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  1. #1
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    Fools Gold 50 and Six Gap Century: A tandem team's view

    Since I don't have a blog, or a twitter, or a Facebook, I figured that I would post something here about our experience at Fools Gold 50 and Six Gap. Yes, I know that Six Gap is a roadie ride, but I don't care.

    We did Fools Gold 50 this year and the day started off beautiful. The temperature was right, the weather forecast only had 20% chance of rain, everything seemed right. The first part of the ride is great, its rolling hills on the road and some steep climbs and descents on the forest roads. Next is the single track, meaning Bull and Jake mountain. We have ridden these trails a bunch, so the first part of that was great as well. Tons of folks flatted, I think we witnessed 30 flats, everyone that I talked to had at least one flat. We did not flat, but we were running heavy tires, which I think are a good trade off. Bull proved to be very exhausting, but we were still making great time. (and we climbed what many walked) Then it rained before we could get to Jake mountain. It started to come down in buckets. I could not see the trail as it turned into a stream with about 2 inches of water on it. We kept going, even though I couldn't see (as Alex says, "I do some of my best riding when I can't see!"). I remarked to Monica that it was good that I could not give up in the last quarter of this ride, because DNFing seemed like a great option. We finished the ride and I think we were somewhere in the middle of pack to finish. We felt very satisfied with completing this very challenging and trying event. The north Georgia Mountains are ever bit as unforgiving as Western NC. The coldness from the rain, inability to see the trail, the difficulty of the terrain gives you an amount of despair that I can not communicate in words. That being said, the Fandango 29er totally kicked ass! Monica and I loved passing singles on the super steep climbs, one woman fell over climbing a very steep section of trail - right in front of us. I politely said, "pardon me, but you are in our line and we are going to make this climb". It was a great race.

    On to Six Gap. This was a day in North Georgia where the weather started off great and stayed great. We did this ride with our friends from Tallahassee, Greg and Ang. They rocked and we both completed the 100+ miles, 10,000 feet of climbing together. It took us over 8 hours of ride time, which makes this our longest ride, ever. The ride also starts out really great. You climb Neels gap first, which is the perfect grade for a mountain climb. The descents on the next two gaps are really great. I started to feel like Six Gap was doable at about gap number 3, just before the really hard gap, hogpen. Hogpen was brutal it took us over an hour to climb 7 miles, and that includes a bit of downhill that you do as you climb the "stairs" of hogpen, 3 very steep hills (around 15% grade). It was great, we made it to the top and didn't stop, could not have been better. Until we started going down hogpen, the back disc brake started to make a bunch of noise and I know what that means after burning out a pad on the mountain tandem. We pulled over and smoke was coming off the brake. The avid bb7 plastic adjustment pieces were melting. We pressed on and rode the rest of the ride with just the front brake, 3 gaps. It took a lot of the fun out of the downhill, but we made it safely. It was also a great ride. Next time, we will get new pads before we ride and I have already started to keep a spare set on the bike. Also, spinning 40 rpm up hogpen in our lowest gear 30x28 pretty much was a drag. We will not make that mistake again.

    I hope that more teams will consider doing these races. You should know Brent and Mac totally hammered the Fools Gold 100 race. Dahlonega is an awesome place to ride, eat and drink. The crit race the day before six gap was a lot of fun to watch.

    Six Gap pics: https://picasaweb.google.com/1118963...PP7rZmAxqaWmgE

  2. #2
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    great write ups We had the same issue with our Avid brakes on Mt Ventoux this summer even with new pads. See this tread on the issue over on bikeforums tandem road forum.
    Tandems on Mt Ventoux

  3. #3
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    akexpress, our friend Greg that we rode with actually told us about reading your experience on the car ride to Six Gap. Looking at the elevation profile of your route, it looks like Ventoux is the ultimate test for a braking system. I think we will stick with the BB7's for a couple more rides in the mountains, but eventually go drum brake. Phil Wood makes some nice hubs that are threaded for drum or disc adapter, seems like the way to go.

  4. #4
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    Way to go Monica and Chris! Nice pics and write up. Made us feel we were there with you and at the same time was glad we were not. FWIW I understand the drum brake is quickly becoming something harder and harder to get a hold of. Check it out but it may be worth grabbing one now if oppertunity presents itself.
    Ed and Pat Gifford
    the Snot Rocket tandem

  5. #5
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    Thanks for the report and pics, we enjoyed them! That is is our kind of roadie tandem ride. It is on the calendar for hopefully next year.
    Trey&Haydeť

  6. #6
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    I looked at the profile for the Six Gap Century and that is certainly a test for brakes and aerobic fitness. We just completed Cycle Oregon and used the new Bengal brake and it worked very well and no plastic parts to melt. It was a direct bolt on replacement for the Avid BB7 and seems to brake nicely. I think 95% of the time the Avids work well it is just the super steep long descents that they are not up to the task on tandems.

    Mark and Karen
    2008 Calfee tetra w/couplers
    2005 Ventana ECDM
    2 Cannondale road 2 tandems
    too many singles

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