To begin my journey into racing, I need to get better, a lot better. I was wondering how I was going to do that. I’ve been riding on my own for 2-3 years now. I’ve seen gradual improvements. I’ve gone from averaging 12 mph to 15 mph. Last year I began cycling with a beginning group and I able to hang at a pace of 16-17 mph. But to race, I feel the need for some coaching. An actual plan.

I found The Sufferfest. They produce video to watch while on your trainer. On screen prompts tell you how hard to ride, how long to keep that pace, and what your cadence should be. They also have training plans. And they are too expensive. 30 bucks. I can do 30 bucks.

I buy the 10 week novice plan and 3 of the required videos. Christmas week I begin the training plan. First up, calculate my FTP, Functional Threshold Power, how hard I can cycle for an hour. The workouts are based on your FTP. Each interval you need to work at a percentage of your FTP, 104%, now 115%, now 75%, etc.  Turns out it’s 152 and 1.62 w/kg. I’m not sure that’s not great. But hey everyone has to start somewhere right?

I love the videos. They really help pass the time on the trainer. They also sync up the Cycleops  Virtual Training app. I plug my ant+ dongle into the iPad and I can keep track of all my data; speed, cadence, heart rate, and power. The workouts are hard. I do suffer. But that’s really the point.

Eos Title Badge

One video I did buy that doesn’t go with the plan is called the Elements of Style. I wasn’t going to buy it at first. I thought it might be able what to wear, how to look on a bike. But it turns out to be a very informative challenging workout. The first half of the workout is about how to pedal effectively. I’ve had an understanding of what a  good pedal stroke is, pedaling in circles not square, but this video really helps me visualize it.

The other concept this video introduced to me was the idea of a systems check. It’s a list that you go through mentally to make sure you form is good. Is my back straight, shoulders down, hands loose, core tight, etc. This has been really great. I have noticed that as I get more tired, my shoulder ride up into my ears and I hunch over and arch my back. Then I run thought the check list and get back into the proper form so that all my power goes into my pedal stroke.

So far I’ve been really happy with the plan. The one thing i don’t like about The Sufferfest is the logo, but that’s just my graphic side coming out. The branding seems to border on the Crossfit cult. But where Crossfit is serious about their suffering, The Sufferfest seems to be doing in more tongue and cheek with a wink. The whole idea that there is a land called Sufferlandria where exercise has been outlawed is just fun. We’ll have to see if the videos get old on the forth or fifth time I watch them, but right now, I’m enjoying it.