The Sufferfest and Wahoo: A Match Made in Agonia
Just a few months shy of 10 years ago, and late at night from a spare room in the Zurich apartment I shared with my wife and kids, I finally put the finishing touches on a little cycling workout video I made called The Downward Spiral. After making sure the website I built was working and that the logo was in the right place, I sent an email out to about 100 people who had downloaded a few of my earlier ‘bootleg’ Sufferfest videos and let them know that the very first video from The Sufferfest was for sale.
Back then, indoor training wasn’t really cool. At all. It was a sad activity that was rather looked down upon by those cyclists who thought they knew what ‘tough’ really was. I felt differently. I knew that indoor cycling was getting me more fit than my outdoor group rides. And, since I had a job and a family, it was a far more efficient way to get a workout in. The only things I needed to make it better were properly structured workouts and some entertainment to keep the boredom at bay. So that’s what I made.
Today, indoor cycling is one of—if not the—fastest growing segment of the cycling industry. Gone are the early days of Spinervals and clunky, fan-based “turbo trainers”. Now we have smart trainers. ERG mode. Hardware and software actually working together. Structured workouts and training plans. Virtual worlds. Dozens of training apps. New hardware manufacturers. Most importantly—widespread acceptance that training indoors works.
Over the past ten years The Sufferfest has had to reinvent itself many times. We started as a media ‘company’ selling downloadable videos (and calling ourselves a “company” back then was really a stretch). Today, we’re a successful subscription-based technology company that serves the needs of individual athletes as well as gyms and studios. We’ve cultivated important industry partnerships and have a sports science division that’s second to none, led by one of the best coaches in the world. We’ve developed ground-breaking training technology like 4DP, hosted our critically-acclaimed SUFCamps and launched SUFCoaching. But we also have Fluffy, shredded chamois, pain suckers, Knights, laser goats, Grunter von Agony, the steep side of Mt. Sufferlandria, pain, misery, agony, honour, glory and victory—a deep, rich culture and the most awesome, passionate and supportive customer base in the world: our Sufferlandrians.
We’re not alone in our journey from small, scrappy outfit to innovative leader in the indoor training space. One of the biggest agents of change in the indoor cycling industry has been Wahoo Fitness. Like us, they started very small—with a little plastic thingy called a dongle that you plugged into an iPhone so you could connect to your fitness devices. Also like us, they kept reinventing themselves. They viewed their mission broadly and created new products that helped endurance athletes achieve their goals. The launch of the Wahoo KICKR—the world’s first smart trainer—was arguably the most important moment in our industry’s history (after the release of The Downward Spiral, of course). Today, they have a full suite of award-winning fitness products and continue to push the envelope.
But it’s people who make a company. The people at Wahoo who run the business, build the products and serve the Wahooligan community have become our trusted friends. Wahoo has long been one of our key partners. My team and I have enjoyed collaborating with them on projects over the past few years, drawing inspiration from their innovation, their culture and how they’ve managed to grow without sacrificing quality or integrity. We’ve found courage and a sense of kinship in how they brought unheard of ideas to market (how about that fan!) and reinvented old ones (that ELEMNT!). Many members of staff at Wahoo have ridden the Tour of SUF and become Knights of our Nation.
As companies and communities, Wahoo Fitness and The Sufferfest are cut from the same cloth. And so, as our industry reaches a new stage in its growth, it made a lot of sense to come together. They had gaps in their software, sports science, content and commercial (gyms/studio) business. We lacked scale and tight hardware integration. Together, we’re stronger in the fight against Couchlandria and all it stands for. The fit is perfect.
That’s not to say it was an easy decision to join the Wahoo Family. The Sufferfest has always been...a little different. My amazing team of 28 people and I are made of SUF stuff. Sufferlandia is a proud Nation. Sufferlandrians are a powerful people. I thought about all of you an awful lot. And—as trite as it might sound—The Sufferfest is my baby. Ok, a rather aggressive, unforgiving, lactic acid spewing baby covered in molten lava, but it’s still my baby.
So it took some time to think about it. But the more we did, the more it made sense. And the more it made sense, the more excited we became. And the more excited we became the more often we had to go and do The Shovel to calm ourselves down again so we could think clearly. And when clarity once again descended, it was obvious: Wahooligans and Sufferlandrians belong together.
And so, the cycle of reinvention—for both The SUF and for Wahoo—continues. Together, we form the most complete ecosystem in the industry. Together, we’ll be able to bring new concepts to market faster and with more sophistication. There are great things in store (now before all you Android fans start writing me to tell me that the store better have Android….yes, Wahoo wants us to build it). Together, we’re going to have a lot of fun.
At the same time, we will still work apart. The Sufferfest will remain an independent product, team, brand and Nation. We’ll continue to work with our other hardware partners to ensure seamless compatibility and a first-class experience with the app regardless of what kind of trainer you’re on. Wahoo will continue to work with its other software partners (but, really, why would you want to use anything other than The SUF?). We’ll continue to put out the best content and the best sports science to help you #BeatYourBest. And, of course, we’ll continue to be quirky and edgy and, above all, we’ll still be downing shots of Real Pagne over at the Nine Hammers Tavern. You’ll always have a place at our table.
We are thrilled to be a part of Wahoo Fitness.
Now hold my pain sucker while we turn this thing up to 11/10.
—Sir David McQuillen, Founder and Chief Suffering Officer at The Sufferfest
Read The Official Press Release