My move to an area that actually has real seasons forced me to get serious about my training alternatives. Recently when I bundled up with enough layers so I could ride outdoors, I could have been mistaken for the Michelin Man. Unfortunately, there have been times when it has reached Jens Factor HC and I have had to bring my training indoors. I have a trainer, but as every cyclist knows, doing training workouts is about as entertaining as gluing tires, but just as necessary. Luckily “The Sufferfest” has an attractive alternative to just doing mind-numbing efforts until your junk goes numb.
The Sufferfest website offers two different training videos: “Fight Cub” and “Downward Spiral”. Both are unique workouts. The Fight Club video uses longer, sustained efforts such as time trialing and hill climbing with a few attacks thrown in for good measure. The Downward Spiral offers shorter, maximum efforts. What sets both of these videos apart from others is race footage from Paris-Roubaix, Tour of Flanders, and in the case of the Fight Club video, footage from the 2009 road and time trial world championships interlaced with up-beat music.
I downloaded the “Fight Club” video easily and transferred it to my iTunes library with no problem. Now it was time to hike up my shorts and see if I could take the pain that the video promised.
After a gentle five minute warm-up the Fight Club workout goes into a sustained effort that elevates the heart rate. From there four laps of sustained efforts pushed the heart rate up a notch and deep into zone 4. These efforts are four minutes in duration followed by a two and a half minutes big gear climb. Along the way there are short, 100% effort attacks. Just so you know how hard you’re supposed to be riding a message flashes on the screen, along with an audio cue, telling you what your perceived effort should be. During the four minute efforts you should be in the seven out of 10 range and then eight out of 10 when climbing. Don’t worry, after each lap there is a three minute recovery and trust me, you’ll need it.
A cool change to the video footage happens at the conclusion of the last lap when the video follows Cadel Evan’s solo effort to the line which earned him the world champion jersey. At one point the video zooms in on Evan’s grimacing face as he is gunning it to the line. If that doesn’t motivate you to push yourself a little harder I don’t know what will.
The soundtrack is up-tempo electronic music that keeps a beat with the efforts. The only time I thought the music skipped a beat was during the second recovery period. The music selection for that recovery is a good compliment, but then it as the recovery time ends and the time trial effort begins the down-tempo music continued to play. It made me want to snuggle with Wiggins instead of trying to beat him in the time trial. Fortunately, it soon stops and an up-tempo selection replaces it bringing my rage back with it.
Overall the Sufferfest videos are the great way to compliment your training when the weather takes a turn for the worse or you don’t have enough time to kit up and ride. I’ve trained with the Fight Club video three times and I’m completely worked afterward! Of course they don’t replace those long rides outside but it helps keep over training at bay. The workouts are structured to either improve your sustained power, in the case of the Fight Club, or high-end anaerobic efforts in the Downward Spiral video. The black and white 1950’s bike safety video used at the conclusion of the training as a cool down was hilarious! The original intent of the bike safety video was to educate, but now it’s just so dated it’s funny. The “Dad” in the video did give off a creepy vibe and I expected him to launch into the dangers of reefer as well. The only small nit-pick suggestions I have is that the screeching brake cue for when to slow down could be louder. However, that might also be a case of my windtrainer howling like a tornado and I couldn’t hear the cue. I also wish that the video offered an option of inserting my own music into the video. I know that the group training Sufferfest video has that option, so if you think you’ll want to switch up your musical choices paying the extra bucks to download it could be worth it. Also, I would ask for a menu at the start of the video so if you wanted to you could skip the warm-up or some of the laps. I rode outside at a casual pace and then returned to power out some Fight Club laps. I had to hunt and peck through the video to find the hard effort laps. It would have been nice to choose the lap selection from a menu.
Web: The Sufferfest: Downloadable Cycling Workout Videos
Price: Individual license $10.99
Group License $16.99