With the nights closing in and the weather taking a definite turn for the worse, for many of us, there’s no option left but to take to the turbo – a worse instrument of torture it would be hard to invent. I was lucky enough to get my hands on an advance release of the Sufferfest’s latest video: A Very Dark Place. If you’ve never heard of them before, the videos feature licensed race footage and structured workouts to help you through the dark winter months.
Having experienced (and enjoyed, in a sadistic way) Angels their previous release, I knew I was going to be in for some serious pain. Unique to the Sufferfest videos is that they appeal to the wanabe pro within all of us; it is this that makes all that pain so worthwhile.
The workout is focused on a series of 5, flat-out 4 min intervals. Short enough to go full gas, but long enough to really hurt – perfect.
A full review of the video will be available on the main site in due course, but in the meantime I thought I’d give my thoughts having done workout for the first time.
An easy warmup to cool 1st person footage of some bunch riding leads into a couple of max effort jumps off the start line of a crit. No worries though as the short 30s jumps are over before you know it.
The first interval then hits you like a kick in the teeth. The setting is a proper hard man’s stage of this year’s Paris-Nice. Remi di Gregorio is suffering his way off the front, his backed hunched with the effort. Compared to his effort, you feel totally insignificant – must...try...harder!
Yes! The 4 mins are over; time for a rest. The roads do look nice in Spain and it sure is sunny and warm there. Time to regain your breath, have a quick drink and wipe the sweat off the top tube. Oh, no...only 30s left.
Next up, you’re in a small breakaway as you confront...wait for it...the (in)famous Muur de Huy. Needless to say, you won’t remember much about these 4 mins.
I would have laughed aloud but I could barely muster a small whimper
The rest interval footage continues with some quality footage of some quality descents courtesy of Cyclefilm. You find that you spend most of this time staring at your top tube though, pondering how you can slow down time.
Just when you start getting used to the effort, on comes the lunacy that is Paris-Roubaix for interval 4! God damn you Spartacus! All of a sudden you’re right there, closing down the gaps, struggling to hold his wheel as he pounds away over the cobbles. Very soon you’re groveling so low that looking up at the screen gives you neck ache.
The final interval sees Christoph Kern pulling some truly gruesome faces as he suffers his way up a mountain in the Dauphine. This time you watch as Wiggins claws his way back to the group to stay in contention before J-Rod puts in one of his trade mark attacks. The King of Gurning, Chris Anker Sorensen also makes a brief cameo appearance just to make you feel that little bit more pathetic.
Before you know it, it’s finished and all that’s left is the whining of the turbo and the pounding of that rain outside. Suddenly, all that pain and effort seems worthwhile and looking back, you could almost say that it was fun...almost.
For 5 years, racing was my life and I went all the way from a newbie bonking after 40 miles, to a full-timer plying my trade on the Belgian kermesse scene. Unfortunately, the pro dream wasn't meant to be and these days, you're more likely to find me bimbling about country lanes and sleeping in a bush on the side of the road.