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Peloton Cafe ||The Sufferfest Nine Hammers
By Ben Norden
My wife first introduced me to The Sufferfest one cold winter evening. We were training for a long course triathlon that year and it was a miserable winter. This particular evening I walked to the garage and she was on the ergo with a laptop mounted several metres in front of her. “What is this rubbish?!” I said to myself. I remember that thought like it was yesterday. But my wife clearly had a different opinion to me. “This is great” she claimed, as I looked up to see Cadel attacking in the final stages of his World Championships title in Mendrisio. I’d been with a coach for a few years and was accustomed to a tailored training session that was specific to my goals. I was simply not interested in trying a video that appeared to be very general. This stubborn attitude prevailed for a good 18 months or so before I finally gave in. I’d finished with triathlon’s for a while and was back to road racing. We were coming out of winter so the criterium season was looming and I desperately needed some speed in the legs. The Sufferfest called. I did the Local Hero video for my first attempt and couldn’t believe how absorbed in the session I became. Having had a number of years on a program with a very reputable coach, I couldn’t believe how well programmed the session was. For those unacquainted, there are now 20 cycling (and triathlon and running) videos that focus on specific elements of cycling – be it hill climbing, time trialling or racing etc. There is even a very good video on cycling skills and technique that was developed in partnership with Cycling Tips. Fast forward a few years and I found myself sitting on a bike at the World Premiere of Nine Hammers, the latest offering from The Sufferfest. Held at Melbourne’s newest cycling and performance studio in Richmond, Cycle Collective, I was curious to see how the videos had progressed. The latest offering has nine (hence the name) V02 max and Threshold intervals packed into 55 minutes. Designed by Neal Henderson of Apex Coaching, he has nailed (pardon the pun) the balance between rest and effort. Beyond the carefully planned and considered workout, the footage, graphics and music has reached another level. More than ever I was engrossed in the video and genuinely felt I was riding over the top of Froomey during the final metres of a recent Tour of Romandie stage. Another exciting element of the evening was the group participation. As is so often the case, the flogging’s executed by these videos are usually completed in isolation of the garage, spare room or in front of the television when the rest of the household is still sleeping. You can see why the good people at The Sufferfest are supporting the group sessions and I’m sure the Cycle Collective will have sold out evenings when they open the doors to the public on January 12 2015.