Sportive Diary – The Sufferfest


I should be old enough to know better, but as I’ve not learnt yet I think its safe to say I probably never will.

I’m currently training for a number of one day cycling events (see previous blog). Some of them are a short 100 miles and others are longer…a lot longer.

For me they’re not the sort of ride I could hop on my bike and expect my legs to push the peddles for half a dozen hours. I know this as I’ve tried it…a few times, and its messy. I once spent 15 minutes trying to uncurl my fingers under a public toilet hand drier whilst I danced the dance of a man with a desperately full bladder. Not quite as bad as coming across a man in a full panda suit in a toilet with his zipper stuck fast in his fur…the zipper was running down his back…and it was the Edinburgh Fringe Festival…his dance was in a totally different league to mine

So I train and to help me I have a training schedule that I’m haunted by. And it shouts at me VERY LOUD and very often. And my body shouts, and screams, and cries in return, and its still…messy

This part of the diary is called ‘Sufferfest’ (If you are familiar with this concept you can skip this part of the diary). If you are innocent, please be warned there are things coming up that may offend.

OK. If you are still reading lets start with a warm up. Not sure if we have everyone in the peloton yet so we will start slow.

Training your body to have a big fat tap.

When you cycle long distances your body releases and then burns up sugars and fats. Once released the blood distributes it to the muscles that push the peddles to make the wheels go round. More fuel more energy more speed and or distance covered. No one should be breathless yet. There are two main energy sources as said, sugars and fats, each can be thought of as being held in a reservoir with a tap through which the sugar or fat id released or runs. The sugar reservoir is small but has a massive tap, and the fat reservoir is huge but it has a tiny tap. What this means is that when you burn sugar you can burn it fast but it soon runs out. Good for sprinting but it won’t take you a long way. When it comes to burning fat though there’s a huge energy source you can use, but you have to go slow…very slow because the taps so small.  If you can fool your body into changing the size of your fat tap then its a case of job done…sort of…

We should all be moving together now in the peloton.

That’s one aspect of the sufferfest. The other is just to get your body familiar with pain I think.

What you do is you get one of these…

And these…

And you connect them, and do this…

Whilst you imagine you are doing this…

But really you look like this….if your lucky

Usually to very loud music, which some people think is to motivate, but I suspect is to drown out the groans and bad language.

Technical stuff: Sufferfest sessions are usually 60 minutes in duration at our ‘club’. There are four parts to it 1. warm up – 5 minutes, 2. Performance – 20 minutes, 3. endurance –  30 minutes 4. warm down and recovery – 5 minutes. The amount of effort you put in is conveniently defined by a scale of 1 to 10. 1-5 being easy I could do this all day, 6-7 being slightly harder, 8 being threshold as in I could manage to keep this up for 2 hours or so, 9 is it hurts after two minutes  and 10 being pain and suffering after 15 seconds. The likes of Bradley Wiggins can keep level 10 up for 10 minutes so they say.

Performance. This part is called “SPRINT!!!!!”  which usually lasts for 15 seconds followed by 45 seconds recovery. This is repeated 10 times then you are allowed a whole one and a half minutes recovery until you do another 8. The idea is that you cycle at a suffer level of 10/10 and get your heart rate up into and above zone 4  Lets just say that this is just slightly the right side of having a strong urge to deposit your last meal on your front wheel whilst your legs scream at you to stop. To do this you are required to get in a high gear and push those peddles round at over 100 revolutions per minute (referred to cadence). This bits supposed to get your legs used to the build up of lactic acid.

Endurance. This is all about pushing high gears and high resistance. This part usually lasts for 2 & 1/2 minutes on and 2 & 1/2 off. Repeat 6 times. Suffer level 8/10. Zone 4. Cadence 75rpm. This bits supposed to grow your fat tap and build you stamina

Humm eyes glazed over yet or just out?

So, you do that twice a week and cycle long distance at the weekend, and you get legs like this…

Sufferfest tomorrow at 7pm if your interested, and an 80 mile ride on Sunday so long as there’s no  snow…see you there?

Oh yeah almost forgot. Even though you are cycling in doors and in relative safety there are one or two hazards

  • Not attaching your wheel correctly to the turbo trainer. Result is that you set off  into the guy in front like a drag car, or the wall.
  • Cramp.
  • Nose bleeds
  • Fainting
  • Heart attack
  • Hypoglycaemia
  • Priapism…honestly this is far worse than any of the above. there’s two types; Low pressure, which is painful, and high pressure. OK by now you have probably gone off and googled what priapism is. This is definitely one situation you don’t want to be in. Lycra and a hard on don’t look good in a school gym full of fellow cyclists and if you can explain that away with the girl finishing her ride by your side then I want to know how…er just in case


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