Tag Archives: The Sufferfest

Rites of Passage

I am still very much a novice cyclist.  Each time I get on a bike there’s a significant chance that something will happen that I haven’t experienced before.  Obviously I try to be as prepared for any eventuality as possible, but inevitably surprises will occur!

Last week I took a big step forward on a couple of fronts…

Firstly, I decided to take a Fitness test.  I know I have made huge improvements in my strength and fitness since I started cycling in July last year (See “Try something new“).  I did start from a ridiculously low level though… I’d just had a Heart Attack after all!

Until now I’ve had no basis for measuring my improvement.  In fact, other than judging by how I feel I haven’t had any way of measuring how I have performed in any of my training sessions.  So, the Fitness test… The Sufferfest’s “Rubber Glove“.

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I have learned that in cycling a key measure is one’s Functional Threshold Power (FTP).  This is a measure of how much power you can generate over a period of time – how hard you can pedal for 20 minutes in this case.

Having built myself up to doing the test, I was side-swiped by learning experience number two…

At some point during the warm-up I developed a puncture.  It took me a few minutes to work out what had happened.  The first indication was that my back wheel slipped on the Turbo Trainer when I tried to put the power down.  Having cleaned and adjusted the Turbo Trainer (in vain), I touched the wheel… the tyre was flat as a pancake.  Fitness test failed!  Game over!

I’m not sure about the professionals, but in the amateur scene, real cyclists also seem to be mechanics.  They all appear to have bike workshops and are never happier than when tinkering… an adjustment here, a tweak there.  I am not one of those people!

Since I bought my bikes my maintenance regime has involved the occasional application of oil to the chain.

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!” 

Unfortunately it was now broke!

With some trepidation, I set to work,..  In less than two hours I managed to replace the tyre and the inner tube, locating the puncture in the process.  The procedure was stressful, messy and more than a little chaotic, but I got it done (eventually)!


My high-tech FTP data recording system

The following evening (after a good night’s sleep) I completed the fitness test.  I now have an official FTP.  It’s strange, but I feel somehow closer to my bike too.

I feel like I’m slowly growing up!

A Treacherous Journey

So, Christmas finally arrived for me this morning!

The day started with the ceremonial collection of my new bikes.  This wasn’t without anxiety!  The collection itself was incident free and relatively swift.  However the trip home relied on the stability and strength of a new Cycle Rack (for the car), ably fitted by myself, and was therefore fraught with danger!

As it turned out, the trip was fine.  No structural failures.  No shed loads.  Not even any audible rattles.  Success!  I felt particularly sporty, and a smidgen of pride, as I paraded my new bikes through town on my way home.

Cycle Rack & Bikes

A very proud moment… home safely!

There then followed several hours of slightly inept mechanical “fiddling” as I made the final adjustments.

Bikes aren’t how I remember them.  They don’t have the knobs and levers I’m familiar with any more.  I had to refer to the internet a couple of times to work out how to work the gears (multi-purpose break levers, if you’re interested!).  One of the bikes has disc breaks – heaven only knows how they work!  I’m very relieved I took out some “free labour” cover for them for the 1st Year… I can see me using this extensively!

What I’ve also discovered is that it appears the more you pay for a bike, the less you get.  In some ways, the “less” is good (e.g. less weight), but in other ways, the “less” is bad (e.g. the more expensive bike required me to buy pedals separately).

Fortunately I didn’t spend too much, so it was just the pedals that needed to be added.  I can only dream of owning a bike that requires you to buy wheels, a seat and handlebars!

Bicycles have definitely advanced a bit!

I still haven’t managed to get outside on a bike yet, but it’s on the cards for tomorrow (weather permitting).  Ominously, it felt like autumn arrived in Aberdeen today.  I may have timed the bike purchase perfectly!

Still, with my bikes, the Turbo Trainer, and a Sufferfest video selection, I’m sure the winter will fly by!

Another minor milestone (FD +47)

I feel like I’m making real progress on the exercise front.  Some of it is down to exercising.  Some of it is down to understanding the kit and exercising better.

Although I’m still a complete novice, I feel like I’m in a position to provide some advice on cycling (at least cycling in my garage):

Cycling Lesson 1:  It hurts less if you have the right kit!

The shorts, gloves and shoes all made a substantial difference to last nights “ride”.  Why didn’t I think of it earlier!

Yesterday saw the introduction of another training aid too…

I got a tip from a guy at work to try out a Sufferfest video.  Specialising in Cycling Training Videos, they have the motto:

“I will beat my ass today to kick yours tomorrow”  (IWBMATTKYT for short)

They have a range of “entertaining” videos targeted at the stationary cyclist market.  They create training sessions where you follow / copy / compete with professional cyclists performing in competitions (World Championships, Tour De France, etc., listening to fast music, and following instructions “shouted” out via text on the computer screen.

It might sound strange, but the videos provide some useful pointers for the novice cyclist and also create a major distraction from the clock.  In my limited experience, the biggest challenge with inside cycling is clock watching.  Every minute seems to last forever!

For me the intention is clearly not to have a Sufferfest, in fact not to suffer at all!  That’s not really what my exercise is about right now.  For me I’m treating it more as a Recoverfest (Trade Mark pending!).

Irrespective of what the on-screen cyclist does, or the instructions I’m given, the Heart Monitor is the most critical piece of equipment for me.  Keeping below my 118 bpm threshold is essential.

In time, I’m looking forward to testing / pushing the boundaries, but I have to keep reminding myself that I’m still only in week 3 of Cardiac Rehabilitation. Much as it would be nice to kick Bradley Wiggins’ ass in a Time Trial (albeit virtual), my goal has to be to put in the miles, to get myself fit and strong, to lay the foundation for the future.

Anyway, the video worked for me.  I would highly recommend checking out The Sufferfest if you’ve not discovered them already.

Breaking news…

All the exercise and hard work has resulted in another minor milestone for me at Cardiac Rehabilitation today…

drum roll…

wait for it…

I was allowed to jog on the treadmill!!!

I’ve got another 5 weeks of Rehab to go.  I’m hoping I might be able to fly by the end of it!


Someone’s going to get hurt!