What's Cool In Road Cycling

PEZ Reviews: Sufferfest’s Local Hero

My much anticipated plans to hit the training hard at Christmas were kaiboshed by the pains of January – it was a lost month for various reasons, so with an end of February training camp looming on the near horizon, I need to jumpstart my program. Sufferfest’s “Local Hero” did the trick and got me off the couch.

The Sufferfest library of training videos is relatively new to the scene – our own Dr. Stephen Cheung reviewed the first batch right here back in November, and as a guy who spends a lot of his year on the indoor trainer waiting for the winter snows to clear from his hometown of St. Catherine’s Ontario, he’s had multiple opportunities to test a variety of offerings in the indoor training tool category. He knows his stuff, and his scientific mind predisposes him to approach any evaluation like only a science and training nerd of his mettle could.

Sufferfest’s “Local Hero” video pits you against the world’s best riders at the 2010 World Championships in Geelong.

Steve looked at Downward Spiral, Revolver, Fight Club, and Angels, and introduced PEZ-Fans to these Sufferfest offerings in his inimitably thorough and pragmatic style. So while the February sun shows hints of warmth here at PEZ HQ in Vancouver, it’s been a full month since I turned a pedal out of doors. In fact, my last ride was two hours in just above freezing temps, from which I returned numb at the extremities, and soon picked up a vicious cold that was just the start of my worst January in memory.

So while my health has slowly returned, my desire to venture outside remains lukewarm until a thoroughly decent day shows its face. These of course, are perfect conditions to mount up the CycleOps Powerbeam pro indoor trainer, and let the sweatin’ begin.

That’s right Gilbert… I’m comin’ to getcha!

One thing I like about the Sufferfest videos is the variety of workouts and themes initially offered. “Local Hero” is the sixth in their series and sets you as the lone representative of the fictional country called “Sufferlandria”, and as such the lone hope to inspire national pride and glory amongst your fellow Sufferlandrians at the 2010 World Championships in Geelong, where most of the video takes place. True to Sufferfest form, this video is full of humor as onscreen text sets the stage, explains the workouts, and inspires & cajoles you into ‘suffering’.

What sets the Sufferfest series apart from simply watching the race events while you train, is that each workout has been cut together in a mash-up of cool race & riding footage, inspirational music from a variety of musicians you’ve probably never heard of, and onscreen ‘messages’ that should at least cause a smirk as you work through a variety of interval sessions on your trainer.

The warm up here’s a nice introduction cyclocross – without the hassle of getting dirty.

The Workout
The deal here is that you ride the mens’ elite ITT and road race at the Worlds, and actual video footage of the events has been licensed by Sufferfest to set you right in the action racing against the World’s best riders. And like the rest of the Sufferfest series, you end up ‘racing’ against the big boys of cycling – Millar, Cadel, Gilbert, Nibali, Hushovd – it’s cool.

Like all Sufferfest videos there’s a nice warm up to ease you into it, this time with a local cross race and criterium, so you’re nice and warm by the time the main event rolls in.

The 85 minutes of sessions are broken into:
• Local race: 5:00 warm up
• Local Crit: 3:00 jumps
• TT: 3 x 6:00 pyramids with 2:00 rests
• Road Race: 5 x 3:00 road race efforts with 2:00 rests
• Sprints for Sufferlandrian legend status
• 5:00 warm down

Each interval session is layed out in easy to follow …words.

Each of the sessions are clearly explained on the screen, and there’s plenty of warning when things are about to heat up, so you’re never off the back… unless you want to be. The efforts are rated on the universal scale of 1-10, so you can gauge your effort to dial up as much (or little) suffering as you like. Of course you’re supposed to go hard… that’s the whole point of suffering, right? I noticed a couple of times that my early session enthusiasm was much like my racing style – go too hard too soon and then dial ‘er back when the gasping and wheezing threatened to knock me off my bike.

And each interval comes with plenty of warning, so you can mash out the watts without the annoying distraction of thinking.

I really liked the fact that the onscreen instructions tell me exactly when and how hard I have to go, and when I can rest – sure beats the heck out of looking at your watch, and the onscreen racing footage has been well used to build to the frenzy of watt-induced suffering, enjoyed in the comfort of your own training facility (ie: basement, garage, etc). As an aside, they’ve got a cool gallery of readers’ Bike Torture Chambers on their site that sidetracked me for more than a few minutes.

A little encouragement never hurts.

My own Bike Torture Chamber with laptop plugged into the tv for a bigscreeen session.

While interviewing Mike Pryde for my review of the Neilpryde Alize, he mentioned he’d used some of the Sufferfest videos, and they were pretty hard. Of course your mileage may vary, but as I got into the sessions, I found myself laying on the floor after my warm down, really feeling like I’d been through some serious effort.

Buying the videos is darn simple – each individual video is only $10.99 (or a group use version for $16.99), and you can download on the spot. Okay – Local Hero is $11.99, but it’s also their first video over an hour in length. The Group edition for Local Hero costs $17.99 and includes three files: the group version (no music, no taunts so instructor can run own music and own instructions), a pdf with full workout breakdown and the individual version of the video which the buyer can also use in a group setting.

Check this – you’re right in there!

The files are pretty big, it took me about 20-30 minutes to download Local Hero, so give yourself some time to get set up before starting.

Like a lot guys, I’ve built up my library of race and training videos, and like most of you, I’ve watched ‘em all about hundred times. What I crave is the new content to keep these boring as hell indoor sessions from being just that. The Sufferfest delivers. And for a few measly bucks, they’re an easy addition, plus some great workouts while we wait for the warmer days ahead.

• Get Local Hero Here:

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