As you will have seen in a previous blog post, we here at Team Has Bean are fans of The Sufferfest – big fans. So when a new training video was let loose from Sufferfest Towers, we were excited. And scared.
The evil genius behind these great training aids had been trailing his new instrument of torment for several weeks on Twitter. Initially known as ‘The Blender’, with each new tweet it became apparent that his evil mind was inventing more and more hideous twists and turns. Before you know it, an 85 minute video was in the pipeline, and The Blender morphed into Local Hero.
Preparing for the Tour of Flanders sportive always means one thing: winter miles on the bike. Unlike summer events, with 150 miles to ride in April, you cannot shirk the training during the bleak days of December and January. This year, with winter snow and ice in the UK, that has meant a lot of time on the dreaded turbo trainer. Before discovering The Sufferfest, this spelt dull hours in the cellar, trying to stay focussed and watching Tour DVDs for the umpteenth time.
One thing you cannot accuse The Sufferfest of is being dull. All the videos have a storyline or theme, thumping music to keep you pumped up and great in-race footage to help you at least feel a bit like you are racing with the pros.
So, with trepidation, Local Hero was downloaded (easily done through the website, but you need a good internet connection), burned to a DVD and fired up in front of the turbo bike. Luckily, given what happened next, I had the presence of mind to get a double espresso of Has Bean Brazil Fazenda Sol Nascente in before starting.
Local Hero is all about the first rider to make it to the World Champs from Sufferlandria. Look it up on a map. After 5 minutes warm up, it’s straight into a short section of crit racing, with a few jumps and accelerations. Then the hard work begins, 3 sets of 6 minute pyramids building up to 2 minutes at 8/10 effort, and back down. The use of effort levels is essential to ride the Sufferfest videos (from 1 to 10), with 1 being just sitting on the bike, and 10 being flat out. Given that the instructions calls for intervals at 0.5 increments, hitting the right effort levels is easiest if you have a means of power measurement (which my turbo has). I’ve found it best to pick a 10/10 level you can hold for 1 minute (but only just), then calculate each increment of effort up to that point. I’ve got it written on a piece of paper of the wall for quick reference – you can’t work it out when you’re deep in the pain cave.
After the pyramids, it’s off to to the Worlds Road Race in Geelong. Suffering for the pride of all Sufferlandrians. 5 sets of 3 minute efforts, with a nice mix of high power high cadence work, and lower cadence high power work to simulate climbs. Clever use of the race footage keeps you focussed as you try to keep the pace, and believe it or not you can even find breath to laugh at some of the jokes thrown in. To finish off the race, there is of course the sprint to the line. Flat out, wheel to wheel with Hushovd, 10/10. There’s a sting in the tail, but I won’t ruin the excitement of the surprise – ride it yourself.
Once the pain if over, and you’re no longer in a whole host of hurt, there is a warm down to the craziest bike/ball game I’ve ever seen – odd, but amazingly skilful.
Despite several times when I thought I’d have to stop and back off (or get off), I stuck with it and rode it more or less exactly to the requirements. 1 hour 25 mins at at average of 220 watts. That is the thing about the Sufferfest videos, they make you push yourself so much harder than you would otherwise on the turbo. And that has to be a good thing for Team Has Bean, as we prepare ourselves for the Ronde van Vlaanderen this year. The motto of the Sufferfest will hopefully pay off as we drag our tired, cobble-shattered legs over the Kapelmuur - IWBMATTKYT