Guy has been a longtime fan of our chamois cream and more recently, soothing gel too. He contacted us to tell us he was about to undertake The Sufferfest's greatest challenge; becoming a Knight of Sufferlandria. Over to Guy...!
With the country in lockdown, like many my event calendar has changed dramatically. This year was the start of my journey towards Race Across America in 2022. With events being postponed and cancelled left, right and centre, I wanted to find a challenge to keep me motivated and do some good whilst I was at it.
Knights of Sufferlandria
The Knighthood is a fiendishly simple concept; complete 10 Sufferfest videos, back-to-back and in one go. These videos are high-intensity, low-volume workouts, that are on average 50 minutes in length, making this a minimum of a 10hr challenge. Simply put, this challenge is about suffering.
It's a hard time to ask people for money, things are so uncertain for a lot of us at the moment, but I wanted my suffering to mean that someone else didn't have to. COVID-19 has touched lives right across the globe in very different ways. Sadly, those in most in need will suffer the most so I decided to raised money for The Trussell Trust. The Charity operate food banks and provide emergency food and support to those in most need – food bank use by families has gone up 122% based on the same time last year. If you can spare anything, you can donate here.
I took on the challenge on May 2nd in my rather unglamorous garage ‘pain cave’, but in a way I needed to isolate myself, focus and get this done.
The first 5 workouts went by quite fast. Sufferfest is different from other cycling platforms in that each of the workouts is coupled with video from World Tour races gone-by and some high tempo music, this makes it a lot less mind-numbing than trying to simply tap out mileage on the likes of Zwift.
These, shorter more intense indoor sessions are very different from riding outdoors and that's a big part of what makes this such a good challenge. Being on a trainer means your body is static for a much longer period, with more pressure on the key contact points with the bike as well as your neck and shoulders. The 10-minute break between each workout is a 'golden window', it's actually quite a lot of time if you are disciplined about how you use it. My strategy was simple; at the end of each workout set the next one up, then jump off the bike go to the toilet, refill any bottles, eat and importantly stretch, just to get a little movement across the shoulders and neck more than anything.
Despite it being a fairly overcast day I still managed to burn a huge amount of calories, losing around 3 and a half pounds throughout the day through sweat. I knew hydration would be a key to making this as comfortable as possible, over the 10 hours I drank 5 litres of fluids, sticking to a mix of plain water, electrolytes and a high-carbohydrate sports mix. This was supplemented this with a mix of real and packaged food, a cheese and marmite sandwich, 1 banana, 2 homemade flapjacks and 3 energy bars. It's definitely harder to fuel while riding at a higher intensity and I found that, particularly early on, food just wasn't settling which is when I opted to change to the high-carb drinks to try and ensure I was continuing to fuel my muscles.
Sweat brings other problems and that's where I'm thankful for the support of the guys at Veloskin. The cap kept the sweat out of my eyes but more importantly their products offered much needed protection for the most delicate areas. If you're going to sit on a bike for 10hrs (or more as I've done) the last thing you want is for your chamois to be grating against your skin. The key for me is in using good kit and a great chamois cream. One application before starting and then a top up after workout 7 (I could feel the dried salt starting to grate) was all I needed for complete comfort.
On the turbo trainer, particularly a non-smart type, there is no hiding - you can't free wheel or coast. My legs started to feel this around workout 7. While getting over the halfway point is a huge mental milestone, by this point fatigue is starting to set in. This is why the choice and order of the workouts is important. My final session, ‘Power Station’ was a series of 9 low cadence, high power efforts to simulate hill climbing, which was a brutal way to end.
Recovering and reflecting
Amazingly I felt ok the next day, but I think a good recovery routine has a big part to play in that. For me that’s a recovery shake immediately on finishing followed by a decent meal within an hour. Other than that, I had a nice hot bath and liberally applied some Veloskin Soothing Gel to my legs and shoulders, the natural vitamins and minerals are a great way to ease the aches and pains after a long ride.
A final important note of thanks to all those who supported me during the challenge, because of this we managed to raise £500 for The Trussell Trust, which will go a long way to providing essential supplies to those people who really need it in our communities.
Congratulations Sir Guy! From all the Team at VeloSkin!