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!)

Saturday, 3 December 2011

The 2K

This is a post that I'm surprised I've not written waaaaaaaay before now. (I've also carried round the draft for it in my bag for three weeks, but that's just my incompetence).

2000m. On an ergo. As fast as you can.

Sounds simple. It is. It is also torture. It is sort of hard to describe to people who have never done one, so I won't try. (Most of my readers I assume are boaties though => will have done a 2K before).

Anyway, this is what goes through my head while in the throes of a 2K ergo. I have done enough of them now that I pretty much always shout the same shit at myself, so this is a really quite accurate representation.


So, your entire day has been ruined by the fact you have to do a 2K at the end of it but you've finally arrived at your place of 2K-age. The ergs are all lined up and mocking you. Bastards. I usually at this point decide to be an antisocial bastard and plug into my mp3 player and put it on LOUD. This was my song of choice. EPIC. (I challenge you to put this through some headphones really loud and not feel like a complete hero afterwards).

So I listened to this in a completely immersive can-hear-nothing-else sort of way for a good old while until I felt like Thor and in a mood to completely smash that ergo in the face. 

So yes, there I was in Goldie with trance leaking out from my headphones, essentially looking like a complete pillock. Bothered? Nope!

The whole 'feeling like a Norse God' thing was a little ruined by my glutes exploding with pain when I sat on the ergo. I can honestly say I have never been so ruined before starting a 2K. It was a little upsetting to be honest, when the act of simply sitting on an ergo made me whimper a bit.

But it was OK. I then made The Choice. I can summarise The Choice thus:

This has also been nicely put in another blog I read as "Choosing the Wrench". To the uninitiated it's rather acronym-y: blog writer is does CrossFit which to my knowledge is a US thing (I've certainly not heard of it over here, but them I not exactly moving in the right circles to hear about it) and WOD = workout of the day. However, I think the "because fuck you, that's why" approach is appropriate here.

What you do at 800m to go when the shit really hits the fan is a choice. You can stop or pull less hard and make the pain go away or you can fucking push harder and not let the erg get the better of you. You have to go to that place because you expect it of the crew around you and they expect it of you. If you have any self respect you expect if of yourself. 800m to go is like standing on the edge of an abyss which you must either throw yourself into, pain be damned, or turn and run away from. It is a primeval choice - fight or flight. And you must choose.

So then, everyone has warmed up and a deathly silence falls. You wait. You come to front stops and there is silence.

It seems like an eternity.

Then someone says 'go' and all hell breaks loose.

The first 15 strokes you feel like a god. It just feels so easy.

If you are not a badgering retard you will quickly settle away from r50 ridiculouso splits. I do this by swearing at myself. (You will see that this is a common theme).

The first K I usually fine passes without much thought. It certainly passes much faster than the second... It should in general feel "alright" (if it doesn't I tell myself that it does)  - not comfortable "alright", but not balls-to-the-line yet. You hold your split. You get the 1 min barrier thing when the aerobic system kicks in but you know that is nothing.

The K passes. Shit gets real.

The mental battle begins.

I truely believe that a 2K test is made or broken by what you do with 800-500m to go. If you fuck up this, there is no return and you'll fuck up the entire test.

My sprint begins at 650m to go. The hammer falls.


At this point I regret starting the sprint earlier. But 500m is nothing, right? Right?

The last 500m lasts FOREVER.

You are by now in a very strange place where nothing in the world matters but the split on the screen, the number of metres left to go and how fucking fast you can do it.

Kitchen sink is thrown at ergo. You have to do it stroke by bastarding stroke but you do it.

The is no pain, no surroundings, no anything but those decreasing numbers. You throw yourself into the abyss.


The metres fall to zero and there is nothing but pain.

I fucking hate the way it hurts the most just after you finish. Those 10 seconds after finishing a 2K are really quite something. Everything in your body is screaming at you but you feel so alive. The knowledge that you have truly ruined yourself while you lie immovable on the floor, or slumped in your footwell at the end of a race trying to breathe. It is living. It is why we row.

Till next time, ergo. Till next time.