Thursday, 23 January 2014

It seemed like a good idea........

The recent siege mentality that I have adopted to remove the chubby little person  inside of me prompted me to make a couple of purchases (I know, that’s not like me at all........), but this time it wasn't a bank busting amount. In fact, just $13.49, that’s £8.26p in real money. Not even a trip to Burger King, well not the way I do it. And what did you buy James I hear you say? Was it something light weight and made from Carbon fiber, was it something Lycra and aerodynamic, was it some form of suppository that enhances your endurance, power and speed? No! I spent the money on a video, one that I have recently spoken about. A Sufferfest video. But this one...... this one was different. I have done these types of training video before, and they are tough, really tough, but you know you will make it through. This time, it might just be a little bit different.......

Having recently been violated by “The Rubber Glove” (Another of Sufferfest’s videos – A fitness test), I knew that I would have to up my bike consumption for 2014. The score of 164.4 FTP (Functional Threshold Power) from the test was pretty derisory, and needed improving fast. That’s what these programmes are for right? And I thought what the hell, throw myself in at the deep end. The new “Flagship” two hour Sufferfest video “ISLAGIATT” or “It Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time”.

Described by its creators as: “Featuring four major climbs over the course of two hours, it’s the story of your quest to capture the Giro d’Italia’s Most Aggressive Rider award. With an engrossing story, stunning footage, a killer indie/electronic soundtrack and more attacks than you can shake a shredded chamois at”

The layout of the Workout is broken down into four long climbs with varying “Characteristics”.

The Brake-down:
·         Warm-Up (15 Mins)
·         Climb 1 (15 Mins)
·         Descent 1 (3 Mins)
·         Climb 2 (20 Mins)
·         Descent 2 (5 Mins)
·         Climb 3 (Mt. Sufferlandia) (20 Mins)
·         Descent 3 (7 Mins)
·         Climb 4 (Mt. Apocalypse) (8 Mins)
·         Descent 4 (2.30 Mins)
·         Run In (7.30 Mins)

Now, as a rule I don’t often strip down to just my cycle shorts and shoes before a turbo trainer session because:
a)      I don’t like to subject my neighbors to the visual assault of my scrawny pasty body as I make my way from the house to my garage/torture chamber. Having said that they have seen worse (But that’s a story for another time).
b)      I get ridiculed and abused by the wife (She doesn't understand the marvel that is Lycra).

Through hearsay on the internet I sort of knew what to expect from the next two hours so I stripped down to the minimals, grabbed my laptop and headed to my bike.

Now, one of my most hated things in life is to be interrupted during a workout. Once I have managed to build up enough gumption to actually start a workout, the least helpful thing in the world is being stopped mid routine. The last person that interrupted me during a Turbo session, I had deported back to Michigan in the U.S. (This is an inside joke and will only make sense to a handful of people, if you don’t get it, tough, if you do, that’s an added bonus for you). To prevent that happening again, and to stop me trying to escape the agony of the next two hours I locked myself in.

Pre Workout drink – Check
Shoes – Check
Bottles – Check
Fan – Check
Rocktape (To hold me together) - Check
Puke Bucket – Check

It was game time..............................

From the off, the quality of the video is the best I have seen from Sufferfest, I don’t have an extensive library of their videos (6), but I have amassed enough over a period of time to see these videos go from strength to strength. Playing on my old Laptop, it looks about as good as you could hope for (then again I would so from a file size the size of a small family car – 3.3Gb). The file size is no problem if you are using a PC or Laptop to play it, but it kind of limits other handheld devices such as Iphones and Ipads storage capabilities. Yes, some people have the large 32Gb IPhones etc, but I say to that “You haven’t spent enough money on your bike”!

The video starts out with the patented Sufferfest “Knock you down to build you up”, threats of, pain, misery, anguish and fear, all in the hope you will win the glory of the “Most aggressive rider” award. It then follows on with a tactical scouting report on the other runners and riders going up for the “Most aggressive rider” award: Bluebell, The Colombian, Gloworm, Billboard and The Big M all people that over the next two hours you will learn to hate, even more than that little scratch on your crossbar that will just not polish out!!!!!!!!!

The men to beat.........
Fast-Forward an hour, I was on the second climb, sweat pouring, lactic acid now starting to build and anger towards “Billboard” in particular was evident in my mind. When a little ray of sunshine shone down on my deep dark solemn torture chamber. A little nugget of slapstick humor within the quagmire of pain and suffering. This, all brought about by a less than sure footed onlooker at the side of the road. As the Giro whisked past him up the steep incline he seems to take half a step back and then disappear down the mountain! I can only assume he is OK, as the cameraman next to him looks nonchalantly down at the now vacated spot, and then gets back on snapping the passing riders. For anyone actually with the ISLAGIATT video, keep an eye out at 55.21 mins

 Blown backwards by my sheer awesomeness????

The kind world of Twitter (@StueyEd) has also provided me with a link to the Live coverage.

But... as soon as the brief respite of a comedy interlude has died away the pain and general grottyness returned with a vengeance. Luckily just ahead was the descent, not a rest, but a lower resistance, higher Cadence section, more suited to me as a cyclist.

On the descent you are treated to what I still maintain is one of the coolest things you will see during a professional bike race. “Mobile mechanicing”. In this case a mobile seat fitting for one of the riders. This basically includes a little old man hanging out the rear window of a speeding car, secured only by the counter lever effect of  a well formed beer belly. T-bar in hand he continues cranking the riders seat loose, adjusting it and resetting the seat for a perfect fitment of the rider. All whilst the race is still ongoing at full speed (I’m guessing about 40mph)! More kudos for the driver of the support vehicle, who manages to prevent himself veering violently right running down his team member and ending the race in tragedy.
Inspired by this feat of mechanical excellence, I screamed my wife into the garage.  Once she realised I wasn't having a heart attack, I demanded she grabbed my tool-box off the side and attempt to adjust my seat whilst I continue to suffer! She refused and walked off........ thus showing no signs of a potential aspiring Giro mechanic ! Although, she did get me a second bottle of water, so she has her uses.

Fast forward another 30 minutes and I had just completed the third climb of the workout (mt. Sufferlandia). 20 minutes of standing, sitting, attacking, standing, attacking, sitting etc, etc, etc..... My legs now giving way under the pressure of ISLAGIAT, heart thumping and breathing capability severely degraded. The next descent was a welcome break from the climbing, and as I drained the remainder of my first bottle of water I hurled it across the garage in a pro “throw it at a random bystander” style (It all adds to the effect). I was ready for the final climb.

Although a shorter climb, Mt. Apocalypse is equally as taxing as the previous climb, more standing, attacking and puke inducing steep climbs. A personal highlight/low light is the standing 10/10 uphill attack against “The Colombian”. I actually thought my heart was going to jump out of my throat, rip of my legs and beat me with them.

But the results of the climb made it all worth it:

Screw you Billboard et al.
Now on the descent I thought the worst was behind me, I mean, the final 10 minutes was described as a “run in”, a chance to just revel in the glory of my new “Aggressive” title. But as we ended the descent there was a phone call from head office. It was Mr Von Agony, he wanted a stage win...... Bloody moon on a stick!

But hey...... I’m up for a challenge. So I took my half full bottle of water and also threw that one across the floor. This time in an attempt to lighten the bike for the impending/inevitable sprint finish (That makes a difference on a Turbo trainer right?).

After managing to just about hang on to the lead group for next few kilometers I was poised ready for the big finish, the Rocktape on my legs doing a fine job of holding them on to the rest of my body. The past two hours of torture had all built up to this final 30 seconds of brute power and ignorance. The hammer dropped, going aero at a cadence of 115-120 the legs were now just pistons of lava and my forehead looks like Niagra falls. The pain turrettes was kicking in, only I couldn't utter the desired obscenities for lack of breath. But I had gapped the pack! The victory was mine!!!!

Glory all round!

Sufferlandrians would rejoice for weeks to come, feasting on local delicacies of razors, nails and bricks, all washed down with a glass of industrial strength hydrochloric acid.

It had ended, the pain was over..... All was left was to amble through the cool down before falling off my bike and having a 5 minute “rest” laying, staring at the ceiling.......

And as I recapped this dark tortuous moment in my life I had  just one thought revolving through my addled little mind....... seemed like a good idea at the time

Now I have fully recovered I can look back on this as give a more “Balanced verdict” on ISLAGIATT. This is without doubt the best produced, highest quality video the Minions at Sufferfest have come up with. The variety of cycling styles, attacks and challenges keeping you on your toes the entire 2hrs. Whilst submitting me to abject misery, I can’t help but look back on it with fondness, and a sadomasochistic desire to do it all again!

If you fancy a nice easy Sunday Turbo session click here
If you want to “Taste the pain of success” go to the Sufferfest here!

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