back at my van with a huge feeling of accomplishment, with only a couple slight frustrations about having to stop so many times on the climbs. I walk over to the Rochester store and finally, a cute girl. My day is complete. I get a chocolate milk, change out of my ?peter pan tights? as my best friend Adam calls them, and head home. All told, about 10 hours from start to finish, lots of mental tests, physical tests and another item off my bucket list. Now onto the next one!!
"If you brake, you don't win." Racer Mario Cipollini