This may be the first time I’ve ever fell for internet advertising. Somewhere I clicked a banner ad for something called the Sufferfest, apparently it was some kind of cycling training video. I’m really glad I clicked on that banner.
The sufferfest is a serious series of training videos for indoor cycling that are quite different from others I’ve seen. There is no coach offering handy advise and motivation, nor is there a room full of sweaty triatheletes spinning away endlessly. The sufferfest uses real world video from races and reconnaissance rides that are cleverly edited into interval workouts. Directions are given by on screen caption, no one will ever talk to you. The only real direction you’re given is ratio x/10 where x equals your perceived effort. A handy scale explaining this is given at the beginning of each video. Every now and again you are prompted to stand, set, increase or decrease your cadence. Currently there are five videos to choose from and cost 10.99 each.
My first purchase from the website was “Angles” which is a hour-long workout that focuses on climbing. After an explanation the video kicks off with a 6 minute warmup on a velodrome. This is awesome, the footage looks great, and I’ve always wanted to ride a velodrome, granted I’m just watching people ride a velodrome, but it’s something at least, and it illustrates just how fast these guys are flying around that track.
After the warmup you do ten minutes of over/unders, which means 1 minute over aerobic threshold, 1 minute just under. Since this ten minute set gives no actual recovery I find it hard to actually keep my under efforts hard enough. During this set you see Alberto Contador blow up during the 2009 Paris Nice, it’s amazing to see him going backwards through the peloton.
The main set of the video is 3, eight minute climbs, each featuring a series of tough attacks that you “must” to react to. The effort level on these climbs is usually 7-8/10 and they will leave you a shattered broken man if you ride them as hard as you’re supposed too. The first climb features a crushing attack by Andy Shleck, that is both awe inspiring and damn hard to keep up with. Near the end of the third climb, which is Alpe de Huez, the word GROVEL, flashes across the screen in bright red letters, truer words were never spoken. When I finished the video this morning my carpet was soaked from sweat and I had to spend several minutes recovering enough to get off the floor near my bike.
Between each set is a nice downhill section in some beautiful Alpine areas to get some recovery for the next set. These clips are provided by www.Cyclefilm.com Finally you get to cool down with some funny old timey movie footage of riders on top of buildings and crazy ramps.
Besides some exciting video footage, the sufferfest features a great soundtrack. I had never heard of the indie band, Silence is Sexy, but I’m a big fan now. In fact I woke up the other morning with one of their songs going through my head. There are several great alt r0ck tracks and lots of good techno pop tracks too, my wife hates one of them, but they’re starting to grow on me, it could just be the lack of oxygen in my brain while I’m hearing them.
The Sufferfest: Angles gets the Barn Door Seal of Approval, it’s about 100 times better than just riding the trainer. It has actually made me look forward to riding the trainer. For an added bonus I love the way the sufferfest does business. You get a DRM free .mp4 file that you are free to do anything with. Imagine that, treat the customers like people instead of criminals. I could easily see them trying to control their content and make it only streamable, attempt to sell DVDs, or go with some kind of DRM crippled format that you’d have to repurchase if something ever happened to your computer.
If you ride train indoors buy a Sufferfest video, you won’t regret it.