The winter months so far have been fairly mild but one thing I cannot bring myself to do is venture out after work on a dark and cold midweek night. This is where turbo trainers come in to their own, the ability to ride indoors and keep some fitness was something I needed to do with 2 sportives in March looming. For many turbo’s are a necessary evil, for some they are boring things that they just can’t get on with. With this in mind I picked up a second hand CycleOps Max Plus for £80 of Ebay.
My first forays on the trainer were mundane uninspiring affairs. I tried to spinning by putting some “banging tunes” on with a high BPM but found my rhythm changed with each song. I wasn’t able to settle in to any pace work, and also when I tried to hit any interval work again the pace of the music seemed to effect me. I also found this a little boring so tried a different approach. My next session I watched an episode of the excellent Game of Thrones whilst turning the pedals, this maintained my interest but to be honest it hardly raised the heart rate as I was concentrating on the show rather than the training.
I had heard a few encouraging comments about The Sufferfest Video’s. They have an excellent marketing campaign focussing on the fact that each training session should work you very hard, if it ain’t hurting it ain’t working I think some 80′s fitness guru used to say. Sufferfest use the acronym, IWBMATTKYT, I will beat my ass today to kick yours tomorrow. This approach appeals to pretty much every cyclist who has the masochistic streak to get on a bike and haul themselves up a high gradient climb. The videos mix official footage of UCI events and music which fit the tempo of the work you are being asked to do. With this in mind I took the plunge and bought a climbing video rather misleadingly titled Angels.
Initially you get a warm up, part of team pursuit training team round a velodrome. Then you do unders and overs, 1 minute of each for 10 minutes, you do this “alongside” Alberto Contador during the Paris-Nice in 2009 where he cracks. Its during this section that you understand Sufferfest’s appeal and dark humour. The music is good, riding to the video’s of the pro’s really helps. I am not going to over exaggerate and claim its like being there but riding in the peleton watching the scenery go by does help with the focus. In addition the onscreen comments make you smile and keep your focus. The unders and overs are then followed by 3 tough climbs, for these I select a very high gear and increase my resistance and try and chug my way along with the video’s. Here things get really interesting and Sufferfest comes into its own, with attacks and all sorts of changes of pace kicking in to send the heart rate up and cause your thighs to scream in protest. Alberto Contador turns up in two of the climbs, and he pushes you to the limits – irrespective on you views of him as a rider or the long running clenbuterol saga, you will hate him once the 64 minutes are over.
What makes the video’s so good for all is that the effort level is rated from 1 to 10, however this is totally subjective so essentially you work as hard as your fitness will allow. Some more technically minded race types might find this a little unscientific but for us mere mortals I think this approach works perfectly. To be honest those with heart rate monitors, cadence meters and the like will surely be able to calculate at their effort levels against Sufferfest’s levels of “pain”. Angels is an excellent video, and to be honest the whole Sufferfest set up definitely takes the boredom away from winter turbo training.
9/10 – Buy one, otherwise those other sportive riders will be kicking you ass.