#SUFSTORIES - John Stachlewicz


If you open the English-Sufferlandrian dictionary and look for the translation of “to lose”, you’re going to be disappointed. Nothing. A blank entry. Losing is a concept that does not exist in that mythical country where the Holy Water flows in mighty rivers and the mountains of spent turbo trainers reach proudly towards the sky. But there is one exception — one case in which a Sufferlandrian can lose mightily, yet still be celebrated. That exception is embodied in American John Stachlewicz.


In early September, 2014, John was standing on the edge of a precipice. Dangerously overweight at over 300 pounds (136kg), he had newborn twins that he knew he would soon have to chase after. Twenty-five years ago, John was fit but the death of his cycling mentor and close friend in a bike race in 1991 changed his life. He couldn’t look at a bike, let alone get back on one.

He turned to other avenues for comfort, and began a cycle of yo-yo weight gain and weight loss. Unable to even climb a flight of stairs without being winded, John knew he had to do something. He considered bariatric surgery and was on the cusp of scheduling the surgery. Then he looked in the mirror. The person he saw wasn’t who he wanted to be. For himself, or for his children.


“I realised that even if I went through with bariatric surgery, it was only going to change my stomach, it wasn’t going to change my lifestyle, or my relationship with myself. On September 4th, 2014, I put my foot down. I had a spin bike and I decided to ride again. I found The Sufferfest online and when I saw the trailer for The Wretched I snapped. I thought, ‘That’s me. That’s my life. I’m a Couchlandrian. How did this happen?’ I made a commitment to myself, to my wife, and to my kids to be something better. I started riding in Sufferlandria.”

In less than a year of Sufferfest sessions, John had lost 110 pounds (50kg). But even this loss wasn’t enough for the new man that John had become. He started riding outside again and even started racing.


Clearly on a mission, the man who could barely walk up the stairs finally decided to take on the greatest indoor cycling challenge in the world: riding 10 Sufferfest videos back-to- back in one day to become a Knight of Sufferlandria.

“It was me and the twins in the living room. My wife didn’t want me sweating all over the place, so I put my spin bike in a baby pool. My ‘Sufferlandrian Holy Water catcher’. To keep the babies at a safe distance I put my spin bike in a playpen so I had some crowd control.”

“It was the absolute hardest thing I’ve ever done. By the seventh video I thought I couldn’t go on. But I thought of the Sufferlandrians all over the world who were supporting me. I couldn’t let them down. I couldn’t let myself down. On July 3rd, 2015, I climbed off the bike after 11 and a half hours and became a Knight of Sufferlandria.”


“The Sufferfest has literally changed, if not saved my life. It’s more than just cycling videos. It’s a community I can count on. And it changed the way I look at things. If something is a challenge, that’s okay. I can meet those challenges. I know what it feels like to push myself now, to do what even a few months ago would’ve been impossible. It even gave me the strength to get my first tattoo: The Sufferlandrian Coat-of-Arms. That tattoo is a permanent reminder of where I’ve come from, how far I’ve gone, and the fact that once you enter Sufferlandria, you can never leave.”

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