Six Gap Century is just a few weeks away. Here are some training tips and strategy that will help you ride your best Six Gap -
1. Training – in the weeks leading up to the event, perform a simulation ride over a distance similar in time and distance to Six Gap. A good time for a simulation ride is 14 days and again 7 days before the event. If you live in an area with no long climbs, simulate climbing by riding in a big gear (low cadence) for extended periods of time, similar to the time you will spend climbing at Six Gap.
2. Taper- in the final days before the event it’s important to cut back significantly on your ride time. If your last hard ride is 7 days before the event, you can fill the days that follow with short, recovery rides where the focus is on leg speed and a few short bursts to add some snap back to your legs. If a long drive is required to get to the event, try and spin your legs out when you arrive. Also remember to wear your compression socks for the long drive.
3. Pre Ride Recon – if you have never ridden Six Gap before, or are tentative when descending, it’s a good idea before the event to go over the Gaps and especially the descents that follow. Pre ride recon will give you greater confidence as you will know what to expect.
4. Pre Race Meals – already 2 nights before the event, eat a meal rich in carbohydrates. The night before should also include lots of carbohydrates. In the 24 hours before the event, drink lots of fluids, both water and sports drinks with extra electrolytes. Avoid drinking only water as this can result in increased fluid loss. Being an early start event, avoid eating too heavy a meal for breakfast. Rather get your big meal the night before and some carbs like oat meal, toast with honey, or cereal in the morning of the event.
5. Pacing Strategy – to achieve your best Six Gap time, you should try to hang on to the strongest group you can follow up the climbs so that you can take advantage of drafting a pack on the downhills, flat sections and on some of the lesser steep climbs. To achieve this be prepared to go deep on the first two climbs of Neels and Jacks, knowing that once a natural selection has formed, your group will ride at a steadier pace up until Hog Pen where it’s every man for himself.
6. Feeding strategy – A good strategy is to eat one energy bar (200+ calories) at the top of each Gap. Also fill both bottles with a good sports drink. You want to aim for 300+ calories/hour or 70-90 grams of carbohydrates. Force yourself to eat in the first 2-3 hours knowing that this will give you the reserves necessary to be able to finish strong. The hotter it is the more you will have to drink. Start the day with a big bottle of your favorite sports drink before the event start. Once the ride has begun, take large sips of your cycling bottle every 20-30 minutes throughout the ride.
7. The Final Gaps – up and after Hogpen, you are better off working with another rider or a small group of cyclists than going it alone. If you are alone after Hogpen and there is a group not far behind you or just in front of you, rather join up with the group than go it alone for the final Gaps and rolling hills towards Suches where riding alone will be more fatiguing and usually slower.
Wishing you a Great Ride!
To see the Six Gap elevation file, click here.