It all started off as a bit of a laugh really. One cold, dark and miserable evening, while bouncing ideas for new workouts around SUF HQ, I turned to David "Chief Suffering Officer" McQuillen and said "You know what's really missing is a 30 minute climb." To which he replied "Why stop at 30 minutes?"
(Incidentally, this is a prime example of why the man is continually brought before the United Nation to answer questions about Human Rights violations.)
As soon as my legs stopped twitching in the conditioned fear response our videos inspire in me, I naturally agreed that a 40 minute climb would be an AWESOME ideas. So, we set about making this twisted idea into a reality.
After Sir Neal Henderson got involved we settled on our first 'summit finish' video, a session truly designed by Sufferlandrians for Sufferlandrians.
...but then you have to follow through with it. Once you realise that "If we make this we're going to have to do it too!" you start to understand why the average resting heart rate of a Minion is 220 BPM...
The story for the climb began to come together as we worked with footage from the 2016 Giro d'Italia. The race was packed full of attacks, breaks and amazing scenes of epic Suffering. Once GvA knit the footage together and the Minions programmed the workout into the app. it was ready for initial testing. Dave, being the brave one, was first.
While doing the workout, he looked like he was being beaten with a sledgehammer on fire. As soon as he got off (and that did take a little while) and stepped into the not-insignificant pool of Sufferlandrian Holy Water beneath him, he said only three words: "It's too easy.
The Minions knew what they had to do.
The surges became longer and harder, the attacks more frequent. More testing and more refining took place. Then, one day, it was my turn...
I found myself in Hobart, Tasmania for a test run of Thin Air at one of two local Sufferlandrian Embassies.
The instructor that night was a real hard ass, but he kept the class motivated and focused on absolutely CRUSHING the climb, dropping Fireball and destroying The Shark (you'll find out who they are in the video). With Courageous Sufferlandrians by my side I knew I had to put my best effort in. Holy water was shed, curses muttered, efforts grovelled, lakes of Sufferlandrian Holy Water filled... it was sublime!
It may take awhile before you feel the full effects of Thin Air...
When you're compared to one of cinema's all-time best villains, you know you're doing something right!
Allow us to paraphrase for Kelly: "I'm not crying! Pain is just leaving my body through my tear ducts!"
Thin Air was unleashed onto the world after countless emails and posts on social media BEGGING us not to make anything like it. This inspired Sir Neal Henderson to no end.
A hallmark of Sir Neal's workouts are that you are constantly brought to the edge and walked back just a bit. Then you're shown that edge again, walked back, to the edge again, maybe over it, then back...and so on. Here's how he does it:
We won't give much away, but just be on the lookout for The Shark. If he senses blood in the water he'll attack and shred every chamois in sight... and remember, Sufferlandrians don't get dropped!
This year's Giro d'Italia featured some epic climbing stages and attracted some of the world's strongest climbers, including Esteban 'Chavito' Chaves, Steven Kruijswijk & Vincenzo Nibali. Here's a sample of the action:
If you're not in a hypoxic state you'll love the soundtrack for Thin Air, which is dominated by one of our favourite finds of late, the artist Paris Burns. "Bombs Away" kicks it at just the right time. Enjoy!
It's your duty as a Sufferlandrian to soak up as much pain, misery & agony and convert it into honour, glory & VICTORY. Thin Air is 60 minutes packed with the goods, so stop reading this and start SUFFERING!
Seriously, Thin Air is great for...
This is the STEEP SIDE OF MT. SUFFERLANDRIA PEOPLE !!! Prepare yourself mentally and physically for a lung popping, leg burning, teeth clenching, fist pumping rollercoaster of a ride. You'll feel so bad it'll start to feel good, we promise!
Hey good lookin' pic.twitter.com/vslwKyC4ho— The Sufferfest (@TheSufferfest) October 14, 2016
Here's a few things the Minions have learned about 'conquering' Thin Air...
Let's face it. The road to glory is paved in many ways and sometimes "less is more". If you need a good tempo or sweet spot effort after a hard day or during an easier phase of your training, don't hesitate to dial down the intensity.
OR, if it's been a while since your last visit to the Doctor and you're feeling particularly fresh and frisky, you can turn it up to 11 and test your limits (and sanity). Grunterspeed!
Destroy the inner Couchlandrian with Thin Air! Thin Air is exclusive to the Sufferfest Training Centre app. Learn more and start your free trial today.
Just released in the Sufferfest app, The Omnium is a very special video indeed. Not only does it have a spot where you're supposed to lay down in all of that Holy Water you just spilled, but we also had to create some new graphics to deal with the MAX effort you have to make in a couple of the intervals.
However, what's at least as interesting about the Omnium is how this evil beast was brought into the world. It started innocently enough when I (David McQuillen, Sufferfest Chief Suffering Officer here) was at the UCI Track World Championships in London, England. I was there attending some UCI meetings. One evening, I was able to get trackside and watch some of the races.
It was there that I started to have bad thoughts.
Amongst the races that night were a couple from the Omnium competition. I'd first followed the Omnium at the London Olympics. Here is what it's about (from Wikipedia):
"The Omnium is a multiple race event in track cycling in which all contestants compete against each other in six different disciplines. The omnium determines the best all-round track cyclist, as the disciplines feature both sprint events and endurance events. Riders must have the ability to combine and be competitive in all disciplines to finish well in the event. Generally, the omnium suits endurance riders with higher top speed and a strong sprint. It is also carefully balanced between 3 time trials and 3 mass start events."
The Omnium takes place over two days. As a Sufferlandrian, I was disgusted. "Two days?" I said to myself. "WTF do they need all that time for? A Sufferlandrian could do all that in an hour."
One man could put this right. From my seat up in the velodrome stands, I sent a text message to Sir Neal Henderson who was in the middle of the track as a coach with the USA national team*.
"Can you meet for a beer tonight?" I asked.
"Absolutely." came the reply.
Later that evening, Sir Neal and I met up at a local craft beer bar. Over a local bitter, he told tales of the national team's races, the hopes for BMC Racing in the World Tour and how he was working with Evelyn Stevens for her upcoming World Hour Record attempt. Although I never tire of hearing Sir Neal's stories, I felt that I needed to get serious about more pressing matters: namely, the Suffering of Sufferlandrians across Sufferlandria.
I went to the bar and ordered two bottles of Belgium's fine Chimay Bleu. Returning, I poured the glasses and looked Sir Neal straight in the (bleeding) eyes.
"Listen, I want to make a Sufferfest video based on the Omnium."
"What, like all six events?"
"Yes. All six," I said staring into the darkness of my Chimay.
"But you know events like the Kilometer are the most destructive efforts a cyclist can make, right?"
"Really? Even better."
"And the pursuit is something that even the best riders in the world fear, you know? These events are absolutely maximum intensity, high cadence, high concentration, brutal, brutal, brutal efforts that lay waste to the morale and determination of even the most elite of track cyclists."
"Oh, that's awesome. Sufferlandrians will just love that. I know them. They will. Can you design it?"
"But you know these events take place over two days and that riders prepare all year to ride them. You want to simulate them in an hour? That's not even humane." said Sir Neal with an unnerving grin on his face.
"So you don't care if the United Nations smacks Sufferlandria with more sanctions due to the clear human rights violations that such a video would bring about?"
"Oooooooo....." And with that, Sir Neal broke into an evil laugh that carried through the bar and down the halls of the adjacent mall.
* Yet again, Sufferlandria did not get invited to a World Championship event. Shameful.
The Omnium, with workout designed by Evil Genius Sports Scientist Sir Neal Henderson of Apex Coaching, is available exclusively at Sufferlandrian Embassies and in The Sufferfest Training Centre App. You can get the app, and all the Suffering contained therein, here.
UPDATE: SMART TRAINER CONTROL IS NOW INSTALLED!
The Minions have been Chamois Dancing all night to celebrate the release of our Sufferfest Training Centre Windows Beta App. It does have our three newest videos (Thin Air, The Omnium and Igniter), but it doesn't yet have downloadloadable videos. That will come on the 4th of November with our full release. It's still a pretty awesome and effective bundle of Suffering, though. Want to sign up?
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.
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.