Review: The Sufferfest’s Primers
(2018) I think I speak for nearly every cyclist when I say the first spring-like day is a borderline sprint out the door. Riders all over the world shake their parking boot-like turbo trainer so viciously, I wouldn’t be surprised to see one or two dragging down the street behind cyclists. Imagine a desperate group ride, trainers comically sparking down the road attached at the skewer, towels fluttering from the handlebars, and for anyone who purchased a stationary bike and mimicked the guy in the commercial, a helmet for who knows what reason. Even those who have ridden through the rough winter weather eagerly attacks down the driveway exhaling, "At last!" I have been eagerly anticipating the moment when I can shut off the basement light for the summer with a spunky, “See you next winter…sucker!”
Nearly a year ago I sat in the pavilion at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to watch a session referred to as “Carburetor Day” or, “Carb Day” for short. Speaking of devices kicked to the curb long ago, Indy cars have not had carburetors since the last land missile qualified with one in 1963. And though it is two days before the Indy 500, it’s the last one-hour session drivers and teams can use to dial in their car for the big event. The teams work on everything from on-track race situations to pit stops. It’s the primer before the big show on the Sunday before Memorial Day.
All of this brings us to the weird scenario that sees me continuing my Sufferfest account into the race season. In years past I had dumped The Sufferfest App by now in exchange for outdoor workouts. The problem with those workouts was a lack of structure. It seemed recovery rides became more frequent, as did my bonks and incapability to respond to attacks. All that has changed this year and I am pleased to say one video in particular is behind the persistent renewal status.
The Sufferfest App ($10 USD/ month) is a structured virtual workout partner to get serious riders through the dark days of winter. Picking from several plans, riders can customize his/her programs based on the upcoming season’s goals. The app has a one-week FTP (4DP) test up to a ten-week endurance plan. There are several more plans in between. But one video in particular has kept me coming back even in the summer months.
It’s called Primers. Think of it as the Carb Day for bike racing, only the video is to be used the day before a race.
I’ve heard all of the day-before-race-day stories. A professional cyclist friend of mine stated he rode ten miles as slow as he could the day before a big race. Since he had never done that before he stated it felt “all wrong.” There’s the story of a group of cyclists who rode the entire fifty-plus mile course the day before at race pace only to have – shockingly - blown up on race day. It seems no one really knows what to do the day before a targeted event. That is, until now.
Simply open The Sufferfest App and load up Primers. It is a video that is neither slow-as-you-can-go, nor is it a virtual meltdown. As the name suggests it is merely a structured workout designed to get the legs moving in preparation for the big effort the next day. The key word here is structure. It is a controlled environment that holds you back when you feel great and motivates you when you have doubt. Doing the effort in the comfort of your own home eliminates the chance of going out for too long the day prior to the targeted race. As the race schedule heats up in the summer, it controls the environment by keeping the riding indoors. Riders can keep hydration and nutrition under control, another perk to the process. Keeping a rider off the road also preserves the equipment. There won't be any punctures here to stress a rider out before a race.
For the past two pre-season races I have used Primers. I should note that I used The Sufferfest through the winter season for the third year in a row, so there’s a base to be discussed. But each race where I have used Primers prior to race day I have felt charged not only at the starting line but also halfway through the race. That speaks volumes when compared to the blind guessing to race day prep.
It’s quite the opposite end of the spectrum, spinning to a screen in the basement telling the rider to dial it back often when compared to Carb Day at Indy. Where there are no people to watch the basement effort, thousands of paying fans watch the one-hour Indy car practice. Dark basements collide with the dayglo colors of the racecars and race team attire. There's the obvious lack of going anywhere on a trainer as compared to Indy cars sailing around the speedway at 230 miles-per-hour. The benefits of The Sufferfest’s Primers won’t be immediately apparent. Just wait until the next day when the race turns up in earnest. There will be a response to the attacks because the legs weren’t shelled the day before. Carb Day is an hour long; Primers is around 45 minutes. That’s not a bad trade-off to prepare to crush it for a big race. It’s worth it to keep the trainer ready to go and The Sufferfest App settled up through the summer race season.