Choose Your Own Adventure: Four Ways to Ride the Tour of Sufferlandria

There is no doubt that the Tour of Sufferlandria is the Greatest Grand Tour of a Mythical Nation in the World. It’s one of the toughest physical challenges you can take on. But *exactly* how tough it should be depends on what the Tour means to you, your experience level, and whether you’re using the Tour as a springboard to other goals.

So everyone can ride the Tour, regardless of fitness, experience or circumstance, Sufferlandrian National Team Coach Sir Neal Henderson of APEX Coaching has developed four different ways to ride the Tour. All options are approved and heartily endorsed by Grunter von Agony and the Ministry of Suffering. Whatever option you choose, you’re riding the Tour. As Tour riders we’re in this together for HONOUR, GLORY, and VICTORY!

1. The Money Raising Option

Take this option if: You can’t do all the stages but you really want to be part of the fun.


Maybe life just isn’t going to let you do the full Tour this year. Don’t let life stop you! Just pick a few stages that you can ride, commit to riding them 100% and start raising money for the Davis Phinney Foundation. You’ll have a blast, be part of the fun, and you can heckle the other riders from the sidelines of the stages you’re not riding.

Sir Neal says to expect the following with this option:


  • Intense personal satisfaction from raising money for a worthy cause.
  • Increased confidence from nailing a few stages of the Tour with an eye to a full completion in 2019.
  • You won’t earn a ToS finishers badge in the app, but who cares. The 2019 one will be nicer.

2. The Get it Done Option

Take this option if: You want to finish the Tour, but need to do it on your terms.


You want to prove to yourself that you can take on something big and finish it off. You want to Suffer, but you need to do it on your own terms. Excellent. You know, most professional cyclists riding the Tour de France do the same thing - they target a few stages that suit their strengths and try to conserve energy on others. So, even though you’re not a pro, you’re smart like a pro! In this option, you should identify 3-5 key stages you’re going to ride at 100%. These can be whatever stages you like, but should be ones you’re highly motivated to perform on. Space them out so you can recover in-between on the other stages, which you should ride at 70-90%...or whatever intensity works for you depending on how you’re feeling. Push yourself, but don’t lose sight that your main goal is to finish.

Sir Neal says you can expect the following if you take this option:


  • Nutrition and recovery will still be key, but need particular attention the day before and on your targeted stages.
  • You’ll need to be mentally up to the task of lifting your game on target days, so try something like the focus exercise in the Mental Training Programme.
  • You will still have good and bad days. If you get to a target stage and your legs aren’t up to the challenge, either fight through it to learn how you cope in such a situation or change the plan and target another stage.
  • A faster recovery (generally in about 7 days) than those on the Nuclear option. It might take longer depending on your level of fitness at the start of the Tour and if you happen to target The Kitchen Sink finale as a targeted stage.


3. The Focused Option

Take this option if: You want to ride a good Tour, but don’t want it to compromise your goals a little further down the road.

Like any pro cyclist, you have goals that might not line up with the race you’re about to do. You need to ride the event out of a patriotic loyalty, but you can't totally smash yourself because you've got some events coming up in the near-term and you're on a training plan at the moment. If that’s the case, then take this option. Identify the stages that suit your strengths (as determined by your 4DP profile) and ride them at 85-90% intensity, with all other stages done at 70-80% to keep you on track post-Tour.

Sir Neal says to expect the following with the Focused option:


  • You might find it frustrating on days where you feel great to keep the intensity low(er), but rest assured the Tour will still grind you down...but not so much that you won’t rise again for your goals down the road.
  • It’s still going to be really hard, so it’s still critical to think about staying on top of nutrition, hydration and rest/recovery since you’ll be riding 9-straight days!
  • You’re going to recover faster...most likely in about 5-6 days depending on how much you rest after the Tour.


4. The Nuclear Option

Take this option if: You’ve been waiting for the chance to destroy yourself and this is it.


This is the Tour at 100% from the start, holding that as long as you can before you spectacularly burst into flames. And you will burst into flames. But, as a Sufferlandrian, you’ll pick up the ashes, mix them with a bit of Real Pagne and Holy Water, form it into a shape resembling you and get cracking again at full pelt. Until you burst into flames again. Glorious.

Sir Neal says to expect the following with the Nuclear Option:


  • Nutrition and recover are going to be critical. Pay extra attention to what you’re eating and drinking, build recovery into your schedule and make sure you get lots of sleep.
  • Progressive decline in power output over the duration of the Tour. It’s expected and its OK because...
  •’re going to experience epic, epic, epic levels of Suffering. This makes it a…
  • ...real mental challenge. Which, if you’re considering a post-Tour Knighthood, will be a useful exercise.
  • Full recovery from the Tour will likely take at least 7 to 10 days or possibly more, depending on your baseline fitness at the beginning of the Tour.
  • With a training overload this big, some people might not see as much of a fitness increase as possible due to the extreme nature of the Nuclear Tour.
  • Lastly, your immune system is going to take a hit, increasing your risk of upper respiratory tract infection. So take care of yourself and pay extra attention to hygiene in public settings (wash your hands, wash your hands, wash your hands).


And don't forget...

No matter what option you take, don’t forget three very important things:

  • Every stage is open as long as it is that day somewhere on Earth. That means there is a 50-hour window for every stage. Use that window wisely to help gain some additional rest. You can see countdown timers and open/close times for popular time zones here.
  • As mentioned above, nutrition matters. Read the chapter about the Tour in the free ‘Eating to Suffer’ book that comes free with your app subscription. You can find it in the ‘Training Plans’ section of the app at the bottom.
  • Whatever option you choose is personal. You don’t need to tell anyone what option you’re on, there will be no categories of riders and no competition. As Sufferlandrians, all we care about is that you push yourself and do a ride you're proud of. Of this, we have full confidence in you.

With these four options, there is no reason not to ride. Those living with Parkinson’s Disease are counting on you. It’s your patriotic duty as a Sufferlandrian to be on the start line with the other members of your nation. Plus, it’s a lot of fun. Choose your path and ride with COURAGE.  We’ll see you there.

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