I was a late entry into the Tour of Sufferlandria – committing to join only yesterday (after a few pushes from fellow Sufferlandrians on Twitter). I had been wanting to do this, but wasn’t sure if I’d pull it off.
Looking a little closer at the Rules page, I noticed that a voluntary donation to the Davis Phinney Foundation was requested. This is a nonprofit dedicated to helping those fighting Parkinson’s Disease. My best friend’s mother is doing just that – fighting Parkinson’s Disease. That settled it – I had to join! Happily, I made a donation and made my final commitment to ride.
For those of you not quite familiar with the Tour of Sufferlandria, it is a 9-stage “event” whereby you commit to doing 9 straight days of The Sufferfest videos (usually one a day – but you get an extra workout on two of those nine days). There really is no competition between the 2,350+ riders (at the time of this writing); rather, you get to join the community on Facebook to egg each other on and get to share in the fun of community pain and the evil humor of those at The Sufferfest.
Sure – the ToS might be somewhat of a guise to get you to buy a bunch of The Sufferfest workouts. You gotta hand it to the folks at The Sufferfest for thinking of novel ways to get you to purchase more videos. Truth be told – I probably would have ended up with all of them over time anyway – so I’m not complaining. Throw in the fun of the shared camaraderie/misery with fellow committed Sufferlandrians AND the fundraising for a great cause and you have one great event!
STAGE 1 – RUBBER GLOVE
The first Stage of the Tour is the workout/fitness test entitled Rubber Glove. This is the first time I did this workout, and I really wasn’t sure what to expect. There is mention of a fitness test, and you get a PDF chart with the download – but there really wasn’t an explanation of what that chart was for in the download. I just went back and read the description (and the accompanying FAQ) on the site – and the description there is pretty good. So – lesson here – read, Brad, read!
Had I read, I may have been better prepared as I started. Instead, I started spinning while the workout started – but I had left my chart upstairs. I had to pause a few times as I ran around getting the chart. Then my heart rate monitor (that I hadn’t used for a few years – good thing it still worked, even after I fiddled around with it for a bit).
My heart rate monitor came with my Timex watch one year for Christmas (thanks to my fantastic wife). I wasn’t sure how much I would use it, since I didn’t want to get too serious with my cycling training (sort of like when you make your hobby your career – it’s just not the same thing). However, there is a nagging feeling that I should know some key measurements if I want to improve.
There may be a way for the watch/heart rate monitor to measure average heart rate. I just didn’t want to take time to find the directions and get everything set up, so I opted to measure the heart rate each minute (which is an option they give you in the workout). With all of my pausing video and running around, I remember reading the screen that you’d measure each minute during the test. As the workout started, I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to start recording each minute or not (turns out they tell you when to start measuring).
The test itself starts after the warm-up – and I was worried that I wasn’t going to know when to measure each minute. Of course, they wouldn’t let that happen – so you get very clear onscreen instructions on when to measure! Whew! All that worrying for nothing.
The entire workout is about an hour long. Before the test actually happens, you get a nice warmup of about 21-24 minutes. As in the other videos, I used the intensity scale to know which gear ratio to use (for 2/10, I was in the Large Cog front, 25 (easiest) in the back – for 10/10, I would be in Large Cog/12). The warm-up starts at 2/10 for 3 minutes at 90 RPM. Every three minutes, the intensity goes up by 1 (meaning I shifted up 1 rear cog) until you max out at 7/10. I was peeking at my heart rate (not sure if I was supposed to at the time), and I noticed the rate went up a little bit with each intensity jump.
The next section was a series of recovery and fast, easy spinning – and, together, this section takes up about 8 minutes (one minute fast spin/one minute recovery in four segments). The fast section lets you race alongside Fabian Cancellara – which is exciting enough.
The recovery section just might be better – as you get to watch a cute blonde make an omelet while riding her bike on rollers in her kitchen. It’s just like The Sufferfest to paradoxically show someone who looks so pure and angelic while pushing you through hellacious pain. I was transfixed watching her calmly put ingredients into a pan while spinning – so much that I missed the fact that she was doing it on ROLLERS (not a stationary trainer).
The fact that she’s on rollers is emphasized when she does some one-leg pedaling. WHAT!! I tried that in one of the Spinervals videos on a stationary trainer with not much luck. I can’t imagine trying to do that on rollers!! Kudos to her for doing that! I am in awe! I just have to wonder how many male cyclists’ heart rate went up during the recovery section……..(hmmmm….something tells me my wife is going to smack me after reading this part of the review…..good thing I already called her “fantastic” earlier in this post – I just might get a reprieve).
Now that the pleasantries have been shared, the next 20 minutes of the video were dedicated to the actual fitness test. You are told to measure your starting heart rate. Then, the test starts by having you go at tempo pace (90 RPM) at different and increasing intensities. I followed the suggestions for RPM the entire time – and I found that it was easier than I thought it would be.
At the end of the session, they reminded me that I should have been going at maximum effort the entire time – so I’m hoping I didn’t do the fitness test wrong (as I can admit now that I probably didn’t go at my maximum effort – I was trying to keep the RPMs per the onscreen guide). In my mind, I just figured that – when I go to do it again – I’ll do the same thing I did today and see if my Functional Threshold Performance (based on heart rate) changes. I’ll need to do some more research to see if that number should go UP or DOWN. Quite honestly, I’m not too sure….
The music in the Sufferfest videos have been pretty good (for the first two I reviewed). This one was not quite as good as the others to me – but – still much better than the majority of trainer workouts on the market. I don’t think I’ll be seeking out the music on this video for my personal music catalog (like I did on The Wretched).
Also, this video being more of a fitness test, it didn’t have as much of the fun jawing and cajoling of the other workouts – but it serves its purpose. Manually recording the heart rate myself happened often enough that the cajoling would have just been too distracting anyway. No standing in this workout either – and that’s one of my favorite things to do to break up the monotony (and give the ol’ undercarriage a rest, ahem). But, the hour-long workout flew by anyway!
The workout uses actual footage from the Spring races in Belgium – which means you get to see a lot of cobbled streets (I don’t mean to brag, but I rode the center of the road taking up all of the cobbles while watching the rest of the wimpy cyclists riding the smooth berms – Wimps!). You also get to see muddied faces and backsides as the cyclists compete on those muddy streets.
I’m looking forward to Stage 2 tomorrow – as I once again tackle ISLAGIATT for a 2-hour session.