Texas Canine Ambush   
 Ride Stats
Distance: 106.91 miles Altitude Gain: 6,472 ft Avg Speed: 18.59 mph
Route: Chocolate Tour Avg Grade: 0 % Max Grade: 0 %
Max HR: 165 bpm Avg HR: 139 bpm Terrain: Road: Rolling
Bike: Look 585 Carbon Road Club: Schuyler County Cycling Club
Weather Conditions: Clouds\Sun 76 F SW wind @ 8 mph
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 The Chocolate Tour 2019
Stayed in Harrisburg, PA last night before riding this weekend's challenge of the Chocolate Tour century in Hershey, PA. Motel was on the east side of Susquehanna River, and dining options were limited in the area. Opted for fast food and suffered for it throughout the night and blame the food for feeling poorly at the start of the ride. Temperature was cool at the start but warmed up nicely during the ride. The event is a big time production with four or five different cycling routes with a few hundred riders and also a competitive foot race and walks. Lined up at the front and immediately was outclassed before we even started by one rider that had the look of an elite cyclist and also the latest in bicycle tech. Start was delayed by the organizer when they provided a bubbly personal trainer type to lead us all in stretches off the bike. I remained ever the curmudgeon on my bike stretchless throughout the ordeal. I was not alone. When we finally got started, after a mile or so of fairly easy riding through the campus, we headed out onto the open road and the elite rider hit the front. He quickly opened a gap though not with a violent attack; he just sort of muscled away. I went to the front and kept pace with him over the first small climb and got close enough that the rest of the front group pulled back up to him on the backside of the climb. After the first hill our group was nine and included Doug and Jay, both that I had ridden with at the Tour de Perry last month. Jay has been kicking my butt on the bike since we raced back in the mid eighties. The elite rider stayed on the front and pretty much cranked out a steady speed for the remainder of the century. The rest of us just rode in a line in his draft. Pace was easy for us on the downgrades but had to do some work on the upgrades to stay with him. This continued to about the twenty-five mile mark where we hit the first of two climbs on this general flat to rolling route. We all stayed on up the lower shallow section of Mount Gretna but separated when we went up a short steep section through a small town. I stayed on over the steep section and was just barely maintaining contact as we went through a turn near the top. Unfortunately I cracked and wasn't able to stay with the group over another quarter mile of shallow climbing. Four of the nine got dropped on this section including myself. Finally crested the top and started a long downhill. I had probably lost under twenty seconds but that turned into a good distance as the group ahead hammered down the hill. I had one rider on my wheel when I started my Bonsai descent, but she got dropped somewhere on that descent and was nowhere in sight by the bottom. I hadn't gained much on the leaders during the descent but kept on hammering through the rollers. I was finally able to make contact after four or five miles of chasing. I sat in for a half mile but wasn't able to recover much as the rolling climbs continued. We turned a corner into a fairly steep climb and when the group came out of the saddle, I didn't. I had to throw in the towel as the legs were empty. The climb was peppered with riders who had started before the kick off time or were riding a shorter route, and I spun lamely up the hill with them. Rather than losing seconds on the climb the time loss was now measured in minutes. The legs recovered quickly once I got over the steep section, and I started to catch and pass riders. Two of the riders were from the original front group but their fight was gone and I easily dropped them. Caught a fairly strong rider and drafted him until nearing the first rest stop at thirty miles. I glanced in and didn't see Doug at the rest and so kept up the chase though I knew that unless the three riders ahead had a mechanical I would not be seeing them again. I chased none the less as penance for getting dropped. I found out after the ride that Jay had stopped at the first rest stop. The elite rider and Doug rode together until around sixty miles. Doug said for awhile he worked with the rider to try to maintain a twenty two mile an hour average for the ride that the elite rider had set for himself. Rumor after the ride was that he was a ranked speed skater. After sixty miles Doug was dropped and rode the remainder alone and finished with a twenty average. The elite rider finished at twenty point five. I occasionally caught and passed riders where the different shorter courses intersected with the century but all were traveling fairly slowly. Kept a strong pace on my own and was maintaining a near twenty average when I stopped to refuel at the second rest stop at fifty five miles. Candy bars and stinger GU packs were plentiful at the rest stop. There was also ice cream, but I did not partake. Got back on the course and noticed speed was dropping and checked elevation profile and noted I had been climbing for a couple of miles. Got a bit concerned as it was still five miles until the second climb of the day was supposed to start. At the next intersection I confirmed I was off course. Rolled along slowly checking the provided map and my Garmin map to determine the best course of action to either get me back on coarse or back to the start. I knew the direction I needed to go but roads in the area follow the terrain and not the direction I wanted to go and ended up riding an extra seven miles and a thousand extra feet of climbing. I was riding on a ridge and saw a few riders in a valley below and rejoined the course when a cross road allowed. Made it back on course in time to get my butt kicked on the second climb of the day by a young rider. I was despondent from getting lost and had lost my will to keep a good pace and had a very poor climb. I rallied a bit over the top and chased down the young whipper snapper in a couple of miles of rolling terrain. Worked a paceline with him and another rider we caught until the third rest stop at eighty miles. Felt better over the final twenty miles and was hopping from group to group of slower riders as we headed back to Hershey. Rode strong despite feeling the effects of dehydration. Had been drinking quite a bit but it wasn't getting into my system fast enough. The last three miles was tough as my body was telling me it had had enough riding for the day. Rolled in to the finish with an eighteen six average. Did the math and if I would have eliminated the section where I was lost and rolling along reading maps I would have finished over nineteen. Course was nice. There were many, many turns that were mostly well marked. Traffic and riders were very friendly though there were a few hazardous intersections. Had a strong ride despite not feeling well at the start and had only a couple of weak spots on the climbs.

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