Review of the Week: The Sufferfest

As Pavé’s readership increases (something for which we are extremely humbled and grateful), we’ve been surprised to find there are actually companies eager to send us products to review and share with you.  So in an effort to find a tasteful, unobtrusive way to honor such requests, here’s the first installment of our new, semi-regular column: “Review of the Week”.  This week’s ROW takes a look at The Sufferfest, a series of indoor training videos from Singapore’s (yes, Singapore!) Sufferfest Studios.

While training for a charity ride across Tibet and Nepal (wow), Sufferfest Studios Founder, David McQuillen struggled to find indoor workouts that were simple, effective, and perhaps most importantly, entertaining.  One day, while daydreaming about the days when he and his brother used to ride the trainer while watching videos of their Tour de France heroes, The Sufferfest was born.  It’s a simple idea really—by combining challenging workouts with actual race footage and an inspiring but not distracting soundtrack, you get about an hour of affordable, portable—and yes, painful—fun.

Each 60 to 85-minute video begins with some brief easy-to-follow instructions and a reminder that words such as “pain” and “suffer” are used only for entertainment value (a complete and utter lie), you’re off on your warm-up—a cruise through town, a local training ride, or a trip down a riverside bike path.

At this point, I recommend pausing the video and taking some time to stretch a bit.  These videos are hard—very hard if you do them properly—and a good stretch of your hamstrings, calves, quads, and back will go a long toward ensuring you’re not sore afterward.  Besides, if you don’t incorporate some stretching into your regular trainer routine, you’re already doing yourself a disservice.

Back to The Sufferfest and its carefully chosen mix of challenging workouts, inspiring music, and exciting race UCI footage.  I won’t ruin the fun for you, but let’s just say that an hour with The Sufferfest will be one of the most challenging and entertaining indoor workouts you have ever done from the comfort of your own basement or living room.

There is room for improvement though.  First of all, some of the race footage gets repeated several times over the course of the workout.  While it doesn’t detract seriously from the overall experience, there are times when you’ll wish you could see something other than the backs of the same three riders every time you launch an attack or lay down a serious effort.

These videos also don’t leave much room for those still building their training base.  If you’re just getting back onto the bike after several weeks (or in my case, months) of eating, drinking, and being merry, you’ll struggle to complete the workouts at the levels being asked of you.  Don’t get me wrong, you’ll have fun watching and listening nonetheless, but you’ll miss the benefits of the workouts as they have been designed.

But overall, for $10.99 and $16.99 for individual and group licenses respectively, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more entertaining indoor training alternative. If I were you, I’d grab some friends and download all of the titles currently available with group licenses. While I won’t go so far as to say you’ll now get excited to ride the trainer, I can say that on the days you know you have no other option, you might look forward to doing it with The Sufferfest.

About Whit

My experiences might easily fit many cycling fans' definitions of “living the dream.” Since getting hooked on the sport watching Lance Armstrong win the 1993 U.S. Pro Championship, I've raced as an amateur on Belgian cobbles, traveled Europe to help build a European pro team, and piloted that team from Malaysia to Mont Ventoux. As a former assistant director sportif with Mercury-Viatel, I've also seen the less dreamy side of the sport – the side rife with broken contracts, infighting, and positive dope tests. These days, I live with my lovely wife in Pennsylvania and share my experiences and views on the sport at Bicycling Magazine, the Embrocation Cycling Journal, and at my own site, Pavé.
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