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?

Jason Bahamundi

About the Author:

I grew up in New York and lived there for 34 years until I got divorced and moved 1600 miles to my new home in Texas.  I love New York and miss it but that does not mean that Texas hasn’t been great to me because it has.  It was here that I discovered endurance sports and specifically the sport of triathlon.  Triathlon has given me new life through all the challenges it presents.  I no longer look at life the same way and I can say that is in part due to my endeavor into this sport.

Related Stories