Forget that title, you never go to Sufferlandria for a holiday. It is a working holiday if anything. Before I got to the land of Suffer, my legs are like steel springs. When I leave they have the strength of a politician’s promise.
So on Sunday afternoon, I had been working in the yard and thought it was a good time to hit the trainer. The wind would have blown a dog off it’s chain, so riding outdoors would not have been that much more pleasant than the trainer. It had been a while since my last visit to Sufferlandria, so I grabbed my water bottles and a couple of gels and mounted the trainer.
This quote is from the Sufferfest website.
A wise man once said, ‘There is No Try. There is only Do. Or do not.’
Yes, this time I was going to have a go at “There is no try”. I had had a go at it way back in May, but had suffered cramps about 15 minutes in. I wasn’t going to fail twice, I hoped.
So I fire up the video, and there is old mate from the Tour de France, ringing his bell and looking into your soul.
You are then told in no uncertain terms, just what this work out means.
You know right away, this is going to be hard work. There usual scrolling of screens of text to get you warmed up, warned and felling inadequate. Then the next 55 minutes is laid out in front of you.
I get a little bit of sick in the back of my throat. Muscle memory forces my calves to tighten up. Cramps this early on? Please no. I take a huge swig of Gatorade. The next text frame appears.
Because I have the mind of a 6 year old, when ever I see minions, I think…
… and it makes it easier in my head. I love those little yellow bastards.
Just to drive home the point…
… that you will be made to suffer. You have that to think about during the rest of the warm up before the brown hits the fan.
There are the normal sneaky attacks off the front that you are asked to reel in. Just some little challenges to get the heart rate up.
After that, things settle down before you hit the first set of intervals. It is always a slightly nervous moment.
What sort of sick person ever says yes to that?
Away I go. Heart rate slowly climbing. First 15 seconds done, up the tempo. Oh, I see, I am one of those sick people. 30 seconds, harder again. Heart rate heading upwards at an alarming rate. 45 seconds, push harder. Legs starting to protest. Beep. First 60 seconds is done. A frenzied minute of spinning legs and hunting for gears.
The first chance for a relax. I was analysing the graph on TrainerRoad when the gun went off for the second effort. Hey! That wasn’t 60 seconds of rest. No time to argue, the legs are off before the brain even realises. 30 second intervals at slightly less intensity, but it is hurting all the same. I am back in the Sufferlandrian time vortex.
There are two measurements of time in Sufferlandria. Neither of them are equal to the normal world. During an effort, a Sufferlandrian second is about 5 normal seconds. During the recovery, 5 Sufferlandrian seconds is roughly one real life second.
I am cranking out reasonable power for the second interval. Staying in front of the number TrainerRoad is suggesting. The 2 minutes of effort stops and I am reaching for the Gatorade and changing the fan from “Gentle breeze” to the “Strong gusts” setting. I no sooner get the soothing red liquid into my mouth and the gun goes off for interval number three.
45 seconds efforts that increase as you go. I manage to stay in front of the power numbers asked of me. I am struggling though. Towards the end of this 3 minutes interval, you are given this instruction on the screen…
… and for fear of pissing off the minions, I give it a red hot go. Power is up around the 550W mark when I hear the beep to tell me to ease off. I am sucking in the big ones. My heart is beating out of my chest. Now is the time for a sugar hit. I grab a choc-mint gel and squeeze it into my mouth. Knowing I don’t have long, I grab a huge mouthful of water and at nearly the same time cough. Oh no. I managed to get my hand over my mouth, creating a solid seal. That way out is blocked, so the cough, along with the water and gel, heads out via the alternate exit, my nose. (Check the TrainerRoad graph below. You can see the drop off after interval #3 where I am struggling to pedal, cough, drink and compose myself)
Lets just say the next 40 seconds were interesting. The upside, I had a lovely chocolately minty smell for the rest of the work out.
No time to wipe the monitor or keyboard clean, the next interval was upon me. 4 efforts of 1 minute increasing as we went. My legs were starting to sting. It was no longer a muscle ache, muscle migraine was now the order of the day. My legs were now like spaghetti that was well passed al dente. I struggled on knowing it was the last of the nasty efforts.
With those four minutes of hell behind me, there was a lovely 90 second recovery before the 8 minute time trial. I managed to blow my nose and do a bit of a tidy up before the 8 minutes that starts out demanding power just beow your FTP and slowly increases until it is just above your FTP.
There is nothing positive to say about this 8 minutes. Ok, maybe the music helps. It is 8 minutes you will never get back. Due to the Sufferfest time vortex, it fells a bit like one of those weddings you have to go to, but you would rather be at home sliding pieces of bamboo under your own finger nails. The fact that most of the time Captain Sideburns is on your screen doesn’t help. This really is suffering.
Finally, the 8 minutes has finished and there is a brief respite before you go back into the last 4 intervals. They are in the reverse order this time. The 4 minutes lower intensity set comes first and you finish off with the 4 x 15 seconds interval from hell.
I was suffering quite a bit through these intervals. The blood pump was sending messages to the grey muscle to knock it off. A was putting out big numbers compared to what TrainerRoad was asking at the end.
I was making the Tommy Voeckler pain face, eyes like water melons pooping out of my skull. I think at the end I may have even had the Ten Dam froth happening. It was done!
I had indeed. Like a 40 year old man raised on thrash metal at a Justin Beiber concert with his son! Although, because I had completed “There is no try”, I was punching the air. Well, I wanted to. In reality I was slumped over the bars trying to catch my breath that seemed to be running away from me.
But wait, there is more. And not in the form of the usual sly sprint at the end. Suffering of a different kind.
He of the Kimmage Fund fame, on my screen. Oh the humanity!
So it was finished. I climbed off the trainer, swearing to never go near it again. Well, til the next time.