Beauty & The Beast: The Col Collective spawns offspring with The Sufferfest.

This article first appeared for Cyclist Magazine

What does cycling have in common with Disney’s animated films? Until now, not much other than Mario Cipollini's 'Lion King' phase. However, a recent collaboration between two well-known cycling brands has put us in mind of ‘Beauty and the Beast’.

The graceful and intellectual ‘beauty’ is The Col Collective, a series of videos on YouTube that aim to inspire and educate cyclists about some of the world’s most famous mountain roads. The Col Collective’s videos feature serene mountain views, peaceful European villages and plenty of gorgeous hairpin bends.

Meanwhile, the callus and brutish ‘beast’ is The Sufferfest, a series of workout videos to help get you through sessions on the stationary trainer. The Sufferfest isn’t a misnomer - most of the videos feature high-intensity intervals set to professional racing footage and a high-energy soundtrack designed to leave you in a puddle of sweat (or ‘Sufferlandrian Holy Water’, as they call it) by the end.

Well, the two of them have - somewhat improbably - got together. The result? They’ve spawned a video called ‘To Get To The Other Side.’ And just like the end of ‘Beauty and the Beast,’ it’s probably going to make you cry - but for different reasons.  We sat down with Col Collective founder Mike Cotty to find out more about the collaboration.

Q: Mike, you’ve just collaborated with The Sufferfest on a cycling workout video called ‘To Get to the Other Side’. Is this more beauty - or beast??

A: A bit of both, actually! Essentially ‘To Get To The Other Side’ is a 90 minute endurance / tempo style video designed to build your base fitness with a series of specific longer, lower intensity intervals and strength work to get you through the winter. That’s not to say it’s really easy though - naturally The Sufferfest aim to have you work up a good sweat - but the video journey highlights the real beauty of cycling by taking you on a ride over some of the greatest mountains in Austria and Italy.

What did you set out to accomplish with ‘To Get To The Other Side’?

Everyone knows The Sufferfest for their high intensity cycling workouts. But even they know it’s not possible (or good) to beast yourself everyday. The problem is that ‘easy’ or ‘base training’ sessions are notoriously boring. So our goal was to create something that would really keep you engaged and focused during these lower-intensity sessions. My ambition with The Col Collective is to bring to life the feeling that the great outdoors instils - the freedom and serenity of the mountains - and to share that with others. ‘To Get To The Other Side’ takes that a step further, helping build your fitness as well.

Was there any point during the filming of ‘To Get To The Other Side’ that you wished you were back in your living room on the turbo trainer?

The worst times are when we’ve been overly optimistic about how much we can fit into the day, finishing up late, only to remember we have a long transfer to the next mountain. 1-2am bedtime, a handful of hours sleep, rinse and repeat. It means your head can feel like it’s been put into the spin dryer. It’s at those times I’d rather finish a hard turbo session for sure!

What was it like to see the video come to life for you?

We were really intrigued at how it was all going to come together, mainly as The Sufferfest videos traditionally have a very different feel to them, using footage taken from professional racing. Personally I was a bit nervous at how both The Sufferfest and The Col Collective would meld together, but when I saw the early edit with a mix of captivating footage, on screen info and even a few comedic moments, I was really impressed. It also goes without saying that the workout designed by Coach Neal Henderson of Apex Coaching and BMC Racing, is exceptional - absolutely perfect for a 90 minute base building session.

What’s the feedback been like so far? Have Sufferlandrians and Col Collective fans mutually embraced the video?

So far it’s been overwhelmingly positive - which is a big relief! Sufferfest fans are a passionate bunch, so it’s been even more pleasing to read the comments of appreciation despite this being quite far away from what they’ve come to expect. Hearing that some have even booked holidays to Austria and Italy to tackle the passes of the Grossglockner, Giau, Erbe or Monte Grappa after watching the video is the icing on the cake. Come summertime they’ll be able to put their fitness to good use and experience these mountains firsthand. Brilliant!

Why is it a great session for Bicycling readers?

These lower intensity workouts really help build a fitness foundation. Hopefully the combination of a structured endurance workout while tracing the way over some of the most beautiful mountains in Europe will not only keep riders entertained and inspired but also help take their cycling to the next level. And when they’re ready for some higher intensity, then riders can even drop it down a gear and ride the climbs at a harder effort.  In that respect you can still use the video throughout the year when you’re looking to make yourself suffer that little bit more!

You can get To Get to the Other Side here.

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