Over the past year, I spent countless hours reviewing my favorite series of Virtual Rides from the folks at Spinervals. With no new Virtual Ride videos planned in the near future (per @CoachTroy on Twitter), I started out this colder weather season with a review of one of my virtual rides from the folks at Global Ride. And while that ride was ok, it just didn’t rank up to those I’ve done before.
So, yeah, I was already bored (which isn’t good news since it was one of the first indoor rides of the season). I started thinking about finding something new to review. As a cyclist who looks for new video workouts to do in the cold months, I’ve certainly seen the ads for the videos from The Sufferfest – so I decided it just might be time to give them a try.
I decided to throw out the idea of trying a video from The Sufferfest on Twitter. It’s rare I get a response from anything I tweet (hoping that’s pretty normal for the average guy) – but – this request netted responses from both @TheSufferfest and a lot of their followers. A lot of suggestions came through – and I had an uneasy feeling that the fans were just a little bit evil.
After weighing all of the suggestions, I finally settled on The Wretched – since @TheSufferfest made the suggestion saying that it’s just “general misery.” I went to their website and downloaded the video. Now, I’m a bit embarrassed to say that this was my very first digital movie download (all previous workouts were on real DVD’s) – and I had to figure out how to get it on to my iPhone or iPad. Then, I had to figure out how to get it to play in my home theater (aka Pain Cave).
To make a long story short, I ended up buying a new A/V receiver (my old one was 12+ years old) and Apple TV. In retrospect, I suppose I could have just burned a DVD off my computer and not purchased the other items – but there’s a whole host of logistical problems that I was able to overcome with these purchases (and it was an excuse to go tech shopping).
I wasn’t sure what to expect with the workout. Big talk coming from these guys in all of their promotional activities. Was it all hype (like that elementary school bully who is big and tough until it’s time for action)? Did the other cycling fans of the Sufferfest (known as Sufferlandrians) just go along with the hype to dupe new riders into buying, too – or – did they just want to share the pain?
It turns out – this 45 minute session was pretty dang intense! More importantly, it was a blast!!
Essentially, they used licensed footage from the Tour de France to simulate riding in a stage. Imagine riding next to the likes of Thomas Voeckler, Cadel Evans, Alberto Contador and other big name riders. You’re going pedal-to-pedal to these guys – sometimes winning….sometimes losing. And the folks at The Sufferfest make it more fun by either chastising you OR these professional riders. They don’t pull any punches, either. At one point, they diss Alberto Contador for going too slow (right before you get to drop him). Of course, they’re soon telling you to, essentially, quit your crying and go-go-go!!
I take it from the introduction of this video that the format is a little bit different from others they offer. The actual changes in the workout aren’t introduced to you until they happen – simulating a race. You’ll be riding along when the other riders start to sprint – and your onscreen coach (words typed on the screen) let you know that you had better start moving or you’ll get dropped like a _______________ (insert your own insulting term here). And I liked it! You don’t really know what’s coming up next!
The music is also top notch! I really mean it! Most cycling videos I’ve done in the past allow you to turn the music off – and there’s a reason for that. The music is typically canned instrumental music that’s more likely to make you slip into a leisure suit than it is to make you want to ride. The music in The Wretched is best described as hard core rock and alternative punk pop styles. It truly is a lot of fun, and I intend to add some of it to the music on my iPhone. The last time I found so much music that I liked enough to add to my iPhone, I was playing Lego Rock Band on the Wii with the kids.
The speed was fast, too. In the 45 minutes, I completed 20 miles of riding! Those numbers are skewed high a little bit, because I did have two interruptions in digital playback in the middle of the video where I kept spinning at a high cadence (but lower gear) until it started back up again. I don’t think this was a glitch with the video at all – just a glitch with the video playback (hmmmm…..maybe burning that DVD would have been a better choice after all….).
It did take me a little bit of time to figure out what gear ratio to use. As the workout started, I saw some numbers in the top right hand corner of the screen that didn’t mean anything to me. Fortunately, they explained the meaning of the numbers – but didn’t give you any suggested gear ratios. As a result, I’m not sure if the cadence or the gear was more important. For simplicity purposes, I stayed in the big front gear the whole time. Then, I used the top small gears to mimic the “X”/10 scale. For instance 10/10 would be big gear front and 12 (hardest) gear on the back. For every step down, I simply stepped down one gear easier (9/10 was big gear front/13 on back, etc.).
I finished the stage – but won’t tell you whether they let you win or not. That’d spoil all the fun – and, besides, do you think they’d really let you suffer all that way only to lose……..(insert evil grin here). The hype proved to be pretty true. While I didn’t puke in a bucket (which could have been possible given the fact that I had leftover buffalo chicken pizza for lunch), I did have a great high-intensity ride that did, in fact, include suffering.
Enough suffering that led me to post a sweaty up close photo of me to @TheSufferfest telling them that my passport photo was attached – and asking for a visa to stay in Sufferlandria (My visa was approved – thank you very much!).
Yes! I’m afraid to say it, but it looks like I might have just ended up being one of those Sufferfest fans who will take the chance to goad some new, unsuspecting cyclists into finding their way to Sufferlandria, too! I’m hoping their other workouts will be as fun and punishing, too! It’s going to be hard to pull out some of those other cycling DVDs I have to review now…
If you have a suggestion for another workout by these folks, let me know!