we had been watching the weather via cell phone the entire trip so we weren't surprised when it started raining just north of atlanta. at some point on the trip i had received an email from the six gap organizers notifying everyone that the saturday bike event/registration/packet pick-up/etc.. had been moved indoors. we caravaned with almost the entire team weber sports team and showed up (after a minor detour, just beacause a rock is painted pink does not mean it is no longer a big rock) en mass to the middle school gymnasium where all of the events were taking place.
afterwards we drove another forty minutes back down the road to cumming, georgia to check into our hotel and then, again as a caravan, piled into the local applebee's in the pouring rain for some dinner. i made the mistake of ordering a newcastle brown ale, thus motivating me after dinner to stop at a convenient store for a six pack as post-ride libations for the following day. once back at the hotel room we realized that no one had a bottle opener, nor did the gas station sharing the parking lot with our hotel. we ended up borrowing one from the front desk to assist in the reduction of sunday's beverages. after john and i both had one beer we all nodded off to sleep as football and rain poured respectively from the television and the sky.
sunday became a reality all too quickly and unfortunately the coffee from waffle house didn't show equal motivation in arriving with the same quickness. everyone was kitted up and then piled back into the caravan for the forty minute trek back to dahlonega for the start. bikes were re-assembled. bottles filled. jersey pockets filled. creative excuses already being passed around as we all rolled to the start with two-thousand plus other participants.
the rain had cleared, but the roads were far from dry as everyone got rolling. the ride started with team weber pealing off toward the front with the rest of the race-oriented folks, and with the rest of the folks i am assuming intending to be race-oriented. i didn't bring my camera on this year's ride due to the inclimate weather and due to the fact i didn't really feel like dealing with it. on several occasions i wished i had brought it, but i guess what's done is done.
people were flatting left and right. on a couple occasions there were groups of people lying on the wet pavement in piles (what's up with that, slackers?). i was making way better time than last year, but decided (i had a good idea this was going to happen.. creative excuses) at the last minute that i was only going to do the three gap in lieu of the six gap. once i made the left hand turn, no looking back, i passed two or three riders on the third gap and after that i saw no one until i rolled into the finish... aside from some douche in a yellow mustang that veered into my lane in an attempt to mock hit me with his douche-mobile. i managed to squeeze out just over 60miles and climb a hair under 6,400 vertical feet in just at 3.5hours, which isn't that impressive - but to my defense the descents were soaked and i am not one to go balls out surrounded by thousands of crazy individuals flailing about the side of a mountain at speeds in excess of forty mph. i rode my brakes and i'll live to fight another day, hopefully.
once my transponder was returned and i explained how i intended to ride the six but changed my mind i headed back to the car and stashed some equipemtn and made phone calls before rolling back down to the finish for some lunch. at this juncture in time was when i was taken aside by one of the volunteers and ushered into a side hall of the high school the ride is based out of. i was then forced to sign paperwork and photographed at length by some organization called rodale publishing, or something to that effect. during the whole process, which was strange enough, i was spritzed down with a water spray bottle, adding to the strangeness. i was told that this situation would be happening to various degrees to a number of the people to return first from the ride.
after the recreation of a high school lunch from my distant pass came the wait for team weber....
eventually everyone showed up. don davis showed up with a time right at 5hours 30minutes for the 104.5mile route, followed by johnny about eleven minutes later, then by cody about 15minutes after johnny. the rest either crashed or were brought down via illness. at which time i was showed how to open beers with a seat-belt and weekly rides were discussed as the team all ate lunch before loading back into the caravan and heading back in the direction of the hot and humid florida.
i arrived home last night and caught up on everything i had missed while away and then promptly hit the sack. after sleeping in almost three hours this morning i awoke about 6:20 a.m. and had some coffee and breakfast (thank you, shea) before going out for a windy, sunny, hot 37mile non-recovery recovery ride.