Here is a link to the event. So much has been said by others and said so much better than I can, that I couldn't do it justice. Besides. I have talked about the Tour many times before.
What else made this a "real" tour? The suffering. Participants worked harder than they thought they could - some for the first time - to achieve the goals of the Tour. Sufferlandrians call this "suffering". There is as tradition of thought that crosses all cultural divides and ages that believes that true gains, true benefit and true enlightenment can only come through suffering.
- Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable... Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals. Martin Luther King, Jr.
- Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved. Helen Keller
- To live is to suffer, to survive is to find some meaning in the suffering. Friedrich Nietzsche
So all the participants suffered. Not only physically through the intense efforts needed to do the rides, but also in terms of scheduling, in terms of personal and social sacrifice. Some had to give up activities and plans that they had to complete the rides. Some had to not spend as much time as they normally do with their families. Some actually hurt themselves, or pushed themselves to the limits of pain and endurance. Many went way beyond their comfort zones, physically, socially and in their fund raising efforts.
A big part of this year's Tour, as in previous years, was a Facebook Group. The Tour of Sufferlandria 2016. This was possibly one of the most sociable, connected, friendly online groups I have ever encountered. It was not unusual to look at my Facebook feed to find 30 or 40 new notifications every morning - and these were not just comments to the group, these were actual conversations, some frivolous, some completely earnest.
One of the non cycling activities that many engaged in was posting of pictures and video of personal suffering. This was not a display of "I'm suffering more than you". Rather, it was a proud display, in a safe environment of a shared experience. Individuals posted pictures of total physical exhaustion, or comments from confused or disapproving co-workers or family.
The group understood. The group never judged. To be completely honest, some did judge, but were very quickly shut down by others. this was not a place for trolls or jerks.
But this wasn't all making friends and singing of kumbaya. This was hard work. This was descending into my, albeit comfortable, pain cave for nine days straight. Descending down there, even when my legs were tired, when my hips were sore, when I had strange and painful abrasions on my nether regions that I haven't had since I was in diapers. It can be noted that a wet chamois on bike shorts may be likened to wet diapers.
Doing this, like I've done it before, required significant mental toughness - as I have written about in earlier blogs. (note there is a problem with some early blogs and the pictures are not loading). I needed to keep focused on the required task. Unlike in previous tours, in this one, there was no way of proving that you actually did the workouts. Previously, they were measured on Trainer Road. This link is my rides from last year's Tour.
This year's Tour was based on the honour system - you only had yourself and the virtual group of Sufferlandrians to keep you honest and accountable.
That is only partially true, though. As a Knight of Sufferlandria, I had the honour of competing in a challenge of power and strength against other knights. This was measured and calculated daily. I'm pleased to say that I cracked the top ten. First time I've ever done that in a sporting event in my life.
So, how did I do? What are my stats? I don't really care for evaluating numbers. Maybe that is why I don't really get that competitive. But it is interesting to see what I achieved.
- 9 Stages
- 12 Videos
- 12.5 Hours
- 324 Kilometres
- 11 Changes of clothing
- 20 Towels
- $140 raised personally for Davis Phinney Foundation
I also took lots of selfies of me suffering and learned how to do selfie videos. I've added some of them below. Each is self explanatory. One of my goals was to try to make others smile during a time of very hard work. I posted much of this on the Tour page. I hope that they were liked. I did get some good feedback and considerable laughing - and thankfully not the pointing at me and laughing variety.
In this one, just after I finally finished, I was attached by Wilbur, the dreaded basement-dwelling bear. It was okay though, because Wilbur is very plush.
This video was in honour of Spoke 'n Hot Women's Cycling.
This one was in honour of World Bicycle Relief, for whom I had the privilege of raising money during my knighthood attempt. Here is the blog of my attempt that they posted.
And finally. finally! My final video. It includes some fancy, low tech camera techniques.
Thank you all for participating in the Tour and for making this, yet again, another great experience and a key part of my training, not just for sport, but for living!