A Sufferlandrian Health Check. Ouch!

As any man of my age knows, the words “rubber gloves” will usually bring a grimace to the face and an involuntary tightening of the sphincter. So when I saw The Sufferfest had released a new video called Rubber Glove, I wasn’t exactly looking forward to it. A saw David posting on Twitter and Facebook about how he was putting it together, screen shots of the video editing software with stuff all over the place. I still wasn’t thinking of getting it. Then it was released. Still nothing was compelling me.





Well if anything is going to motivate me it is giving my ego a tickle. Hello PayPal. Goodbye a few measly dollars. Hello Rubber Glove.


A little about Rubber Glove. It isn’t your normal SufferFest video. This is basically a test to work out your FTP. Now before your eyes glaze over and you go back to Angry Birds, FTP just means Functional Threshold Power, not Finger To Pooper, as Rubber Glove may suggest. If you wear a cardigan and sport a generous beard, refill your pipe and check out this link to learn more.

Now it has been a while since I visited the SufferCell. There have been some health issues for family members and mates, so I haven’t had the bike time I usually would have. Also, the electronic gizmos in the SufferCell had had some issues. The 7 year old MacBook Pro had started blowing smoke from its undercarriage and as any technician will tell you, unless you can grab that smoke and get it back in the machine, things are pretty much stuffed.

So now the SufferCell has some new digital whizzbangery and we are back in business.

After some technical misunderstandings with Windows 8, it was go time.

You have a few minutes of gentle rolling the legs over before you start the gradual increase in tempo that is the basic warm up. Now I was doing the warm up and was finding it quite a challenge. The SufferFest video was telling me I was supposed to be at 5/10 effort. TrainerRoad however was demanding I should be pushing harder. WTF?

I have done a FTP test previously using TrainerRoad, so was using my previous FTP, 267 watts, as a benchmark. I had gotten used to what certain power numbers felt like and the effort and heart rate that roughly lined up with those numbers. There was definitely something amiss. To hit the numbers at 5/10 effort, my heart rate was at 165. Way too high. I can only guess at what was happening. Was there a different power profile for the JetBlack Z1 Fluid trainer in the latest version of TrainerRoad? Had I mistakenly chosen the wrong trainer? Had I set the wheel circumference wrong? Or was I just a fat old man who had lost some fitness? I hoped it was the first option. I suspect it was the last.

The long warm up finished and I was struggling. This gave me some relief.

Now it was quite cool in the SufferCell, about 13C when I started, so I hadn’t bothered to turn the fan on. Before the real hard graft had begun, I was back to being the human sprinkler. I was sweating like a Gypsy with a mortgage. I look at the video and there is a leggy blonde mocking me by cooking an omelet whilst on a set of rollers!!! It is Siri Minge from Team HiTec and you can see it here.

Nothing like seeing an attraction young lady to give a suffering man a boost. Now was no time to be sucking the gut in and puffing up the chest. There were more efforts in store. Four nasty one minute bursts of high cadence to loosen the legs up.

I struggled through these four sets of high cadence hell. I might have gone too hard. When I start to spin these fat stumps of legs up, I start to feel all pro and can’t help myself. I think a mirror might be needed in the SufferCell just to show me who I am. No time for contemplating my ever deepening navel, the time had come.

The Sufferfest is good enough to suggest a steady first five minutes, then 10 minutes of hard effort and the last five minutes just emptying the tank, going as hard as possible. I took no notice of the first 15 minutes. As can be seen from the TrainerRoad graph below, the first 15 minutes was a fight to keep the power at the same level. The final 5 minutes though was sheer hell. I would rather have Andre the Giant snap on a rubber glove and give me a prostate exam. I felt like an octopus climbing Everest wearing an anchor as a hat! That was an actual thought I had, which will give you some idea of were my head was. My heart rate was as high as it has been for some time.

As I gasped for air using lungs that felt like I was a 5 pack a day smoker, the SufferCell time warp started happening. Only 3 minutes left. I pedaled harder for at least a minute. I looked up. 2:50 to go. What!! I was now a sloth in slow motion. My left knee was giving me grief. No, make that my right knee. 2:30 left, pedal. Actually, both knees were sending messages north to knock it off. And then I got cranky at the slow moving space time continuum and went harder.

I couldn’t work out why the beat of the already high paced music seemed all out of whack. Then it dawned on me. That was my pulse I could hear. 50 seconds left. Push you fat lazy bastard! I managed to throw everything at it and finally that lovely sound that means you can ease off poured like a burst of ear candy from the speakers and I was done. Cooked. Wasted. Shagged. Rooted. Knackered. You name it, I was it.

I looked at the screen through eyes stinging from sweat. 3 minutes of recovery before I could get off this damned bike.

3 minutes of trying to convince my blood pumper to stay in my chest. 3 minutes before TrainerRoad spat out my new FTP number. 3 minutes to wonder why?

I knew it wasn’t going to be an improvement on 267W from the last test. I was hoping for it to be over 200W. Pop!

235W FTP according to the test. I felt nothing. I was too damned tired to care. I wrapped the towel around my head and got off the bike. Well, I tried to get off the bike. That bloody octopus had dropped the anchor onto my shoe. I couldn’t lift my leg over the top tube. Three attempts before I was clear of the bike and sitting in a pool of my own sweat on the floor with a dog licking my arm.

So another SufferFest video is complete.

It is a lot different to the other ones I have done, in that you sort of know what is going to happen. Does that make it less effective? I don’t think so. As a test, it is a great tool to give you a number. If you don’t have a power meter or virtual power as I do, it takes you through the best method to record your numbers and calculate them at the end using either power or heart rate. I think it is a terrific tool, despite the pain.

You can click the images below for a better view of them.

Thanks once again to Cell Bikes and The Sufferfest for the trainer and videos.

I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

Thanks for reading.

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4 Responses to A Sufferlandrian Health Check. Ouch!

  1. bvduck says:

    Hey Norbs! Thanks for that review. Love the ‘octopus on Mt. Everest with an anchor for a hat’ line…I’ve felt like that many times myself! Sounds like your enthusiasm (and TR’s suggestions) got the best of you – try the test again in a few weeks, but take it easier in the warm-up and do the fast-spins with easy resistance. We want you hitting that 20minute FTP test hungry to destroy yourself. – David McQuillen, The Sufferfest

  2. David Mackie says:

    Great review once again Norbs. I need to get my trainer back off my mate and have a crack.

    Question for David. I have a LeMond revolution with no power meter. Can this test still measure FTP?

    • norbs says:

      Dave, the LeMond Revolution is on the list at TrainerRoad.http://www.trainerroad.com/virtual-power
      You need TrainerRoad for the Virtual Power stuff.

    • bvduck says:

      Hey David – Yes, you can still do the test without power. As Norbs says you can use TR’s virtual power. Or you can also use heart rate if you’ve got a heart rate monitor. The video has instructions for doing both power and HR based tests and a worksheet to map your final threshold number to the various power/heart rate zones.

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