The first few weeks of spring this year had temperatures far below normal and more days of sleet and snow than we had all winter. The days the temperature made it into the 50s, it rained. I guess I could have taken the advice of a tee I saw at Interbike which said to Harden the Belgian Up, but I didn’t want to ride outside in that weather. Plus, the new bike is still too pretty to ride in those conditions.
However, with spring’s arrival, I was already past the point in the year that I could make excuses and stay inside. Recently, I and my teammate were provisionally accepted to race The 508 in October. The provisions? We each have to do a minimum of one 250 mile or longer sanctioned ride before August.
Luckily, not riding because of crap weather can be replaced by one of two new options from The Sufferfest; the totally new Blender, or a revamped and renewed version of one that has become a favorite of mine over this past winter – Revolver.
The Saturday after I got the email about The 508 was cold and rainy, but I still wanted to get in a long day in the saddle. I decided to do a double with Blender followed by Revolver. This definitely gave me more than enough of a workout and was easily as hard or harder than a 4+ hour ride on the road would have been.
Blender: This One’s Got It All
Blender is the longest offering ever from The Sufferfest. It is also the first collaboration with Coach Neal Henderson of the Boulder Institute for Sports Medicine. In terms of nothing new, the video quality of Blender is top-notch, the music perfectly matched, and the philosophy of building you up by beating you down still permeates.
Did I mention Blender is long? 1 hour, 44 minutes and 27 seconds long to be exact. Even though some intervals seem to never stop and you will be counting down the seconds by the end of the workout, you will be surprised at the total lack of boredom that can be achieved with a well-structured trainer workout such as this. Especially considering that you have spent nearly 2 hours on the trainer by the end.
You want to be sure you have an appetite for self-destruction (and some comfortable bibs) before starting Blender. Blender will soften you up, find your weakness and exploit it. Do you consider yourself good with explosive power but hate sustained intervals? You will hurt both early and late in this workout. Do you like putting your head down and settling into TT mode but hate short burst efforts? You’re in for a lot of agony. Do you feel good in the peloton or on breakaways at race-pace, but hate all out sprints? You’ll have plenty of reasons for an increased prejudice by time you finish. Is your name Jens Voigt? Well… you probably won’t get past the warm-up before overheating your trainer and popping a tire.
Blender is wonderful endurance work. The efforts don’t usually feel insanely difficult and it feels like you generally have power to spare, but by the end of the workout, you’re definitely tapping into reserves to get you through it. Plus, you get the added benefit of some quite effective endurance work in a lot less time than on the road by eliminating the usual interruptions of traffic, stop lights/signs, and terrain.
Even though Blender brings the pain and pours it on for a long time, it is quickly becoming one of my favorite Sufferfest vids and will definitely be a staple of my 508 training. Blender is designed to increase your endurance, but don’t expect any long, slow miles. The minions would flog you for such an insult.
Revolover 2013: A New Face on an Old Foe
After a brief break to refill my bottles, I jumped back on the bike to try out the revamped Revolver.
Before this past winter, Revolver was the ‘Fest that I dreaded (ok, hated) the most. The old-school Revolver is 49 minutes, most of which is 1 minute full-on, 1 minute rest intervals. It’s beyond brutal. But it also fits nicely into a lunch break which, when combined with an unusual-for-me wussitude for the cold, is why I have really began to appreciate it.
The new Revolver is about 45 minutes and keeps the same basic structure. It still grinds you into the ground then tells you to go harder. It still makes your legs and lungs scream. It still makes you swear time stands still during some of the intervals while wondering how one minute can last so long. It still gets you on and off the bike in less than an hour, yet leaves no doubt that you’ve got a proper workout in that short time.
It also keeps a similar soundtrack with a lot of the same songs and again uses track, ‘cross, and road racing footage; but overall it’s more polished and more mature. The video footage is new, crisp and clean. The on-screen instructions clearer. However, I must say I found myself somewhat missing the old. It felt like meeting an old college buddy years down the road. He’s now in a suit and wants to talk about his family while sipping a glass of wine. He’s still the same guy deep down, but you’d rather be with the version of him in shorts and a tee, hanging out at a dive bar, pounding PBRs, and checking out all the girls that come in.
Don’t get me wrong. I still love the new Revolver as much as one can love something that causes so much pain. I like that it is 4 minutes shorter, especially for lunchtime workouts. The on-screen prompts are greatly improved and much easier to see and understand.
Revolver should be a staple in any ‘Fest collection. No other Sufferfest is going to get you faster quicker. Or is it quicker faster? Faster faster? Quicker quicker? You’ll hate Mr. Sufferfest for what he’s doing to you during the workout, but you’ll love the results you get.
Overall, you really can’t go wrong with either of these videos, and I recommend you get both. You’d be fully covered whether you’re pressed for time and need the shortest Sufferfest workout there is, and you’d have the longest one they offer for days you’re just itching to spend an hour and forty-five minutes on the trainer. You don’t think you’ll ever get that itch? Try Blender once before concluding that.
These and all other Sufferfest videos are available for download from the Sufferfest site. They are large files so be prepared for long download times. You won’t find better indoor training videos at any price, but with the most expensive video still being just $13.99, you might even feel guilty you paid so little.
Oh, and if you’re curious to see what 2.5 hours of suffering on the rollers looks like in 60 seconds, take a look at the video below