Monday, 12 February 2018

Tour of Sufferlandria - 2018 Edition

Well, here we are, the completion of the sixth tour of Sufferlandria. This was my sixth time getting on the start line and I am excited to note that I finished without injury or incident. I am also thrilled to note that at the close of the Tour, the total raised has been over $172,000 on a goal of US$150K for the Davis Phinney Foundation for Parkinson's.

The Tour, like previous ones included 9 Stages, a few interestingly painful ones at the the onset and two extremely uncomfortable ones at the end, including Kitchen Sink, a three-hour soup of some of the most difficult rides the Sufferfest has to offer.

But don't take my word for it. The video announcement is here:  Don't mind the abbreviations, we don't really know what they mean either, we just pedal like lunatics in our pain caves.

What was different, this year was that, for the first time, the Tour was to be done on the re-engineered Sufferfest App. Equally new was the introduction of the use of 4DP (Four Dimensional Power) instead of FTP as the measure of power targets for the ride. This created a whole new world of suffering and of the sense of achievement. Four Dimensional Power is explained here. 

Evolution of Suffering

Having done every Tour since 2013. I really appreciated the evolution of what's, essentially a basic fitness product, to a full-spectrum training regimen. You see, back in the good old day, David McQuillen, Founder and Chief Suffering Officer of The Sufferfest, was a guy with a good idea for making cycling better with the use of videos and some simple gamification, or role-play, as some would call it. 

This evolved into riding the Tour and individual rides measuring virtual power with the use a companion training program called Trainer Road, a powerful training app. But the two companies went their own way. The Sufferfest broke new ground creating and adding training for more than just cycling, but also running, triathlon and then yoga and, most lately, mental training - as if anyone didn't already think this was a mental pursuit. 

Some of the original supporters of SUF went their own way, others stuck around and embraced the change, the new App ecosystem, the advent of smart trainers, and an entirely new community. It is this new community that surfaced during the 2018 ToS. I heard rumours of some 5,000 competitors this year, which I believe is a record. Many of them showed up on the Facebook pages to share their joy, their anguish, their suffering and their mirth. As a Facebook refugee, veteran, survivor and frequent avoider, I have to admit, that these past two weeks have been a bit like the Prague Spring. There was, and continues to be so much love and support and peace and encouragement. Let's just hope it doesn't end the same way it ended for Czechoslovakia. But with Facebook, all bets are off.

By the way, if you are interested in that story. Do read Milan Kundera's The Unbearable Lightness of Being or watch the movie of the same name with Lena Olin and Daniel Day Lewis - it isn't the same as the book, but still an awesome work. But I digress.

There were so many Sufferlandrians, and I'd like to think that I was one of them, or at least one who supported the spirit of positivity that abounded during the Tour. It was all fun and games, and at the same time it was not. The efforts required, were at times very demanding. 

But part of the "fun" of the challenge was to demonstrate hard work and struggle in a way that was both inspirational and, well, hilariously funny.

I certainly could not do justice to any of the stories of struggle, of triumph, of success and of failure that I read on the pages. There was not a single day where my Facebook feed was not filled with stories that I would read and reread and even share with others to demonstrate what was going on between the cadence and the power.

Everyone is a Joker

Of course, there was also humour. Some jokesters, like myself took this event as an attempt to get some smiles and some laughter in the depth of, in all honesty what has been a pretty bleak January and February for many.

My way of dealing with it is with humour. Others used personal stories and others still wrote of feats of strength. All was welcome all was taken in the spirit in which it was intended.

At the end of the day, I would say that personally, this was one of the most successful Tours of Sufferlandria.  If you are looking for power targets and athletic achievement stories, you won't find them on this particular blog, as my goal was to suffer, to finish and to manage a new Low Carb-High Fat eating regimen that I have been on for the past two months. I will report on that in a coming blog. Initial results are promising.

One Sufferlandrian, graciously shared this graphic, which I'm including to document which of the videos were included, and their ride profile.

My other goal was, as you may have read from the words above, to strive to enjoy, interact and, when possible, inspire newer Sufferlandrians to a training environment that welcomed me so wholeheartedly many years ago.

Ironically, without any significant training goals, I still managed a couple of personal bests, including a 110 km ride on the final three hour stage. For those really interested in numbers, it was 9 stages, 476 kms and six loads of laundry. (I dubbed this the Tour of Sufferlaundria for appropriate reasons). I also managed to raise more money, personally, than I expected, for the Davis Phinney Foundation. I don't like asking for money, but some very good people donated a few bits and bobs, and I'm sure it helped the totals.

I made several good virtual friends on this Tour. I thank them for their support, their humour and their constant "pulling" through this nine-day virtual tour. I'd also like to thank the whole Sufferlandrian team, that "guy who rides with cows", the insufferable coaches who shall not be named,  and the support folk who humoured my constant "did you know what's not working..." comments. Thanks, as well to the Davis Phinney Foundation team who participated in the awesome circus.

This is truly a Tour for the record books and one that I will not soon forget. Thank you all. I look forward to getting back into the ring with you again! 


  1. It was great to ride this Tour with you Terry. It was my first ToS, and I achieved things I never thought possible thanks to the selfless and good humoured support and encouragement from my fellow Sufferlandrians. Cheers, Alastair

  2. Congratulations on your Tour, Alastair. It was a rare, perfect, brief moment in time.


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