Firstly, I did not pay for this video. For that I can thank Bored@work and Roxii from transitions.org.au as well as the good folks at thesufferfest.com.
Secondly, I’m already a bit of convert to this series of videos and own several already. I also use them exclusively in conjunction with TrainerRoad; therefore my experience is going to be influenced by the associated work out set up in that application.
Most people involved in cycling will be aware of the massive benefits that can be gained by training indoors, particularly with well-structured and targeted work outs. Unfortunately, sitting on the trainer for any length of time is incredibly boring. Almost as boring as swimming laps at the local pool. Thankfully, The Sufferfest are here to help with a series of videos that combine some humorous storytelling and a soundtrack designed to help keep you focused on the training sessions.
The TrainerRoad application has work outs written specifically to be used in conjunction with The Sufferfest videos. This helps ensure that the requisite amount of suffering is being endured. This is done by using FTP as a yardstick to dictate what your power output should be based on what is happening in the video.
Like the greedy kid going for the biggest slice of cake, I chose the longest video in The Sufferfest catalogue for this review. The appropriately named ISLAGIATT (It Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time) is almost 2 hours long and is almost double the length of my typical trainer workouts. The file is over 3 GB, which is big, but also to be expected of a HD video of this length. I didn’t have any issues downloading it, although I did not sit by to see how long it took. With the video safely stowed on the laptop, it was time to fire up TrainerRoad, plug in the ANT+ stick and crank up the aircon in the pain cave.
The Pain Cave
The premise of ISLAGIATT is that you are competing in the Giro d’Italia with the intent of winning the most aggressive rider award. The story is quite amusing with a number of other characters competing with you for the award. These characters are appropriately vilified throughout the video.
The footage itself comes from 2013 Giro. The editing is pretty slick and works very well with the soundtrack. The cues to change the level of intensity demanded are tied in well with different scenes. I did enjoy the soundtrack, despite much of it not being the type of music I would normally listen to. I found it odd that during the earlier efforts in the video; the music would still be fairly low tempo. I am guessing that this is because I was suffering too much, too soon. By the time I really needed some strong musical accompaniment the tempo was well up. Overall, it combines to produce a very professional looking package. The production values are definitely an improvement on the other videos in the series that I own.
The workout itself consists of a warm up spin with a number of short efforts of increasing intensity. There are then 4 climbs where are expected to be ridden either just below or at FTP. To keep up the heart rate up, these climbs include numerous attacks and surges which left me desperate for the next recovery phase. After the four climbs, there is one more final attack which ensured that my legs had completely turned to jelly. In between the climbs are the descents, these are not complete rest periods and still require some effort while recovering.
In addition to the on screen prompts, the video uses various audio cues to advise when it is time to back off pick up the work rate. I find these useful as I have a tendency to drop my head & shut my eyes while suffering through some of the attacks.
The cues are both seen & heard
I am not sure where the creators of the video reside….. I just assumed it was the USA. For this reason I was completely surprised, in a pleasant way, to be accompanied by the ocker tones of Barry Crocker reciting Mulga Bill during the cooldown spin. A bit of a treat really.
The outcome...... need to try harder next time!
Overall, this is a great workout. It hurt like it should and litres of sweat soaked the floor of my pain cave. Obviously, I could do this session without the video but I don’t think I would have the discipline to manage it. Next time I do it, I will make a better effort to hit the power numbers more closely.
I would still rather do my riding outside in the hills. However that is not always possible and this video succeeds in making indoor cycle training more enjoyable…… or at least less tedius. Given its length, it is quite a different beast to the other Sufferfest videos I have used but its quality is the best I have seen so far. I will certainly have this on regular rotation as I train for Ironman Australia this year.
As an arbritrary score, I give it 9 suffering minions out of ten.
Text and images: Ozzybuds
Thanks for a great review, Ed!