Monday, 21 July 2014

Sufferfest Knighthood - Sufferlandrian National Day 2014

Science of Suffering - The Background  
Road endurance challenges are the new cool. Be it completing an epic level challenge on Strava, the 3 Peaks challenge, or Everesting a local climb. People are picking goals far beyond their comfort zones and having a go. The fact they're on road bikes is even better!

I've completed a few endurance efforts over the years - Around the Bay back in 2004 when I first took up cycling, 50 laps of Yarra St, 6 hours on the rollers, then 100 laps of Yarra St. And as a lover of indoor workouts, when the Sufferfest brought us the 'Knights of Sufferlandria' challenge it was always on the cards. It was just a matter of when. 
To become a Knight of Sufferlandria, the highest honor accorded by the Sufferlandrian Ministry of Madness, one must simply do 10 Sufferfest videos, back-to-back. And there you have it: you’re a Knight.
I met with Craig Mitchell (Director, CrankSports) a few months back to talk about his plan to create an event where there would be a mass knighthood attempt on Sufferlandrian National Day 2014 - I was in! It just took me a few weeks to actually commit to making my entry official and really having to endure 10 hours on the ergo!  

The Plan

- Held at the Victorian Institute of Sport at Albert Park
- Group environment, big screens, pumping sound system.
- Event helpers on hand.
- David McQuillen, Founder & Chief Sufferlandria attending to oversee the day.
- A swag of event sponsors on board (hydration, nutrition, sweat testing).
- SBS covering the event for their Tour de France 2014 review show (10pm!)
- Fund raising for BeyondBlue.

I managed to convince fellow KPC rider and good mate, Stephen Lane, to join me in a quest for knighthood too. It was a relief to have someone like SLane along to share the day with. He is one of the few people who can pre-plan something like this down to the last calorie. He may have PhD levels of education and experience in the field of sports science, but it was his idea of taking a chair and plastic tub that was a stroke of genius. 

The Day

4:30am wake up for a 6am start at the VIS. SLane and I drove there in the twilight zone having watched the Tour de France stage for way too long the night before.

In total there were 11 individuals and two teams attempting the challenge with a range of levels and experience. We were all in it together from 6am to 5:30pm with only strict 10 minute breaks. It isn't a race, there is no set effort level, there is only a 100% guarantee of having to fight and push yourself through whatever demons visit you throughout the day.

The Setup

Having done an ergo or two before, SLane and I set up shop as best we could. We wanted to be as comfortable as possible, if that was at all possible. We were both on LeMond Revolution trainers and our S-Works Tarmac SL4 road bikes. The Revolution with an ANT+ speed sensor gives pretty close real-world speed/distance numbers too. 

Thule Chasm Duffel - More essential kit!
The Suffering 

"A journey of 53,888 crank revolutions starts with a single pedal stroke"

The sun was still 1 1/2 hours from rising as we started the first video under the watchful eye of David McQuillen. 15 minutes in and I had no idea how we'd keep this up for the full 10 videos. That was the wrong mindset to be in. I quickly flipped that into just focusing on getting through the current video. One step at a time.
Spinning. All day. No coasting....
Just under 100km completed before 9am. It was only the beginning. My mental plan of attack was to write off the whole day. No 'morning', no 12pm 'time for lunch', no mid afternoon coffee at 2pm. My standard daily routine was replaced. All that mattered was completing the current video.

It was into the fifth video that I thought that it'd smooth sailing through to the end..... yeah right. The sweat test we did during one of the videos indicated I lost around 1kg in just one video! More drink required! The first 20 minutes of videos 6-8 were a struggle. Too much food in the break maybe? Better too much than too little. Once the first 20 minutes of those videos passed, things were fine and the legs came good.

We had a few visitors throughout the day drop in to say hello. A lot of them were soon sent on coffee missions for us. Thanks again guys! Much appreciated!

The sun was setting and the second twilight zone of the day was approaching. We were onto the final video. Craig (the mastermind behind the day) mentioned that the euphoria of getting it done would carry us through the final video. Looking back on it, he was right. At the time there was nothing helping me knock out the final few intervals! What a struggle! It was like planting the foot on the accelerator with no fuel in the tank... while going uphill!

Finally the credits rolled and all 11 riders on the day who started had successfully completed the challenge. For me it was a week of training compressed into one day, and damn it hurt. For others it was the hardest physical challenge they'd ever attempted. We'd succeeded in more than doubling the number of Knights and Dames in Australia.

The Reward 

Laying down for more than 10 minutes at the end was reward enough. The post race pizza tasted pretty good too.

Knighthood Tips

- If 10 is too many to start with, aim for 4 or 5 in the lead up.
- Set up your environment properly.
- Have food, drink, towels all within reach and preprepared.
- Plan your calories. Eat and drink often.
- Change knicks and socks every 2-3 videos.
- Turn off your headunit GPS feature and backlight to preserve battery life.
- Chamois cream is important. Thanks to KPC sponsor Aussie Butt Cream we were sorted in that, er, area!
- Find a friend, or friends to help get you through this. Doing this alone would be twice as hard for sure.
- Have a goal. Challenge yourself. Support others who do too.
- Come join us in 2015. We'll do it again! Keep an eye on @ScienceofSuffer

Thanks to

1 comment:

Neil Robinson said...

you're sick in the head man... i love it!