The Sufferfest – Cycling Video Review

It was just a couple of days ago that I wrote about the Pain Community that Mr Atkinson refers to in terms of triathletes.  He believes that we will push ourselves past a point of suffering because we want to feel alive in today’s world.  We will endure suffering that the average person will not work their way through and it was just yesterday when I became the Mayor of this Pain Community if for only 2 hours.  It was during the second hour of my trainer ride while watching The Sufferfest – A Very Dark Place that I could feel a small tear start to trickle down my cheek as my legs and lungs burned like never before.

It wasn’t too long ago that Shannon of IronTexas Mommy, Mandy of Caratunk Girl and Rebecca of She Becca Try to Tri were talking about this video series and how much they loved it.  At the time I was in the midst of marathon training and not overly concerned with cycling since at the time riding was on the trainer and for recovery from a long run.  Once the marathon ended I knew that I need to pick up the slack on the bike and that I would be doing quite a bit of riding on the trainer in The Humidor.  I also knew that I need to really push myself on the bike if I want to go faster than what I did for 70.3 Austin and I reflected on my winter training for 70.3 California.  Last winter I rode the trainer but in retrospect I was really just spinning on the trainer.  It wasn’t until a conversation with BDD, Jeff, Patrick and Jon that I learned the concept of embrace the pain.  That later became embrace the suck after reading Macca’s Book: I’m Here To Win.  After that conversation my riding became more intense.

Learning from last year I planned on going into this winter training session with the notion that I was going to try to improve as much as I could on the bike and that is where The Sufferfest began to surface.  I asked which was the best video to get and was told that I should get Downward Spiral, and then I had an interval session and figured that A Very Dark Place would work for that session.  Shannon wrote a review of Fight Club and so I decided to get that one as well.  To date I have used Downward Spiral and A Very Dark Place but not Fight Club.  I will review the two videos that I have used and you can go [HERE] to read Shannon’s review of Fight Club.

Downward Spiral

Workout details from the website: The Downward Spiral workout was designed to work you at your maximum level, in sustainable, decreasing time periods. And to make you beg for mercy. But that’s a side effect of The Sufferfest, you know. Here’s what you’ll get over the 60 minutes.

My thoughts of the video:  Yeah this is hard.  You start out with a nice 10 minute warm-up that scares me.  It is a first person view of a mountain bike course and the rider is going over rocks, trees, jumps, etc and I feel much safer on my tri bike than doing this warm-up but the music is great and gets you going.  From there you enter into pack riding and again it is in first person and also includes some attacks which really gets the legs ready for the Downward Spiral.

The Downward Spiral is a set of intervals starting at 2 minutes and working your way down by 15 second increments and the hard work (9.5 or 10 out of 10 on the RPE scale) is followed by the same time frame of recovery.  For me the recovery is great at the start but then you always see a rider (#35 in 2XU gear) passing you and my recovery goes from 3/10 to more of a 5/10 as I can’t stand when he passes me, and you don’t have to tell me I know it’s not real but it still irks me and it must irk the guy who had the camera on his helmet because he looks right at the guy after he gets passed.

So that you know when it is time to pick up the pace or slow down into recovery the video plays a horse’s neigh.  The first couple of times you are ok with it and by the time the 1st set is nearing its end you never want to see another horse ever again.  Did you pick up that I said 1st set?  That’s right because after you do it once you get 5 minutes recovery and you get to do it again except its harder.


A Very Dark Place

Workout details from the website: A Very Dark Place was created to work you very, very hard. You need to be both physically and mentally ready (or insane) for this one. It was designed to help you improve your top speed over short distances – covering, or making attacks, getting over those steep short hills and powering down the other side or taking a big pull at the front of the breakaway. Of course, we’re here not just to make you suffer, but to entertain you – so we designed each 4:00 interval with a unique, eh, personality: from steady intensity to aggressive climbing to relentless attacks on the cobbles or on the bergs. You will not get bored – guaranteed. A Very Dark Place, which is about 54:00 covers:

My thoughts of the video:  I used AVDP after riding to Downward Spiral for an hour so my legs were already filled with lactic acid when I hit the play button.  It was not long before I was shutting my eyes to try to deflect the suffering somewhere else.  I embraced the suck as much as possible and there were a couple of times where I could feel myself whimper and then let out a huge sigh when the gunshot went off.  Yes the gunshot.  In this video that is your queue to pick it up or slow down.  So as I sit here living in Texas I am officially sick of horses and guns……probably need to move now!

The video has 5 4:00 all out sessions followed by 3 minute recovery periods and has some great music to keep you involved.  The best part, and what makes this video different from Downward Spiral, is that each of the 5 sessions is completely different from the other.  There are attacks and there are climbing out of the saddle sections as well.

In this video as with Downward Spiral the Sufferfesters tease you with comments like your Grandma called or the leader of the pack is talking about you.  Statements like can you keep up and the competitor in me gets annoyed and pedals even harder.  It got so loud in The Humidor (my garage) that I had to ask Karen last night if she could hear the trainer from the bedroom.  Luckily she did not hear it which means that my neighbors don’t hear it either.

I have a two-hour ride coming up and I can’t wait to start with AVDP and finish with Fight Club.  These videos are going to help me reach my goal of getting better on the bike through the winter and set me up for a terrific day at 70.3 San Juan as well as Ironman Texas.

Recommendation:  I would highly recommend these videos to those that have to spend anytime on the trainer either due to weather or time.  I used to dislike the trainer as much as the treadmill but these videos do make the time fly by regardless of how much you are suffering.  The music and the scenery are excellent and the price cannot be beat.  You can download the videos for $11.99 for single use or $24.99 for group or class use.  The price cannot be beat.

As their slogan says:  I will beat my ass today to kick your’s tomorrow

Have You Used Sufferfest?  If so, which video do you like best?

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  1. BDD says:

    First, I need to point out that you wrote “So as I sit here living in Texas I am officially sick of horses and guns……probably need to move now!” Just saying…. it came out of your mind….

    I want to try these, my problem is I dont have a laptop and I cant bring the bike in the den. I heard that some people have burned these onto DVD’s but I dont know how to do that. Someone day, maybe, I can do these, I have never hidden that I love being on team “trainer freaks”

    After reading this, we need to come up with a better name for pain and suck, its so, well, not motivating. I will get back to you on it
    BDD recently posted..Happy HolidaysMy Profile

  2. Sam @SKDickers says:

    I love, love, love these videos & have been a fan for a while now. I never considered doing two back to back for longer trainer rides – I’m going to steal that idea! Fight Club turned out to be my favorite, but I have to say that they are all freaking phenomenal in their own way – very engaging!

  3. Okay, definitely going to need these for the CO winter. Although your review scares me a bit.
    Shut Up and Run recently posted..Outwit, Outlast, OutplayMy Profile

  4. Beth says:

    I’m going in on these with some people in my building. We’re planning trainer parties in our club room over the winter. Tri nerds!
    Beth recently posted..Three Things ThursdayMy Profile

  5. Shannon says:

    First, you’re a stud for doing two of these in a row. Two hours of Sufferfest= at least what it takes to ride an Ironman bike leg, if you’re pushing it at what they’re telling you (and I know you are… because we do as we’re told!) Apparently, I sweat more than you, if you didn’t feel that first bead of sweat until the 2nd(!) video. Either that, or I need to put my trainer outside in the 30something degree weather to keep cool.

    Anyway, looking forward to getting those started again after the new year. They are definitely “musts” on my training plan!
    Shannon recently posted..Holiday deal… well, maybe not so much.My Profile

    • CTER says:

      Not sweat in the 2nd set but a TEAR from crying in pain……LOL!

      I do as I’m told even if I curse a bit at the horse or the gun or the GO HARDER or the ARE YOU A GAP CLOSER?…….oh those words burn me.

      And seriously #35 in the recovery drives me nuts. I want him to pull out but he’s always there…..ha!

  6. misszippy1 says:

    I’ve probably told you before, I am a big Spinervals fan (c’mon, Troy was my coach!). I have many of these from over the years. I really love the workout. But maybe I will take a look at a different series, based on your recommendation!
    misszippy1 recently posted..Three Things Thursday (the gym edition)My Profile

  7. marlene says:

    I have not been minding the trainer much, but I have admittedly been sandbagging it and just easy-riding for the most part. I think I need to get one of these going. Thanks for a great review!
    marlene recently posted..2011 Year of RunningMy Profile

  8. sign me up. What’s the worst thing that can happen? I can fail, get off my bike, hit video aux 2 and play Wii.
    Patrick Mahoney recently posted..New Years Day RideMy Profile

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