Initially, I was thinking about writing about Stages 7, 8 and 9. But to do so would not do them justice. Where would I begin?
- Stage 7. The Rookie One hour: a race simulation so intense, so real, that I actually leaned into turns.
- Stage 8: Revolver + Violator + Half Is Easy: Two hours and 25 minutes of intervals that were so intense, so quick and so demanding that I was worried I would snap my chain or break my derailleur. This was the Dame Alissa Memorial Stage. Dame Alissa Schubert, was killed earlier this year when she was hit by a truck while out cycling. Revolver was her favourite video. This stage, the hardest and longest ever in the ToS was dedicated to her and her parents who also became Knights of Sufferlandria with Alissa. This stage was an emotional, draining effort, not just because of the difficulty of the riding, but because of who it was dedicated for and because of the understanding of how vulnerable all cyclists are the moment they get on their pedals.
- Stage 9: ISLAGIATT: Two hours (ish). It sounds like a viking saga, doesn't it? "It Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time." This stage was my triumph. It was hard. It was long. It demanded unceasing efforts and concentration. Still, I finished it stronger than when I started the whole ToS and I even got three personal best power records, one for 30 seconds, one for 60 minutes and another for 90 minutes. Here is the file, if you like numbers and pretty graphs.
Trainer Road did a remarkable job keeping the 2,823 riders that started on the app. A total of 1,742 completed on Trainer Road. That is pretty remarkable considering that this was the most difficult Tour of the three I've done. There were also riders who didn't use Trainer Road, but participated. Many, many riders donated to the Davis Phinney Foundation for Parkinson's. As of February 2, 2015, more than $US101,000 was raised by riders. $5,001 was donated by The Sufferfest directly. What an amazing group of fundraisers!
The most remarkable part of this Journey through indoor training hell, were the people. Ironic as it is, I never felt alone - even though I was alone in my basement. And while Facebook has become very much a source of negativity and ridicule, the Sufferlandrians created a special place on Facebook, on Strava and on Trainer Road where they talked, shared challenges and triumphs, and laughed at each other and the absurdity of a nine-day indoor stage rage.
I was never alone. I was always one click away from Knights and Dames of Sufferlandria. This included Sir David Mcquillan and his minions at The Sufferfest. The amazing Connie Carpenter, and the Davis Phynney foundation peeps were there too. So was Kathryn Bertine, professional racer and creator of Half the Road who entertained everyone with "pop-up stages" and her participation in the most obscure of message threads.
I was never alone because, while spinning, while drenching the floor, my kit and my bike, I knew that there were thousands of strangers and new friends all over the world doing exactly the same thing. Some I got to know, although briefly, online. Others, I have forged strong bonds of friendship with, both from previous Tours and from this one.
During the tour, like many others, I posted pictures of my suffering and my triumphs.
Ultimately I triumphed too,
One of the most fascinating observations of this whole experience, speaking of Facebook, was what happened on Facebook itself. My regular, somewhat active timeline was absolutely taken over by ToS posts. Out of every 20 posts, only one was non-ToS related. even during the Superbowl! It will be difficult to return to regularly scheduled trolling now.
This was truly a Tour of Sufferlandria to remember. It was an experience that I will never forget. The last words, I think are literally my last words, as I completed ISLAGIATT. Here I am, out of breath and slightly hypoxic. Confusing Stage 8 for Stage 9. But this really captures the spirit of IWBMATTKYT!
Till we race again!