I could easily write an article on how disappointed we were on the outcome of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. We could include accounts of the negative responses in the Lesotho press and social media reactions to the DNF. It has been difficult to pick ourselves up, but the Sufferlandrian community is full of examples of people who have gone through much worse situations and come through triumphantly.
For both Phetetso and I, our most lasting memories of Rio will always be the support and encouragement that we received from our #DreamMakers all over the world. We really got a sense that we were not just representing the tiny Kingdom of Lesotho, but a much larger community.
Phetetso & Suffer Prize winner Jolanda Neff of Switzerland
That support manifested itself so evidently through the fundraising project towards Phetetso’s dream bike – but it was so much more than that as we continued to receive inspirational messages from well-wishers both before, during and after the Games. The fundraising project raised almost double the amount we were hoping for, totalling $7,683.
In addition to the funds raised, we received great support from the cycling industry with a sponsored frame from Giant Bicycles South Africa, wheels from Token, suspension from SR Suntour and other sponsored items from Pactimo, Limar Helmets, DMT Shoes, Maxxis Tyres, C-Bear Ceramic Bearings, E-Thirteen, Absolute Black, Ritchey and Stages Cycling. If you haven’t already done so, take a look at what Singletrack mag had to say about the bike.
It was very emotional for me to see Phetetso riding that bike around the Deodoro Olympic MTB Park. In his very capable hands, the bike coped with all the obstacles and technical sections with ease. One of our objectives as a team is to provide our riders with equipment that they can race with – equipment that they could not normally afford, but there is always a trade-off between price and functionality. For the first time, I was in a position to give one of my riders top-of-the-range parts and components. It was a very proud moment!
The whole experience of qualifying and being part of the Olympics has taught us so much. It was one the goals we set when we first formed the team less than three years ago. Now we are even more motivated to set even higher goals.
One goal is Durban 2022 -The Commonwealth Games hosted on African soil for the first time. Our long-term goal is to win a medal at these Games. We have almost six years to achieve it! We have also set ourselves the goal of not just one, but two qualified riders for Tokyo 2020.
We know we must step up our game another couple of notches. We have already acquired some Stages Cycling power meters to improve our training and performance testing techniques. We need to increase the financial support to our current pool of riders and be more aggressive in recruiting future talent. We need to look ‘outside the box’ to see if there are emerging riders from other developing African countries that could also benefit from our support.
We have already started. With the funds remaining from Phetetso’s bike, we have acquired another carbon bike to be used by one of our younger team members, Tumelo. We have also put aside some funding as monthly subsistence allowances for the whole team to be able to get proper nutrition and support their families. We have guaranteed that each rider will get a minimum of $70 each month right up to December this year. It may not sound like much but we have found this to be a very profitable use of funding. The allowance frees up time to follow effective training programmes, which radically improves performance.
Next up for the team is the awesome Lesotho Sky 6 Day MTB stage race. This year is going to be doubly exciting as we have the prospect of watching Sir Stephen Gallagher (Dig Deep Coaching and designer of “Rubber Glove”) suffering. We look forward to the prospect of Phetetso with a realistic chance of winning this UCI Class 1 race for the first time. He has teamed up with South African, Stuart Marais, in a partnership which we believe will bring out the best in both riders. Look out for our young team of Tumelo and Malefetsane and our first women’s team of Likeleli teamed up with young Botswana rider, Bakang.
We are also about to embark on a talent identification programme together with the Lesotho National Olympic Committee and hopefully this will help us to discover new talent. Our programme is about helping young African riders rise above the poverty, enabling them reach their dreams and a hope of a better future. If we can find and develop more world-class riders, it also raises the profile so that many more can benefit.
We would like to thank everyone at The Sufferfest for your support. You are a very important part of our team as well. There is an old adage that speaks about the links in a chain … but let’s not go there!
The Sufferfest is the principal sponsor of the ACE-The Sufferfest MTB Team, based in Lesotho. Team Manager Mark West will be updating us with an inside look at this underdog team and Phetetso Monese's quest for glory. Words and photos by Mark West.
Sufferlandrians - if you haven't yet subscribed to our app, you're going to want to soon. Aside from dramatically changing your visits to Sufferlandria by allowing you to train to power (or 'virtual power'), cadence and heart rate targets based on your current fitness, here are a few reasons why you'll want to sign up:
And starting in November, we'll be:
All of this on top of a beautiful, easy-to-use design, sharing to Strava, TrainingPeaks, etc. and a full record of all your workouts. It's absolutely the most easy, hassle-free to use The Sufferfest videos to train effectively (no more trying to synch workouts and videos!). I'm really, really excited about what we're working to provide to you guys and hope you give it a try (it is free for seven days).
You can get the app here: https://thesufferfest.com/pages/app
Now, before you go any further, here's a quick FAQ:
Here's how the app works on a Mac (with very similar functionality on iOS devices and the Windows version):
So, why are we going 'app only' with our new videos? There are a few reasons, but three in particular stand out.
Firstly, we strongly believe that this app is the best way to deliver enterPAINing and uniquely Sufferlandrian experiences. Quicker video downloads, seamless integration of video and data, an excellent platform for creating and delivering more content - the app is elegant, it's dynamic and it allows us to help you SUFFER better. You know we're all about that!
Secondly, we are the only player in the market that doesn't have a subscription model. For the long-term viability of The Sufferfest, we need to move to that model in order to survive. Although some of you who have Suffered at the hands of a particularly brutal Revolver session would surely like to see the 'fest six feet under, I imagine most of you would like to see us survive.
Finally - piracy. This has become an ever greater problem and we estimate that 25% of our business is being lost to pirated/shared videos. We're constantly chasing torrent sites that are giving our videos away for free, forums where people (clearly not real Sufferlandrians!) are sharing the vids, etc. We can't keep going on that way. I know that going app only isn't going to please everyone, but we're working incredibly hard to create enough value in our app that even if you have all the videos, you'll find it compelling enough to come over and Suffer there (and you'll be amazed at how it changes your training.)
- Yours in Suffering, David McQuillen
PS - Here's what we have in store for you in October...THIN AIR: A brutal 40 minute climb with surges, steep ramps and the shark!
THE OMNIUM: Two days and six track cycling events condensed into a chaotic 50 minutes!
IGNITER: A 20-minute warm up to fire up for an event and unleash your inner Sufferlandrian.
Revolver... hello, old friend! Do you remember that time we first met? I certainly do. It was a sunny miserable day outside and I was yet unacquainted with the joys of Suffering. This was a sad and dark time in my life. But there you were, Revolver, and there I was. Standing uncertain at the threshold of my bike torture chamber, Legs naively unaware of the pummelling about to befall them. I had purchased my first turbo trainer with the best intentions, but I hadn't used it in the three months since. ENTER SUFFERLANDRIA, you beckoned. And I, like a lemming, obliged.
Don't look behind you now, but some-THING is chasing you. Something like this... pic.twitter.com/HuRorqKgDl— The Sufferfest (@TheSufferfest) August 18, 2016
I was never so enterPAINed (to, what felt like, within an inch of my life) and I never felt more motivated to get back on the bike and try again. But don't take my word for it...
This statement is both so right and yet so wrong at the same time:
Counting has never been Grunter von Agony's forte either:
It's simple, it's brutal, and it was my first too!
Few chamois will ever be the same after that day.
Simple. Brutal. Effective. You're on. You're off/sobbing. You go hard and then do your absolute best to bring down your heart rate before it's time to obliterate yourself again. This workout stresses your VO2 and anaerobic system, so it's ideal for building your top end speed. Mercifully, all this happens in about 45 minutes, so you can easily crush it before work, at lunch or after the kids go to sleep.
Revolver combines footage from the track, downhill MTB, men's and women's road World Championships and Cyclocross World Championships. It was hard, but we packed in more Badass Visuals Per Cubic Second than ever before. Not that you'll get to see much of it, because you'll be blind from all the agony.
Just remember, you're being chased by Fluffy the -T-Rex at all times (so whatever you do don't look back).
The soundtrack to Revolver is a fan favourite, with classics like "Stand and Deliver", "Romeo Returns" and "Whiskey" that keep Sufferlandrians coming back for more Revolver. Here are all the songs the Minions could find on Spotify - almost the entire soundtrack!
Revolver is a fantastic first Sufferfest workout. It will blow you up into a million little pieces and help you understand what we're all about here - we know you'll be hooked! Revolver is PERFECT for criterium, track and cyclocross racers and non-serious cyclists who just want to get an enterPAINing workout in under an hour.
We also recommend that Revolver be used when one of your friends casually says "Pffft... Sufferfest?! How hard could it really be?" Keep the gleeful laughter to a minimum - until they've tried it, that is.
Revolver is a perfect analogy for the theory of relativity. One minute* alternately feels so brief (during the recoveries) and yet SO F@C4!%G LONG (during the interval). My strategy has always been to break down the high intensity segment into two chunks of 30 seconds or four blocks of 15 seconds. Survive each mini-portion and then survive the next (and so on).
You'll also want to...
*The recovery intervals are generally a bit shorter than one minute... Grunter's gift to you!
Just because the intervals are all the same doesn't mean you can't get a little creative...
Have you ridden Revolver differently? Make sure to leave instructions in the comments.
We've witnessed more pain, misery & AGONY in our time as Sufferlandrian Task Masters than could be contained in one simple tome. With every Sufferlandrian National Day, Tour of Sufferlandria and new video release, the interwebs are flooded with glorious photos of Sufferlandrian Patriots doing what they do best - shedding holy water and crushing their turbo trainers to within an inch of its life (and beyond!).
We've captured our favourites, and paired them with the finest meditations on Suffering from some of the greatest thinkers throughout civilisation. Get inspired to Suffer, by reading a minimum (and maximum) of one page of the great Book per day.
Without further ado, please enjoy The Book of Suffering, Volume II.
The photos have been selected from various social media platforms. If you see your photo and would like it removed please email TheMinions@TheSufferfest.com.
The forces of Couchlandria are strong and not to be underestimated. Just because they can't be bothered to do much of anything (except contemplate their navel) doesn't mean that they can't work their mind games on even the most devout disciples of Grunter von Agony. I mean, they have SOFAS and DONUTS!
But Sufferlandria is well-equipped to combat the forces of the enemy. This is the story about how The Way Out may be Sufferlandria's greatest secret weapon for destroying the Couchlandrian within.
It lulls you into a false sense of security:
We're not immune to some criticism, either:
Designed by Coach Sir Neal Henderson of BMC Racing and Apex Coaching, The Way Out is a 'sweet spot' workout that gives you an hour of efforts just below threshold and at a series of different cadences. Says Coach Neal, "The benefit of training just below FTP is that you can accumulate a fair amount of time there with minimal rest required. The recovery from the workout will be more rapid compared to above threshold intensity workouts and we find that there are great improvements in lactate clearance that occur from training just below threshold...even more so than when training above it."
Wait... hold the phone! Working a bit less hard for the same (or better!) training stimulus? If that's not sneaky, Couchlandrian destroying suffering, than what is?!
Even though a lot of the work is below threshold, the intervals and cadence targets are just tough enough (to earn another donut).
Quite simply, it's stunning. Just feast your eyes on this:
All footage was painstakingly pieced together by Grunter von Agony himself, but all the hard work of riding the damn mountains and getting the gorgeous footage fell on the capable shoulders of The Col Collective. Mike Cotty suffered so that we could too!
Mellower than your typical Sufferfest, but still extensively curated to suit the workout. We comb through hundreds (if not thousands) of songs across numerous licensing sites to bring you great tunes you wouldn't find anywhere else. Feelin' Alright by Bogan Via is a particular favourite.
Recovering Couchlandrians, aspiring Sufferlandrians, stage racers, fondo riders, group ride ninjas, fans of Mike Cotty and the #CowCollective - cyclists and fitness enthusiasts from all walks of life should absolutely work this hour-long workout into their routine. It hits the right zones, transports you to another place and will help dramatically transform your fitness.
Seriously, stick to the script. This is a well thought out workout, so don't go too hard, that's not what The Way Out was designed for.
There are a lot of low cadence/high pedal torque segments in The Way Out. If you suffer from anterior knee pain, or simply want another way to experience this workout, increase the low cadence targets (50-70 RPM) by ~ 20-40 RPM, depending on your comfort level and ability.
Not sure what 3 videos to take on for SUFDay? Why not let The Minions - and FATE! - decide for you? Use our handy wheel of Suffering -- just spin it three times and let your DESTINY WITH MISERY take it's proper course.
Don't have the video selected by The Wheel? Subscribe to our app (which has a 7-day free trial) to access the complete Sufferfest catalogue, publish rides directly to Strava & Facebook, analyze your workout and sync your heart rate monitor and other sensors for live feedback. Learn all about it here.
Once you have your results, leave them in the comments below, post them on Twitter (and tag us @TheSufferfest) or join in on all the fun at the official Facebook event page.
The amazing story of Phetetso and his journey to qualify for Rio 2016 is eclipsed only by the story of the generosity and support of our DreamMakers across the globe.
What started out as a wish to see Phetetso riding his dream bike at the Olympics is becoming visualised day by day as more and more people and brands add their contribution to the project.
The mission started out with a boost from Day One, when supporters from around the world – mostly Sufferlandrians – began donating towards Phetetso’s new bike. The Sufferfest founder, David McQuillen, together with Wattbike UK, kicked off the project by selling off a Wattbike and donating the money to the project ($1,000 AUD). Within just two days, more than $7,000 (USD) was raised – almost double the initial target. (Editor's note: We're still accepting donations - the money raised will ago to the young men and women of the team and every $100 raised will help a rider to support their family for a month.)
But it is not just the cash donations that have overwhelmed us. We are so humbled by the support of our partners in the cycling industry – both here in Africa and globally. Giant Bicycles South Africa has promised a fully sponsored, top-of-the-range Anthem Advanced frameset together with all the other Giant components. They have also offered us a full SRAM groupset at a great price.
The bike will be completed with Forks and Shock from SR Suntour (Germany), two sets of lightweight wheels from TOKEN (Taiwan), Ceramic Bearings for the Bottom Brackets and Pulley Wheels from C-Bear (Belgium), wide-range (9-44) TRS+ Cassette from E Thirteen (USA) and Oval Chainring from Absolute Black (UK). To cap it all off, Stages Power (USA) has sent one of its new carbon Powermeter Cranks to assist him in his preparations. We already have saddles from Velo (Taiwan), brake rotors and cables from Ashima (Taiwan) and chain lube/sealant from Squirtlube (South Africa).
It is not only the bike that will look fantastic at The Games – because our other DreamMakers have also contributed to make sure that Phetetso looks and feels great for the race of his life. Pactimo (USA) have designed a new Team Lesotho cycling kit for the event, Limar Helmets (Italy) have sent a custom-made helmet, DMT (Italy) have supplied a pair of their top-of-the-range MTB Shoes and Oakley (South Africa) will make sure he has the best eyewear. In addition, HIGH5 Sports Nutrition have promised a great selection of Energy products, including drink, gels and bars to keep him fit and healthy throughout his preparations.
We are also proud of the support from our local NOC, Lesotho National Olympic Committee, who despite a limited budget, have promised some funding towards additional equipment needed.
The amazing support we have received is a real encouragement to us and helps to validate the progress we are making as a team. The cycling industry has a reputation of being elitist – but I think this exercise just goes to prove that there are a lot of brands and people who care about the underdog and are willing to make a difference. It is very unlikely that Phetetso will come anywhere close to winning a medal at the Olympics, but what he will do is open the door for others to follow. Maybe one day in the near future, a young boy or girl, inspired by his achievements, will rise up from the poverty and win a cycling medal at the Olympics.
The Sufferfest is the principal sponsor of the ACE-The Sufferfest MTB Team, based in Lesotho. Team Manager Mark West will be updating us with an inside look at this underdog team and Phetetso Monese's quest for Olympic glory. Words and photos by Mark West.
UPDATE SEPTEMBER 2016: Find out what's next for Phetetso and the ACE - The Sufferfest - Lesotho MTB Team.
Anyone who follows African cycling would have heard the name Phetetso Monese on many occasions. Riding for the ACE - The Sufferfest - Lesotho MTB team, Phetetso is the team captain and superstar – the rider counted on to bring in the results. His leadership has taken the team to a UCI ranking in the top 40 worldwide - an unprecedented achievement for African cycling.
Over the years, he has won more than ten National Titles and can still show a clean pair of heels to the rest of his compatriots in most races. He has consistently been on the brink of a world top 100 ranking with a career best of 105.
In international races, Phetetso has earned a formidable reputation as the strong, “Rasta” rider, in reference to his long dreadlock hairstyle projecting from the back of his helmet.
At the age of 32, Phetetso shows no sign of slowing down. He had set himself targets of being competitive at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games and qualification for Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games -- but has already surpassed those goals by being the first cyclist from Lesotho ever to qualify for the Olympic Games. Phetetso is going to Rio.
How he did it is the true story.
While most of his competitors devote themselves entirely to their cycling aspirations, Phetetso had been working nine hours a day, seven days a week as a merchandiser for a well-known soft-drinks company. He spent his days taking inventory and making sure supermarket shelves and fridges are well-stocked. His predecessor was responsible for only two neighbouring stores, but Phetetso being conscientious and industrious services many more, using his bike as transport between customers.
His motive for putting in so many hours when he was available was so that his boss would be lenient when he needed to be away for cycling events. However, it did not always work out and occasionally Phetetso was forced to be left behind when the team traveled to some of the races.
Phetetso is a family man, married to Mareabetsoe with two little children – 4 year-old daughter, Reabetsoe and 8 month old son, Realeboha. The monthly salary of $80 gave the family security of food on the table and school fees for little Reabetsoe. It doesn’t sound like much, but they made it work while he competed against some of the best MTB riders in the world.
In this way, Phetetso demonstrates that he is not just a success on the bike, but also a success in life. It is not easy to balance work, training and family life on such a small budget.
It seems ironic that a man earning just $80 a month should be riding a $4000 bike - worth more than four years’ salary. But Phetetso has earned it! He started with a cheaper bike and made his way up. It would have been impossible for him to live his dream without the ACE-The Sufferfest-Lesotho MTB Team and our great team of #DreamMakers.
Following the announcement that The Sufferfest committed to sponsoring the team again for 2016, Mark West, team director, offered Phetetso the team's first “Pro” contract. As a team, they committed to supporting Phetetso and his family with an income of $100 every month, so that he can dedicate his time to the sport he loves without fear of his family suffering.
Since turning pro, Phetetso has taken a string of results, including a bronze medal in the Marathon and an 8th place in the XC at the African Continental Championships. His qualification for Rio is the latest chapter in this man's incredible and inspirational story. Sufferlandria is behind you, Phetetso!
---The Sufferfest is the principal sponsor of the ACE-The Sufferfest-Lesotho MTB Team, based in Lesotho. Team Manager Mark West will be updating us every month with an inside look at this underdog team. Words and photos by Mark West.
When we first glanced at the structure of the workout that would become Nine Hammers there was... hesitation. Sir David McQuillen, Chief Suffering Officer remarked, and I may be paraphrasing here, "This is too hard. Sufferlandrians are not going to be able to finish this... we're going to have to make it easier."
This is the story of Nine Hammers.
What we didn't know at the time was how painfully well-balanced this workout really was. Composed by none other than Sir Neal Henderson, Nine Hammers is a marvel of walking the knifes edge and eeking every last possible watt out of your legs...and then doing it eight more times.
Sir Aaron, our Minion of Sufferlandrian Support, did Nine Hammers during his Knighthood Quest. Here's his data from the Sufferlandrian Training Centre app. It's silky-smooth courtesy of the integration with the Wahoo KICKR, but there are some tell tale signs of weakness. I spotted a "cliff dive", where his power just bottoms out. He did well to recover, but the drop in heart rate tells me he may have had to talk himself in to starting to pedal again.
Frank is on the fence...
Sir James has shed a bit of holy water to Nine Hammers
Karen, well... have you met Karen?
Who were we to doubt Sir Neal Henderson's ability to craft a painfully delightful workout? Silly us! Nine Hammers is all about hitting the high notes - you guessed it - nine times. There are six VO2 max intervals and three threshold intervals, each lasting between 2m 30s and 4 minutes. Then you get to rest for about 2-3 minutes. You're done in just under an hour and, if you're like me, crawling to the shower with a huge grin on your face, humming a catchy tune.
There's some debate about which Hammer hurts most. Is it Hammer Two? Five? Nine? I wonder what Frank G thinks about this one...
The footage features some all out attackss and breakaways from the 2014 Tour de Romandie & Tour de Suisse, including footage of Chris Froome, Vincenzo Nibali, Rui Costa and Esteban Chaves.
The recovery footage was provided by none other than the Col Collective and features Mike Cotty letting gravity do the work (and sitting down for once).
Naturally, we worked our own brand of enterPAINment into the video...
I know it's controversial, because music is a matter of personal taste... but Nine Hammers might just have the best soundtrack ever! With funky electro bangers from LehtMoJoe, the surf rock of Ming Ming and the Ching Chings, the ever popular "In Michigan" by Sunny Side Up - to say nothing of Coke Machine.
*drops the mic*
Nine Hammers is a seriously good video to use when you're preparing for a crit, race or really snappy group ride. The VO2 and threshold intervals will push your speed and pain tolerance up to new heights and see you putting in attacks and being the wheel everyone wants to suck (not that you'd let them).
Nine Hammers is also great training that...
I'll let Dame Rachel dole out the wisdom here:
Now that summer is here, surely there is a tough hill or race you want TO CRUSH WITH YOUR BLINDING POWER?! If so, then plug in Nine Hammers, turn up the volume and shed holy water like the good Grunter intended. You can purchase Nine Hammers here, and app subscribers can stream or download the video for the ultimate experience.
The best lessons in life are the ones you learn the hard way. Like that time you were like "Pfffft, The Wretched is only 48 minutes - how hard could it be?!" and were then promptly schooled in the ways of Suffering.
But there's also those lessons that you just wish you didn't learn the hard way. Lessons like "When driving to a race, bring your cycling shoes!" The type of lessons that can derail or decrease your enjoyment of the more positive forms of Suffering. You've trained hard, so don't let anything get in the way of your shot at VICTORY.
As part of our #SUFFER365 series of blog posts and in order to spare you the pain (and embarrassment), the Minions have prepared a list of things do do when preparing for an event. If you think we forgot to mention anything important or want to share your own tips, please leave a comment below.
1. Make a thorough list of things you need to bring with you, including (but not limited to) your cycling shoes, water bottles, helmet, cycling computer, spares...and your dedication to TOTAL SUFFERING. Check the list, check it twice.
(A pretty thorough list for a two day stage race that included a time trial, road race and criterium. Did not forget to kiss my wife.)
2. Get a large plastic storage container and place everything on your list into this container (large items like track pump, turbo trainer excluded, obvs). This will make packing the car much easier (and not to mention unpacking when you're dog tired).
3. Know exactly how long it takes to drive to the event, find parking, register, pin your numbers on, set your turbo trainer up, warm up, go to the toilet (more on this later), pack your stuff back in the car before the start and so on. No detail is too small. If you're not sure, overestimate (free time > rushing/feeling stressed).
4. Learn the start time of the event and count back from there.
4a. Write in every detail as a run sheet so that you do not forget any important details LIKE PUMPING UP YOUR TYRES to the correct psi!
5. You've carb-loaded and hydrated properly for the big day. So has everyone else. Chances are your nervous stomach means you'll need to take a pre-race trip to the loo. So will everyone else. Maybe there are some portable toilets? Maybe you're in a small country town and there's one loo to share between all 500 race entrants. Just plan for there to be a line and awkward conversation.
6. Don't worry about what others are doing, what bike they have, what wheels they're using. You're a Grunt-darned Sufferlandrian. THEY ARE WORRIED ABOUT YOU! Stay focused, calm - you're in control.
They know you're a Sufferlandrian because you're kitted out in our BADASS gear, right? (And because your legs are scary strong.)
7. Prepare for after the ride by bringing along these essentials:
Did we forget anything? Make sure to leave your tips in the comments below!
The Sufferfest App for Mac, iPad and iPhone is the most affordable, and powerful, way to turbo-charge your fitness. Get unlimited access to our entire video library. Connect to your power meter, heart rate strap or smart trainer, and train to specific fitness targets exactly the way our coaches intended. You can even train with virtual power. Try it free today.