Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Anna Railton vs. The Sufferfest

As anyone who as ever sat on a turbo trainer/watt bike knows, training on a stationary bike is BADGERING BORING. You'd have thought that it would be comparable to any other sort of stationary exercise machine,  but no. There is a special kind of tedious hell reserved for sessions on a turbo.

Time just does not budge. I will happily spend a couple of hours in a boat or four hours cycling round the places trying not to be killed by traffic and swearing at stuff but heck. An hour on a stationary bike? Noooo thank you.

With Christmas training needing to be done (and a lack of ergo => turbo training) I took the plunge and purchased The Sufferfest videos. Not just one, mind you. All nine of them (which was probably overkill, but hey). They were recommended to me by a friend in Austrailia (hi Lindsay!) who was feed up of getting mowed down by the traffic out there but still wanted to keep cycling. 

Therefore on Christmas Eve I attached my Dad's bike to the turbo attachment thingy (avec much swearing), but on some bib shorts and some festive socks and downloaded "A Very Dark Place". 
Bib shorts are sexy. FACT.
I sat on the bike, trepidation in my heart. 


I can't hear their soundtrack! HOW WILL I COPE?

Well, you will be pleased to know that Trance Nation (The Collection) came to the rescue. 

With my mp3 player cranking out some serious volume (and serious tunage) and safely nestled in my sports bra (a decision I would later regret) I was set. Bring it the fuck on Sufferfest. The plan?

The warm up. I quite enjoyed some vague perving on the en-lycraed arses cycling ahead in front of me. Mmmmm quad definition. However, all thoughts of cyclist's arse-quality rapidly went out the window when the work began. A couple of balls-to-the-line quick sprints and the intervals started. 

Turns out four minutes is A FUCKING LONG TIME. 

Three minutes into the first one and I was looking over my shoulder for the finish line.

And they kept coming! Relentless bastards! By the third/fourth (?) one I didn't know which interval I was on or where the fuck I was.

They tell you how hard to go with simple scores out of 10. My favourite instruction that was bellowed (well caps lock shouted) at me from the laptop was this:

Brilliant, just brilliant. These people understand suffering. 

There were points when there was a very real risk that I was going to revisit the ploughman's I had for lunch a mere five hours before. And still Fabian Cancellara attacked and I had to chase him down. What an utter bastard. He was definitely going down. Me and my thirty year old orange bike of awesome WERE GOING TO TAKE THAT FUCKER DOWN.  

So much fun. I was pleased when it was over though. 

Putting my mp3 player down my sports bra did turn out to be an bit of an error with it's little protective mp3 player sock utterly saturated. Very nearly lost the poor thing to my sweat :-/ 

Once I had learnt how walk again I proudly pointed out the HUGE puddle of sweat I had produced on the floor to my bemused parents. They weren't as happy about it as I was and directed me to the mop. 

Now I don't particularly like plugging stuff on here but these guys deserve it. If you ever spend any time turboing you should buy some/all of these videos. They are well thought out, have great bits of masochistic humour thrown in and are FULL OF SUFFERING. These guys try and drop you and you crucify yourself to go with them. You just don't get that sort of intensity (and perverse enjoyment) from staring at a wall for 90 minutes. Honestly, BUY THIS STUFF. You will not be disappointed. 

So apart from the discovery of the awesomeness of The Sufferfest Christmas has passed without incident. Toblerones were inhaled and sarcasitic commentary was provided to rubbishy family films.

Exciting Christmas presents included orange panniers (ORANGE! :D) and a saddlebag with which to go exploring the British countryside by velocipede.

I also got not one but two identical biographies of Tom Simpson, not that I'm difficult to buy for or anything...

The Christmas holidays also means the annual using-public-gyms-to-train-in. This has lead to me do a disproportionate amount of military press style weights because every commercial gym ever randomly has a machine dedicated to this.


I would also like to take the time to have a massive rant about why gyms don't find it necessary to let any cool air at all into their establishments. It's also like they thought "I know, let's but all the rowing machines in a tiny airless box and watch everyone die of heat exhaustion while using them! That'd be great fun!"

I mean, SERIOUSLY, it's below freezing outside - why the badgering hell is it over 20 degrees in here? Sure, I guess your average person doesn't sweat that much after walking on a treadmill for 10mins (has anyone else noticed this? The logic of paying expensive gym fees just to walk on a machine for a trivial amount of time has clearly passed me by.), but I am dying of heat exhaustion 2K into a UT2 ergo - WTF guys?!? Sort it the fuck out!

But hey, I got my own back my mentally scarring the occupants of one gym I used by erging in bibshorts. And a sports bra. And nothing else :-/

I mean, I didn't mean to. Sure, I probably shouldn't have forgotten my unisuits when coming home for Christmas, and I probably should have kept my t-shirt on. But it was HOT. Really bloody hot. It's their fault really.

 Finally, my housemates and I were a little bored before we went our separate ways for Christmas and made our house-duck do a 2K. We're a cruel lot.

**WARNING contains graphic images some may find disturbing**

Pre-2K dairy loading (??)

Casual turbo warm up

Oh nooooo

It begins!



It is important to recover properly after a 75min 2K!
After such frivlolity, I would like to set you a very sensible and mature challenge (as suggest by Janet in a comment somewhere): The Infinite Duck Project.

Can you make Gordon just one pixel big via a long chain of ducks looking at pictures of ducks? Can you? Ay? AY?

Here is the higher res version of the above. Do your worst! (I will keep posting the next installment underneath so we can achieve infinite duck glory).

With that, I bid you good night! (And don't forget about The Sufferfest!)


  1. Bib shorts and a sports bra is the in look for 2012.....

  2. Completely agree re. public gyms.
    And it's just plain weird using ergs in public gyms to do anything even vaguely hard when surrounded by lots of people in tracksuits barely exercising. It's hard not to feel that by breathing hard, you're doing something faintly inappropriate.


  3. Frankie, I think you may be right...

    Alex: It is an odd state of affairs when you are judged for sweating in a place where the whole point is that you do some bloody exercise.

    I think if you want to fit in, you have to do no more than 5 mins on any machine and not perspire at all.

  4. But since when do people take up rowing out of a desire to fit in?
    (unless they come from a family of rowers, at which point, they're probably too mental to care)


  5. My brother refuses to be seen in the gym with me at home. He is embarrassed that I wear my all in one and sports bra and that I actually sweat. He knows that gyms are for standing near the weights and gossiping.
    How many times am I allowed to enter the infinite duck competition? My mum has an entire collection of duck figures- seven ducks and one goose at last count.

  6. Alex: Good point :D

    Minty Medic: you may enter as many times as you like :-)

  7. That has to be the single greatest review ever of the 'fest. Loved it. Loved it. More pictures of suffering would have been better, of course. ; - )
    IWBMATTKYT, David McQuillen, The Sufferfest

  8. Which Tom Simpson biog? "Put me back on my bike" I hope :-)

    Ergs in public gyms - always, always wrecked by having only ever been used quarter slide rating 50.

  9. Bleeding eyeballs is definitely showing commitment!

    Have you been watching World's Strongest Man? One of them got a nosebleed during the squats last night. What a guy.

  10. Well great. Now I'm thinking about recursive ducks.

  11. Great post. Noticed the large quantity of muller yoghurt so be aware that Morrisons are currently offering 10 pots for £2. Enough to quite literally fill ones boots.

  12. @David: YAY SUFFERING.
    @Steve: Yes, of course. Read c. half now and have uber respect for the mentalness of the guy.
    @Tom: I missed the nose bleed moment, very upsetting indeed. Should probably make "get a nosebleed during training" one of my new year's resolutions...
    @B: YAY DUCKS :D
    @Ormo: Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm :-)

  13. Anna please write some more posts. I have been temporarily seconded abroad to places with minimal rowing (apparently mountain snow- and thunderstorms make Lake Geneva not good for non-coastal rowing in the winter) and I would like a fix of rowing-related humour.

  14. Dear Anonymous,

    I hope the most current offering of random is enough to satisfy your rowing-related humour needs :-)

  15. Wooo! Sufferfesting! :-D And, WOOOOO! I got a mention in your blog!!!

    ... have you done them all yet? Try Revolver x2, with only the time it takes to unclip and rewind back to the first interval without drowning laptop in sweat/ breaking leg by slipping in sweat on cleats in between... 'tis masochistic in the extreme :>

    Evan bought a C2 :) Now I have 2 options for covering the kitchen floor in sweat without any disgusted looks from the fluffy gym bunnies!! (working pretty hard, but also it's about 29C indoors and I'm too pissed off with Australia's addiction to coal fired powerplants to turn the A/C on)

    ...Was thinking Sufferfests with a rowing theme would be good, but then realised that rowing's just too... well... boring... at least compared to criterions, breakaways, cyclocross, velodromes, Paris-Roubaix, the Alps, and CANCELLARA'S LEGS :D :D :D :D :D

    1. I have done every single sufferfest video now EXCEPT Revolver... Just... FEAR. And are you seriously implying you do 90mins of 1 min intervals? INSANITY WOLF.

      I also enjoy perving at Cancellara's legs :-)

  16. Training for the crash-b's at the gym doing 6x500m40s rest was brutal... the only satisfaction was looks from the people walking on the treadmills that were wondering whether to call security on that sweaty man on the rowing machine.

  17. Anna,
    I can think of few sports that can truly appreciate Sufferfest videos, but rowing is certainly one of them. And you started with what I think is the hardest one. I hope your training goes well, and you "enjoy" your suffering.

    1. Yep, I done all of them now and A Very Dark Place is still my favourite. Utter brutality, that one :D

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