I pride myself, often foolishly, on the fact that I will ride in almost any weather. Pretty much only icy roads and gail force winds will keep me inside. Though, a few days ago, despite sunny skies and unseasonably warm weather, I rode my trainer. The irony being, the conditions awaiting me inside promised to be brutal.
The good people at The Sufferfest sent me a pre-release of their newest project, “Wretched.” A glutton for punishment and one of the odd individuals that likes to hurt a bit when on a long ride, I’m no stranger to The Sufferfest. These videos are the only I’ve found that keep my attention and put me through the wringer while on the trainer. Getting back on the road in the springtime is a dream, having spent the winter being motivated (bullied and harassed) by great compilations of footage from the Pro Tour and Spring Classics.This newest video came to me, simply enough, with the sign off “Gooooooooood luck!” Oh no.
In a word, “Wretched” is amazing. No, brutal. Wait, the word I was looking for is inspiring. No, I was spot on with brutal. Attacks come right from the start. (You may feel as though you’re warmed up after the opening drum solo, but that’s just a tease. Great drumming, but you’re still going to hurt.) With footage from the motos along a stage of le Tour, you get the feel as if you’re actually in the peloton. And the pros don’t care if you’re hurting. They want you to hurt. Attacks, climbs, sprints – oh – and there’s that one sprint that comes while you’re out of the saddle on a wicked climb. That sucked. And was awesome. Brutal.
So, right now, you’re thinking “You’re alone on your trainer. No one is riding alongside you. Why push so hard?” Because I can. Because I want to. Because, these videos are visually stunning and the sporting taunts are so well timed, I’m pretty convinced there actually is someone in my computer, looking out at me and laughing at my pain. Somehow, all the way from their editing suite in Singapore, someone at The Sufferfest headquarters will know if I’m slacking.
To keep things interesting, the videos are not simply spliced footage, providing eye candy to help pass the time. With each new release, The Sufferfest has continued to up their game, fine tuning a variety of on-screen graphics which accompany the footage. Cadence markers, time checks and recommended levels of exertion (the Suffer Scale). And that damn 5 second countdown that occasionally appears in the upper left of the screen. It comes without warning and you never know what’s to happen when it reaches zero. Occasionally (rarely), it’s like the timer on a oven full of fresh baked cookies. When the buzzer goes off, feel free to sit up, grab a drink and catch your breath. But more often than not, it’s like the countdown on a time bomb. When that timer hits zero, you’d better be ready to sprint. There’s one more surprise towards the end – the appearance of a rider whose very presence will give rise to both fear and admiration, causing you to turn the pedals like never before. I won’t tell you who it is, but you had better packed plenty of courage before you hit play.
For those of the photo/video/production world that are reading along – these videos will incite a bit of jealousy. The Sufferfest has the rare opportunity to work with some of the finest licensed footage from pro races around the globe. Logging and review must be like Christmas morning in their studio. A nod to David for finely distilling so much footage to some of the most beautiful stretches and decisive moments of the best racing over the past few years. The videos are as much documentary as they are workout.
Wretched will be unleashed upon the world on December 8th. That gives you a week to start training. Training for a training video? Yes – you do not want to go into this one cold. Brutal. Look for it and all the other Sufferfest videos at thesufferfest.com.