Kicking it with the fast bunch (Sally’s Ride 2018)

Last Sunday I headed north to take on the 100km Sally’s Ride. Many of the State’s strongest riders turn up to hammer this so I’d been doing a bit of secret training in preparation. I had one main goal; finish the lumpy course in under 3 hours 30 minutes elapsed time.

Photo Credit: Michael Preece, The Examiner

A lofty goal, so to break it into sections I set a couple of mini-goals along the way. I knew in order to smash my target I’d need to get into a strong group, so that was goal number one…

Mini Goal #1: Get into the front group from the start

Out of the starting gate we had a police escort giving us priority through each set of traffic lights on the way out of the city.  This kept the pace high right from the start. Unfortunately at the second intersection half the group went through with the escort, but as the back half approached, cars started rolling through! We had to stop, causing an early split which I got caught in.

I was NOT going to get dropped from the front this early so I put in a huge effort to bridge the gap. I’m talking full attack mode 500 watt burst off the front of my chasing group! I burnt a big match in the process (and probably never fully recovered from that effort) but I made it across to the leaders.

Route profile for the day’s proceedings. 

Mini Goal #2: Stick with the bunch up the main climb

Surrounded by a chorus of whirring carbon wheels and electronic groupsets I rolled down the Highway towards the climb. I had made it into the front selection, now I just had to stay there! I looked around at my bunch companions. I could tell I was in the company of many strong legs and punching well above my weight here! Some had even ridden with Richie Porte the day before!

Took the alloy whip with me, maybe should have taken the fast aero bike!

I set a goal to make it over the big climb of the day with the front bunch, then try and hold on for as long as I could! It was an above threshold effort – roughly 15 minutes of hurt (another match burnt) but again well worth it to not get dropped. Over the top the pace soon settled from “chewing the stem” to “just about holding the wheel.”

Mini Goal #3 Hold that wheel to the bridge (half way)

By now our group was down to about 25 riders, all of them looking stronger than me! Most of them seemed to know each other and had ridden the route before. I just put my head down and focused on holding my place in the pack. I consider myself a good climber, but I was being out-climbed on every rise, then out-descended too! I had to work hard in order to maintain my position.

Each burst was taking it’s toll, but I was still in the mix as we crossed the Batman Bridge and began the return leg. I sucked down a caffeine gel, gritted my teeth and held on. This was wheelsucking at it’s finest.

Mini Goal #4 Hammer to the finish line!

With 60km gone, the pace picked up again. By now each rise in the road was being attacked hard out of the saddle, the bunch starting to get frisky. I found myself slipping further and further back each time they pushed the pace. Finally, after 85km, I lost contact. On a long uphill drag I got caught 20 metres off the back, climbing at over 5w/kg with no more to give, my final match burnt, legs left smouldering.

The gap to the bunch quickly grew to about 100 metres – so I dialled in my time trialling pace and hammered on! I spent the next five kilometres closing down the gap, metre by metre getting closer to rejoining the pack. Then lady luck said no. The bunch sailed through an intersection as the traffic lights turned amber and that was it. I hit the red light and had to stop, forced to watch them disappear up the road…

A couple of other dropped riders joined me for the final stretch, sharing the load back to the city. Together we rolled through the finish line totally exhausted in 3 hours and 5 minutes, averaging a shade over 20 miles an hour!

A quality day out in the North of the State!

I didn’t make it to the finish with the lead bunch, but I did smash my target time and was stoked to have hung with them as long as I did. It was a fantastic day out on the bike and my fastest ever 100km ride. Gotta be happy with that!

Final Ride Stats

Elapsed Time ~ 3 hours 5 minutes
Distance ~ 100km (62 miles)
Climbing ~ 1000m (3200 feet)
Average Speed ~ 32.5kph (20.2 mph)

19 Comments Add yours

  1. The Gertalian says:

    Had the bunch been a tiny bit slower, would they have had to stop at the traffic light, too? Strange mode of racing. Nice post.


    1. It was green when they went through. If they were slower, then I wouldn’t have needed to chase in the first place! 😂


      1. The Gertalian says:

        Yeah, but how is that a fair race if some have to stop for traffic lights?


        1. It’s not a race. It’s just an organised ride, ridden hard.


  2. bgddyjim says:

    Nice job, brother! That’s fast on a lumpy track! Congrats.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Cheers. I was doubting myself a bit so it was great to find out I can (kind of) mix it with the big guns!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. bgddyjim says:

    Yep, I know the feeling, brother.


  4. Amazing efforts, great read. The sub 3 hour sounds within reach. Good luck with that (read other article)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! I did a bit of testing over the weekend and the “sub three” target looks achievable based on the data. Tough for sure and there’s work to be done, but definitely in reach!

      Liked by 1 person

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