Monday, 21 July 2014

Sufferfest Knighthood - Sufferlandrian National Day 2014

Science of Suffering - The Background  
Road endurance challenges are the new cool. Be it completing an epic level challenge on Strava, the 3 Peaks challenge, or Everesting a local climb. People are picking goals far beyond their comfort zones and having a go. The fact they're on road bikes is even better!

I've completed a few endurance efforts over the years - Around the Bay back in 2004 when I first took up cycling, 50 laps of Yarra St, 6 hours on the rollers, then 100 laps of Yarra St. And as a lover of indoor workouts, when the Sufferfest brought us the 'Knights of Sufferlandria' challenge it was always on the cards. It was just a matter of when. 
To become a Knight of Sufferlandria, the highest honor accorded by the Sufferlandrian Ministry of Madness, one must simply do 10 Sufferfest videos, back-to-back. And there you have it: you’re a Knight.
I met with Craig Mitchell (Director, CrankSports) a few months back to talk about his plan to create an event where there would be a mass knighthood attempt on Sufferlandrian National Day 2014 - I was in! It just took me a few weeks to actually commit to making my entry official and really having to endure 10 hours on the ergo!  

The Plan

- Held at the Victorian Institute of Sport at Albert Park
- Group environment, big screens, pumping sound system.
- Event helpers on hand.
- David McQuillen, Founder & Chief Sufferlandria attending to oversee the day.
- A swag of event sponsors on board (hydration, nutrition, sweat testing).
- SBS covering the event for their Tour de France 2014 review show (10pm!)
- Fund raising for BeyondBlue.

I managed to convince fellow KPC rider and good mate, Stephen Lane, to join me in a quest for knighthood too. It was a relief to have someone like SLane along to share the day with. He is one of the few people who can pre-plan something like this down to the last calorie. He may have PhD levels of education and experience in the field of sports science, but it was his idea of taking a chair and plastic tub that was a stroke of genius. 

The Day

4:30am wake up for a 6am start at the VIS. SLane and I drove there in the twilight zone having watched the Tour de France stage for way too long the night before.

In total there were 11 individuals and two teams attempting the challenge with a range of levels and experience. We were all in it together from 6am to 5:30pm with only strict 10 minute breaks. It isn't a race, there is no set effort level, there is only a 100% guarantee of having to fight and push yourself through whatever demons visit you throughout the day.

The Setup

Having done an ergo or two before, SLane and I set up shop as best we could. We wanted to be as comfortable as possible, if that was at all possible. We were both on LeMond Revolution trainers and our S-Works Tarmac SL4 road bikes. The Revolution with an ANT+ speed sensor gives pretty close real-world speed/distance numbers too. 

Thule Chasm Duffel - More essential kit!
The Suffering 

"A journey of 53,888 crank revolutions starts with a single pedal stroke"

The sun was still 1 1/2 hours from rising as we started the first video under the watchful eye of David McQuillen. 15 minutes in and I had no idea how we'd keep this up for the full 10 videos. That was the wrong mindset to be in. I quickly flipped that into just focusing on getting through the current video. One step at a time.
Spinning. All day. No coasting....
Just under 100km completed before 9am. It was only the beginning. My mental plan of attack was to write off the whole day. No 'morning', no 12pm 'time for lunch', no mid afternoon coffee at 2pm. My standard daily routine was replaced. All that mattered was completing the current video.

It was into the fifth video that I thought that it'd smooth sailing through to the end..... yeah right. The sweat test we did during one of the videos indicated I lost around 1kg in just one video! More drink required! The first 20 minutes of videos 6-8 were a struggle. Too much food in the break maybe? Better too much than too little. Once the first 20 minutes of those videos passed, things were fine and the legs came good.

We had a few visitors throughout the day drop in to say hello. A lot of them were soon sent on coffee missions for us. Thanks again guys! Much appreciated!

The sun was setting and the second twilight zone of the day was approaching. We were onto the final video. Craig (the mastermind behind the day) mentioned that the euphoria of getting it done would carry us through the final video. Looking back on it, he was right. At the time there was nothing helping me knock out the final few intervals! What a struggle! It was like planting the foot on the accelerator with no fuel in the tank... while going uphill!

Finally the credits rolled and all 11 riders on the day who started had successfully completed the challenge. For me it was a week of training compressed into one day, and damn it hurt. For others it was the hardest physical challenge they'd ever attempted. We'd succeeded in more than doubling the number of Knights and Dames in Australia.

The Reward 

Laying down for more than 10 minutes at the end was reward enough. The post race pizza tasted pretty good too.

Knighthood Tips

- If 10 is too many to start with, aim for 4 or 5 in the lead up.
- Set up your environment properly.
- Have food, drink, towels all within reach and preprepared.
- Plan your calories. Eat and drink often.
- Change knicks and socks every 2-3 videos.
- Turn off your headunit GPS feature and backlight to preserve battery life.
- Chamois cream is important. Thanks to KPC sponsor Aussie Butt Cream we were sorted in that, er, area!
- Find a friend, or friends to help get you through this. Doing this alone would be twice as hard for sure.
- Have a goal. Challenge yourself. Support others who do too.
- Come join us in 2015. We'll do it again! Keep an eye on @ScienceofSuffer

Thanks to

Friday, 11 July 2014

Sufferfest - Half is Easy review.

Years ago my indoor training was all about coach Troy. A fit looking guy walking around holding a stopwatch with his t-shirt tucked into his pants. Troy did a pretty good job of getting me and his subjects in the training studio though some solid workouts. After a while I needed something different. Coach Chris and his videos were next up. His videos and interval cut-scenes were more polished than Troy but I soon wore out their motivational value.

Then along came The Sufferfest. I started with the 13-pack bundle a little over a year ago and have added each new video to the collection as they've been released. David and his crew continue to take indoor workout videos to new levels of awesome (and suffering) with every release.


Now to Half is Easy, their latest offering released today. I had my mouse trigger finger ready to download as soon as it went live on their online shop.

Locked and loaded, the workout summary looks like a breeze. The meat of the workout being intervals of 15 seconds on, 15 seconds off. All this packed into a very time manageable 40 minutes.

The video blasts you though each 15 second interval with awesome pro cycling vision and just when you're about to explode... time for 15 seconds easy... with added lolsworth (yes, I made that word up) video clips to bring a smile to your suffering dial.

In summary - Was 'half easy'? Yes, half of it was easy. And since I had a solid day on the training plan, I did the video twice. I was hoping that if half was easy, then doing it twice would make the whole thing easy. Surely that math checks out?

My calculations were wrong. Twice 'Half is Easy' was anything but! I'm fully cooked! Great job on the new video Sufferfest. I'm already looking forward to the future ones.

Sunday, 29 June 2014

2014 Northern Combine ITT Championships (inc. SKCC ITT Club Championships)

Waaaaay back in 2007 I won the Elite Men ITT title with the Northern Combine out at Lancefield. Those were the days when no TT helmets were AUS/NZ standards approved, disc wheels were a rare sight, and we were all riding with Polar 725 watches strapped to our handlebars.

A lot has changed in those seven years. And a lot hasn't. If we're not TTing on magic hovering space-bikes in the year 2020 with timing chips embedded in our heads, I'll be disappointed in the lack of progression.

The TT this year was two completely different halves. A 12km slog into a 40km/h headwind with a few crosswind sections to almost flip the bike out from under you, then the 12km return leg touching speeds of 60km/h.

I was the only rider in Elite with a two minute time gap.... causing some race starter confusion. Once they had sorted that out, I was off. The headwind was as expected, the crosswind section was very nasty. Twice I had to get off the TT bars to keep the bike on the road. I was fully expecting to be picked up and put on my arse at any moment. Unfortunately being shitscared doesn't equate to more power to the pedals like anger does.

The anger power came after the 12km turnaround at 60km/h+ during the flying trip home. There was more oncoming traffic than usual. Mostly competitors leaving the event. One even completing two points of a three-point turn in front of me. There was arm waving. There was swearing. If you are going to leave an event before all competitors are finished, please don't drive on the course.

I had my two minute man, Dave Kelly (Total Rush), well in sight at the last turn to the line. Two more front wheel lifts out of the last corner for a final scare. Across the line in 31:34.

Elite Men Results:

1.  Miller   Shane    St Kilda CC  Elite     31.34    
2.  Kelly    David    St Kilda CC  Elite     33.04  +1:30
3.  Chambers Tyson    Hawthorn CC  Elite     33.07  +1:33  
4.  Smith    Morgan   St Kilda CC  Elite     33.17  +1:43   
5.  Dowell   Nick     Brunswick CC Elite     34.36  +3:02   
6.  Samaras  Kosmos   Coburg CC    Elite     36.00  +4:26   
7.  Zgoznik  Michael  Coburg CC    Elite     36.45  +5:11

8.  Horgos   Anthony  CCCC         Elite     41:54  +10:20 
=8. Johnson  Ben      Footscray    Elite     41.54  +10:20   
9.  Barnes   Martin   Coburg CC    Elite     44.09  +12:35   
10. Taylor   Chris    St Kilda CC  Elite     50.12  +18:38   
    Ransom   David    Sunbury CC   Elite     ?  

As predicted, the wind on the did stir things up a little. The time gaps were bigger than in previous TTs. Von had a great ride too, resulting in us being the Mr and Mrs SKCC ITT champions for 2014. Yeah team llama! With no Phillip Island TT this year, it is time to go into hibernation for a week or two before aiming at the next few targets.

Special mention to all the first timers who competed too. A few of us old-hats didn't have the kind of enthusiasm they all did at the start. We knew what we were in for! I promise not every TT is this hard, or hungry. The Vets put on a great spread of food after every TT. See the calendar here for more TT fun. I'll even personally I'll refund your entry money if you enter a TT and the wind is this bad again. :)

Getting Wiggo with it on the way home......

Monday, 23 June 2014

CV Castlemaine Open ITT & 2014 Mirabella Trophy Race

Excellent entry numbers for the Castlemaine 20km ITT held last Saturday. Going head to head with the CX racing (better suited to the wintry conditions) almost 100 riders tested themselves against the clock.

The 20km course is on the old highway. A fast section of road, except for all the hills. Last year I recalled being at the top of the first pinch in a world of pain and hating life. This year I had a few specific points on the course picked out that I wanted to nail at full speed while in the correct mindset. This made all the difference. With the slight tail wind I was at top of the climb 7km in around 60 seconds up on last year. The return leg was harder than usual into the breeze. I had Nick Bensley (StayTrue) pegged at 30 seconds with a few kms to go, but the run back into town is super fast, so no dice on pulling him back any further.

We were back on hand timing which caused havoc with the initial A Grade times. These were sorted by the time we went home thanks to some quick mathematics and someone's dad keeping the time keepers honest. :)

Going up against NRS riders, some stomping TKM guys who are knocking on the door of TT wins, and Drapac pro Lachlan Norris who rocked up ready to play - I was pretty happy that the my ride was good enough to take the win.

Finish line Garmin lap press... Photo by Jim Morey

Eureka Vets CC -  Mirabella Trophy Race 2014.

Windy, 7°C, wet roads, and patchy rain in Ballarat usually means a good sleep-in at the in-laws. Not this Sunday. Local legend Tony Mirabella along with Eureka Vets CC were running a race with his name on it and I was keen to help the scratch bunch have a crack at the title.

Limit had 22 minutes over the 48km. The eight of us off scratch instantly became six when two riders missed the start. We were going to wait until one of the riders yells "We've got Miller, we don't need them!". hah! Oh shit, he was serious, and we were off....  flat out!

Mirabella took a few kms to start firing on all cylinders, I had to drop back and pull him back to the storming scratch bunch who'd hit the first hill way too hard. After that we used the crosswind section to do most of the damage to the time gaps. On the second lap we timed the catch of 'block' meter-perfect. Catching them unaware just as they turned into the headwind.

15km to go, Mirabella and I upped the pace on the climb out of Learmonth. The two of us were clear of our group and had the limit riders in sight. The catch was made with 8km to go. Straight into the crosswind only Graeme Parker was able to stick with Mirabella and myself.

5km to go Parker dropped off the back and looked like calling it a day. Mirabella and I could see we had enough time to throw Parker a tow-rope to the line. We dropped back and kept him out of the wind and clear of the chasing riders. Parker dug deep to keep with us and to secure a top three finish.

I had enough left in the tank to kick clear to the line once I knew we'd had 1-2-3 sewn up. Parker took a well deserved 2nd place, with race sponsor Mirabella in 3rd.

Finish line shot... pressing the Garmin again!

With the amount of work we had to put in with a reduced scratch bunch, I didn't think we'd close the limit riders down. It was a bit of a surprise we'd caught them all. It was a pleasure to have ridden the whole day with race sponsor Mirabella, and an honour etch my name into the 2014 winner's trophy.

The hospitality and post race spread of food put on by Eureka Vets is second to none. I even managed to pull off the meat tray raffle win (thanks Mega Meats!)

Eureka Vets CC Website
Eureka Vets CC Facebook

Saturday, 14 June 2014

Bike food: Date - Banana Chip - Protein Balls.

These have been a winner for the last few months in our house. I've sacrificed a number of kitchen appliances figuring out how to chop up dates. Mixing something in with them prior to chopping does the trick. (check your appliance warranty too) 

Here's how to make your own - 


600g pitted dates
115g banana chips
80g protein powder
15g tahini
10g cocoa powder
Flaxseed oil. Just a little.

Makes ~15x 55g balls. 

~15mins all up to make. Nutrition facts were taken from here. Choose your own amounts, it really doesn't matter. The 600g of dates is the base that does all the work.

The goods.
The machine.
Chop the banana chips first, a few seconds will do.
Just enough to keep the the crunch.
Dates and protein powder next.... then 15-30 seconds of mixing...
Then add the tahnini... peanut butter works well too.
Mix is all up until your machine almost dies... another ~20 seconds.
A splash of flaxseed oil helps if the mix is too dry.
Chop into whatever size you like. Roll 'em up.
These are ~55g each.
Throw them in the fridge. Done!