Thursday, 4 February 2016

My musings just before the Tour of Sufferlandria 2016

In less than 24 hours, the Tour of Sufferlandria begins. I've written about the Tour before. You can read some of it here.

Up until now I've been soft peddling, more or less. Even riding outside in this strangely warm weather. 

But now it is time to do some serious basement cycling!

This year, the Tour is a different animal. There is a lot of reasons for that. The first one may be personal. Just over a month ago, I became a Knight of Sufferlandria. I feel different. My perspective is not what it was last year, it is perhaps broader, but also, maybe, a little less idealistic.

One of the other reasons is the new Sufferfest App.  For a variety of reasons, most very valid and reasonable,  the ownership of the Sufferfest decided to launch the new app just before the Tour and to encourage participants to use it for the Tour. In previous years, The Trainer Road App was used.

There was considerable outrage -- yes outrage -- over what some perceived as an abandonment of Trainer Road. So much so that the owner of Sufferfest had to make several public announcements to the online community about the rationale and the realities of moving to the app.

I am not going to argue or choose sides either way. I still use Trainer Road. In fact I'm looking forward to try the Beta version of it for the Tour.

I now also have and use the Sufferfest App too, although I've had issues with it initially because of my low tech (old tech) equipment. It now works better than expected.

Many Sufferlandrian's may forget that in its infancy, Trainer Road also had issues. In any case I'm sticking with both. Both have elements that I need in my training now and in the future.

I think it is going to be an incredible training and gamification exercise tool. And I look forward to its portability. For instance, training in hotel rooms, while on vacation.

I'm not the best training app reviewer, and, well, I can't do math all that well.
So numbers are not my forte. Others can give far better analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of both. I like them both for different reasons.  I will probably use them both in tandem.

I'm supposing this is what knighthood does; new perspective.

Another issue relating to the Tour has come up, that isn't really being talked about but I have noticed.

With Trainer Road in previous years. one could not start the Tour early and still get (graphical) credit for it - or Trainer Road prizes. There were prizes for donating money to the Davis Phinney Foundation for Parkinson's and for participating on Trainer Road.

This time around one only needs to donate to be eligible for prizes. 
This is my current donation page. I donated earlier, and it isn't showing up here. Feel free to donate it is a great cause. Read more details here. 

But seriously? The prizes are amazing, as they have been in previous years, but true Sufferlandrians don't do this for the prizes. They do it for the challenge, the training and the camaraderie. Prizes are nice, but so is the lottery. Many dream, few win. 

Now, there continues to be a huge incentive to donate to the Davis Phinney Foundation - and some incredible prizes for donating. But there is no disincentive or technical way to stop people from starting the Tour early. Of course it is understandable. People are busy. To schedule nine days in a row of at least 50 minutes of intense exercise is challenging.

But that was the beauty of the Tour in previous years. Everyone started at the same time. While all are encouraged to start within the 50-hour start period, a surprisingly large number of people have already started days before the group start.  This isn't really a big deal. But it will be a little disconcerting and annoying when people start finishing two or three days before the peloton. Also, as any event planner knows, once the hard boundaries of the event start sliding, other things may fall away too. But maybe I'm just old fashioned. I started my triathlon racing career believing a start time is unchangeable.

Again. This isn't a terrible thing. But it has changed the essence of this wonderful Tour that has, for me, created some great experiences and made several exceptional friendships.

Still, they say nostalgia isn't what is used to be. Things change.

This is still going to be a wonderful tour. Once the legs start turning and the holy water starts saturating the floor and the bike and the air, all will be as it was, a hot, sweaty mess!

Bring on the Tour! Allez Allez!

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