Prologue to 6 Gaps

It is worth mentioning that three weeks prior to 6 Gaps, which I hope to write about soon, we took on the 3 Notch Loop up north on our singlespeeds. 3 Notch consists of the front side of the Kanc, Bear Notch, Crawford Notch, and the back side of Kinsman Notch. As some have discussed, slighting the Kanc as ‘not a notch’ really isn’t fair; this really is the 4 Notch Loop. Whatever.

We get to the top of the Kanc, and things are fine. I eat a little bit, and we descend the back side. Somewhere about halfway down, something strange is happening. The bike. It’s starting to shake. The entire bike is slowly developing a rhythmic wobble. This is scary because at this point I’m going 40+ mph. It is getting worse and worse by the second it seems, and I start applying brakes. I scrub off something, but I’m still flying. Then I sh*t my pants basically because braking is doing absolutely nothing to stop the wobbling, and in fact it seems like it is getting worse. I can’t figure it out. I don’t know what the hell is going on. It could be a crosswind. Maybe it’s the front wheel. I have no idea. I’m probably down to 30-something mph but I am now making plans to crash the bike. It seems inevitable and I am coming to terms with how bad this is going to hurt. Hopefully I won’t feel a thing until it’s over. This is all happening very fast and I am reduced to a passenger on a crashing plane. I have no control whatsoever.

Then I remember, for some reason in an instant, one piece of sage advice that Grampie gave me a few years ago. I tuck my knees in and brace them against the top tube, and the wild ride smooths out to near-normal. I grab the brakes again and thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you. The bike has stopped shaking but I’m just starting. Try getting that out of your head, knowing you have about 70+ miles ahead of you that day.

It was so close. The Langster is not the bike for this kind of riding. I knew it was sketchy from a similar incident a year ago on Kinsman and things haven’t changed.

So were that not enough, of course I bonked. I got over Crawford and I hadn’t had any sugar for hours. I rolled along through Twin Mountain, hating life, tuned out and despondent, and as we get within half a mile of the turn into Franconia, I have to take leak. I get off the bike and my cleat rips right off my shoe.

This sucks. This sucks because there are still 30 miles to go and no matter how you cut it, there is no easy way home from here. I ride the rest of the loop, miles 60-90, including the climb up the backside of Kinsman, on one gear basically on one leg. Sometimes I could get a few pedal strokes with some power behind it on my left, but it was like tightrope walking. I’d inevitably slip off the pedal like it was made of ice, which you can see from the bottom of my shoe happened ALOT. We finished up in Lincoln, and I was so wiped out I could barely eat.

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