I have missed Six Gap the past few years, so I was excited when the opportunity to ride it came up at the last minute. I decided to make it an extra epic adventure this year by getting up at 1:30AM, driving 4 hours to the start (the time change heading east means getting up even earlier!), riding two laps of the course (208 miles and 23,000 feet of climbing), and finally driving 4 hours back home to Birmingham. Along the way, I managed to snag the 35+ KOM (barely) in a really exciting showdown with Amos Harvey.
Six Gap Lap 1
This event has grown and grown over the years because I believe riders from all over the South have decided that it is a good testing ground at the end of the season to measure their fitness against the climbs in the mountains of North Georgia. A similar (but tougher!) event happens every May at the Cheaha Gran Fondo Ultra, so it’s nice that riders can bookend their seasons with really tough rides.
One of the things that makes Six Gap tough is the back-to-back timed climbs of Hogpen Gap (6.2 miles) and Wolfpen Gap (3.1 miles) coming after hard efforts up Neel’s Gap, Jack’s Gap, and Unicoi Gap. This year saw a split in the front group on Neel’s Gap. I had slid pretty far back in the pack before the start of Neel’s, so I had been passing people all the way up the climb when I noticed there was a small group ahead. I was worried that this group would get away and be the fast group for the climbs. So I bridged across to that group to find Jan Kolar, Amos Harvey, and Mark Fisher drilling it along with a couple other guys. Over the top and into the start of the climb up Jack’s Gap, a couple more guys joined us to make for a somewhat large front group of 6-8 riders.