Known for riding off the front of group rides only to be caught in the first mile, CJ got back on a road bike and realized he must win the Donut Derby at least once in his life. Regularly pledging he's "not a climber," he can be found as a regular attendee of Trexlertown's Thursday Night Training Criterium or sitting on the couch watching Paris-Roubaix reruns. CJ has been a constant rider of the Hell of Hunterdon in New Jersey and races the Tour of the Battenkill before going into seasonal hiding on cross-country ski trails.

Review: The Sufferfest’s To Get to the Other Side

Review: The Sufferfest’s To Get to the Other Side

(2016) I’ve watched the mountain stages of the Grand Tours and followed with bewilderment regarding the speed at which pro riders climb. I know there’s nothing easy in what they are doing, and I know it’s an exercise in attrition. All the riders start at the bottom of the mountain and the group keeps turning the screw to shed a few each kilometer. I’ve wondered what lures a human into designating himself a ‘climber’ as opposed to a ‘sprinter’ or a ‘domestique’ or even a ‘donut derby specialist’? Believe it or not, I may have found the answer in one of the new The Sufferfest videos, To Get to the Other Side. In the business world the phrase “Innovate or die” gets used to keep companies coming up with fresh ideas. For those interested in brevity, compare one of the earlier The Sufferfest videos to their recent barrage. They are innovative, they are interactive, they are night and day in comparison.

For starters the video has an emcee in Mike Cotty of The Col Collective. We get facts on the screen regarding the region. And finally we realize that the destructive bite typical of The Sufferfest videos has been exchanged for base mileage training. But don’t think it’s a ‘spin day video’ of sorts. You’ll definitely work for ninety minutes.

  The screenshot of The Sufferfest's  To Get to the Other Side  makes it immediately clear that the  videos are sharper than ever before.

The screenshot of The Sufferfest's To Get to the Other Side makes it immediately clear that the  videos are sharper than ever before.

Mr. Cotty is our tour guide of sorts through some of the best climbs in Italy and Austria. He is no slouch when it comes to climbing as the video points to some of his accolades regarding endurance rides that happen to go over many European mountain passes. He is certainly familiar with the climbs and draws our attention to the sights we would see if we were there and describes the sensations we cannot experience through video. Sometimes he makes your truly think he’d be a wonderful stand-in for Tejay van Garderen if they ever made a movie about him. He also provides a few tips on what to look for should we be lucky enough ever to cross those same roads.

The Sufferfest creates an interactive experience with pop-up windows to keep the rider’s attention glued to the screen. This video was probably the one I looked at the most in their library. Meaning, it held my attention even during the ten-minute-plus climbing sections. We get the climb facts, the history, the local color, the cycling history, and a notable leaning toward World War I and II. This is certainly a new approach.

This new video has a changed tone. It’s not to destroy a rider in the garage in under an hour. It’s not to make one try to tear the handlebars off in desperation. It’s a departure from all that. To Get to the Other Side’s purpose focuses on building base miles-like endurance. These climbs are trying to accomplish two things: to drop a larger motor into the cyclist for those climbing spells, and to work on form during the climb when it’s all too easy to hunch over and do whatever it takes to continue forward. Several times the video reminds the participant to loosen up, something not explored in group rides or on solo attempts. Even the music focuses the rider into thinking of form and the climb instead of waiting for the attack gun sound bite.

I must reiterate my statement about having watched more of this video than any other The Sufferfest videos. The scenery is absolutely beautiful. Mike Cotty does a wonderful job supporting the two-dimensional experience by explaining the sharpness of climbs, the beauty of the area, and the wonderment of climbing some of the fabled passes in Europe. Even if we didn’t have a bike, these would be towns to visit on holiday. Like the Tour de France, this video feels like part tourism advertisement and the viewer is absolutely willing to follow along.

I would recommend this video to help bolster some of those difficult to attain base mileage when the light outside doesn’t permit such a ride. This video is immensely beautiful but I felt I could only work it a couple times per month. Otherwise I would start playing games of predicting when the pop-up windows would come up. And really who wants to tire of views encapsulated in these ninety minutes? After folding up the rollers and stowing the bike I managed to gain an answer to the question I started with: I now see how riders become climbers. The Sufferfest’s To Get to the Other Side shows those outside of Europe that climbing high up mountain passes affords some of the most incredible vantage points anywhere. As someone who gets dropped before the climb proper even starts, even I want to go to all nine of these climbs and get my card stamped.

The Sufferfest’s To Get to the Other Side can be found on thesufferfest.com for $13.99 (personal use).

Events: Festive 500 Beyond

Events: Festive 500 Beyond

Rides We Like: Holland Township Touring

Rides We Like: Holland Township Touring