On the final weekend of July, an incredible 14 riders packed up for two nights and one crazy day of riding in Vermont. The Six Gaps ride, a route going up and over Middlebury, Lincoln, Appalachian, Roxbury, Rochester and Brandon Gaps in the Green Mountains has become something of an annual MIT masochist tradition. Nothing brings a group together quite like a marathon day in the saddle covering over 130 miles and climbing more than 11,000 feet. Even with a few inevitable mechanicals, everyone completed the ride! Many thanks to Dmitro for organizing this year’s trip! We hope to be back next year (after most of us have had plenty of time to forget about the suffering).
Carolyn explains how she found herself joining the ride:
“This insane adventure began in a now-familiar fashion: with a gentle nudge from Amy:
“I’ve never really ridden bikes much; at least, nothing that wasn’t a beach cruiser or a mountain bike. Even since joining the team 9 months ago I wouldn’t exactly nominate myself as “proficient” in any aspect of riding a bike. So when the call for the 6-gaps ride came out–135 miles and 12000 ft of climbing—I of course decided it would be well-measured decision. To prepare, I followed a rigorous regiment of 2-3 rides per week, totaling around 90 miles each week and amassed a total of approximately 2000ft of climbing in my last 3 months of riding. The picture of health, thoroughly trained, and stubborn as a stick in the mud I entered the week with full faith that these mountains would be but speed bumps in my path.
On 6:30am Saturday, we set off and beaming with confidence, I rattled my way with the rest of the crew down the second half of the Brandon descent. One hour and one Middlebury Gap later, I was inclined to believe my training program was more than enough; my legs only throbbed with 7/10 intensity, and I had managed to keep in touch with the group all the way up the hill. This feeling of success however was shattered, along with most of my will, on the second half of Lincoln Gap which I attacked with full intensity simply to avoid a prolonged track-stand practice or a nature hike up the hill. Gasping for air at the top, jersey open, sweat pouring out, water bottles empty I boldly declared to myself that I was ⅓ down, ⅓ to go. The rest of the day (another 8 hours) laid ahead and to make a long story short, over the rest of the ride I:
- Ate at least 12 bars of the Clif or Nature Valley variety
- Drank about 3 gallons ( I think) of poorly mixed Gatorade
- Fell hard into some rocks on Baby gap
- Bonked on App gap
- Made full use of my disk brakes on descents
- Ate 80% of a loaf of bread generously donated by Amy
- Sat on the group’s wheel for about 20 miles
- Got aggressively saddle-sore at mile 90
- Bonked on Rochester
- Bonked, recovered, then Bonked again on Brandon
- Stood up all the way down Brandon because my ass and my legs hurt
All in all, 6 gaps was an incredibly awesome, tiring, and humbling experience. It certainly cemented my love for (type 2 and 3) fun and also my appreciation for being able to be part of an awesome team of people that make even the most painful experiences fun. Looking forward to some more extended “#coffee rides” with the team for the foreseeable future”.
“Six Gaps was a wonderful mix of Type 1 and Type II fun – although mostly Type 1 thanks to the amazing group of people I had the pleasure to complete it with (see https://www.rei.com/blog/climb/fun-scale for a great explanation)! Climbing gaps sucked – and by that I mean I wheel-sucked Tobi up all of them, who wins the award for the most consistent rider. Lincoln really put me to the test – it was by far the steepest road I’ve ever been on. I zigzagged my way up so slowly my Garmin auto-paused on me (sad reacts only). I really thought I was going to puke coming to the end of the climb; but I’m happy to have made it up in one piece, and without walking! For better or for worse, I am now much more comfortable biking on the left side of the road. On other Type 1 fun notes, our group made uncountable country store stops, zoomed down the descents, pacelined the flat sections as a big family, cooked an amazing dinner with real food (not straight sugar!), stargazed in the evening, and some of us even hopped in the pond adjacent our Airbnb for a refreshing cool-off! Despite intense suffering (or perhaps because of it), this is definitely a highlight of my summer”.
Michael offers his take:
“From the moment I learned of the *experience* that is Six Gaps, I was all in. Some people need to have the latest iPhone or watch the latest Marvel movie. I needed to ride Six Gaps. And boy, it did not fail to live up to the hype. I must have experienced the full spectrum of human emotions on that ride, from the despair of climbing up the 24% grade on the Lincoln Gap to the exhilarating chase to catch the fast group on Brandon Gap. At some point along the Roxbury Gap when the road shot up towards the heavens, the morale got so bad that I considered hopping (or rather, falling) off my bike and calling an Uber back to the house…but then realized how expensive that ride would cost (and the logistical nightmare that would entail) and resigned myself to finish the ride. It had been a long time since I’ve had to dig this deep and I feel as if some dormant part of me was awakened by this experience. Looking back, I’m glad I didn’t call that Uber (or was it because I had no signal? I forget…) because the sense of accomplishment, the endless stories and friendships built from that ordeal are things I will cherish for a lifetime”.