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Tour of Sufferlandria progress report

About a month ago I started using Trainer Road. Basically, it links the speed and cadence sensor on my bike to a computer app that then transform these readings into power, the holy grail of bike metrics measurements. It’s not 100% accurate, but it’s constant and can help me guide my bike training and progress. So far, I really like the service. You can load up training sessions on the computer and follow them real time on your bike. I’m aware that there are free alternatives, but I like the variety of training, the instructions given during the workout and I already feel that I progressed and learned a lot in a month.

I found out about Trainer Road while browsing Reddit /r/triathlon – there was a thread about not getting bored on the bike trainer. One other suggestion was Sufferfest. They offer really hard workout videos. It was tempting, but I preferred to start with the basic. Sufferfest workouts are also available on Trainer Road – without the video (basically, the graphic telling you how fast / slow to pedal).

Two weeks ago, I get an email: Join the Tour of Sufferlandria, through Trainer Road. The idea is to complete 9 consecutive days of Sufferfest workouts (with or without videos), through Trainer Road. A charity donation is required to enter. A very large pool of prizes is the incentive. The prizes are divided in two: one pool for everyone who donated, and one pool for those who managed to finish the whole thing.

The event started on Saturday January 25, but they offer a 50h window to complete the workout – with my timezone, I could start as early as Friday at 5am. I thought it might be a good thing to keep things 1 day early, in case I need to take a rest day somewhere in there.

Here’s my recap through four days:

Day one: Rubber Glove

First segment was fairly easy – it was a fitness evaluation workout, and it would churn my FTP value in the end (basically the max power I can sustain for an hour). I would then enter that value in the software for it to calculate my baseline for future workouts. The workout itself is based on my current FTP, and I haven’t read about those FTP evaluation workouts, but I think they are built so that if you can follow the hills and valleys as prescribed, you do get a small raise in your current FTP. In any case, I did get the result to raise my FTP by about 5%. Now the decision: I can keep my old result and do the event, or raise the bar 5% and suffer 5% more. I chose the later. No pain no gain, right?

Day two: It Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time

This is the workout I dreaded. A 2h endurance workout. With suffering, and with that awful lemonade sports drink I decided to taste at the same time. I got the video for that one – I figured, for 2h, it might make things more bearable. It turned out to be quite enjoyable, and not that hard. Basically, the video sets you up in a race with 3 climbs to do. There’s humor, enough changes in pace to keep you occupied and it’s not overly taxing, just long.

Day three: Revolver

revolver

This is what it looks like on my computer. Blue is target, yellow line is my actual effort. Now… This one was tough. It was quite short (45min), 1min power bursts with 1min rest in between. Sixteen times, with too short a warm-up (in my opinion). I was really counting how many bursts were left. Not to mention that my water bottle went flying at some point and then later on my chain slipped. Before Revolver, I was still thinking I was going to keep running like normal (more or less) during the week. I realized after Revolver, this might not be a good idea, best keep energy for these bike workouts… Still, overall, it wasn’t that bad – a very good workout.

Day four: Hell Hath No Fury

The curve of this one looked tamer than Revolver. How wrong could I be. Painful max effort with sprints here and there. Now this was suffering. Up to today, I felt like the only suffering would be to fit these workouts in my schedule, especially day 7 and 8 which are slightly longer and fall on Thursday (swim lessons) and Friday (TGIF!). This is where I think I’ll play with the 50h window. But now I’m studying these curves carefully to anticipate pain…

With that being said, there are 2406 riders registered. With day one and day two officially completed, 740 have already dropped out.

There will be bragging rights if I get to finish this… To be continued!

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