Review: The Sufferfest’s Downward Spiral 2015
(2015) In case one was wondering, I reread my own writing incessantly. Since there’s no editor for creakybottombracket, I rely on my English major background to refine each writing project. Sometimes pictures will appear as if out of nowhere on stories. Other times the word count will change.
Editing makes all the difference. Many times I have read what appears to be a well-written article only to see flagrant typos. For me, this turns me off to an article and – if it happens a couple more times – the publication itself. I strive to avoid these pitfalls in writing, but again, no editor. I’m presently rereading this for errors (again).
Perhaps it was this progressive approach that The Sufferfest released an old video in a new format. The new format produces new footage, which means a new story line. The Spring Classics, one of the best seasons of the sporting world are featured in both Downward Spirals.
I bought the first Downward Spiral in late 2009 to occupy the awful experience of riding in-of-doors. I would put my rollers in the living room of the apartment and caused a rumble over the law office that occupied the space below. The slightly off-kilter floors made me feel as if a Roubaix experience – like the one featured in the video – wasn’t too far from my own.
In the first effort of the first edition, one can get a sense of how much jostling goes on in Roubaix. The cameraman on the motorbike bounces up and down on the cobbles of the Trench of Arenberg. We get the sense of just how much of a circus the atmosphere is. That is, if one weren’t staring at the floor trying to stretch out a two-minute effort. It’s the beginning of the Spiral.
For the first edition of Downward Spiral, we warm up with footage from the downhill mountain bike championship. Riding rollers to this makes it interesting. Afterwards we follow along in the Roubaix for the first spiral. The rest portions of the video are of some criterium race in some far-off land. Each rest segment features the same criterium race footage, only shorter as demanded by the matching effort. Needless to say, it does the trick. The rest period in the middle can’t come soon enough if one were to apply as much force on the pedals as possible for the duration of the effort.
The second portion features the Fleche Wallonne with a finishing kick up the Mur de Huy. It’s an ending that leads to strange guttural sounds, hacking, a puddle of sweat, a lame attempt at cursing, and possibly a forced dismount off the rollers when the cool down footage comes on and one forgets to push the pedals to maintain the mount. It’s a proper walloping.
I can imagine David McQuillen at his computer in The Sufferfest office watching Downward Spiral on some rainy day. More than five years have passed since the video was released. I can imagine him watching the workout and thinking how it would look in an updated format. And then he does it – he starts tinkering with recent Spring Classic footage and voila, the new Downward Spiral comes to life.
Here’s what one can expect in the updated version: On-screen information, high-definition video, orders to surge, a thicker story line, a faster-paced warm-up, same song selections with newer songs as well, and a couple other goodies that would spoil the effort. A word of caution about the updated video: it takes up a lot of space. The high definition file takes longer to download, but it's worth it.
The Sufferfest videos have come a long way since the early days. The idea The Sufferfest has been using is strikingly original. It gets in our head. It orders us to focus and to work hard where a coach normally would. The new version is seamless in its integration. No longer does one have to guess how much is remaining in the effort, it’s on the screen. The red effort bar moves ever-so-apathetically through the effort only to fade out with fifteen seconds remaining.
The whole tachometer experience works for the updated versions. The high definition videos make the red readouts pop against the background. The cadence is on screen for the entire time with an (audible) up or down arrow to alert us to the changing effort. Also featured on the screen is the rate of perceived effort (RPE), which is usually very high or very low in Downward Spiral. The final handy update is the reminder box that flashes close to the end of an effort or rest to remind us what to expect. Guesswork is no longer welcome in Sufferlandia.
The rest periods are satisfying in encouraging one to take advantage of these moments to the fullest. It makes no sense to push hard through speed workout rest intervals, and the beautiful race footage calms the effort down to prepare for the next flat-out interval.
While it’s officially moving into summer on the east coast of the United States, and usually people get satisfaction with stowing the rollers or trainers, The Sufferfest’s workouts can be a handy tool to keep in the quiver for race season results. Whether it’s to improve breakaway speed to hold that break, or it’s for quick bursts to win the lap prime, The Sufferfest videos should be utilized year-round to maximize fitness. Furthermore, one can utilize the cycling training plans set up by The Sufferfest. Designate the workouts to rainy days or just once-a-week sacrifices to outdoor riding; it keeps one honest where slacking could set in on the road (“I’ll wait till the next block to sprint because . . . “). At prices between $5.99 to $14.99 (depending on the length of video), one could come back again and again to beg for mercy, but walk away just a little bit faster for having done so.