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Tour of Sufferlandria: Stage One

Believe it or not, I’ve never ridden a road bike until a few weeks ago. Literally. And I still haven’t actually ridden a road bike on the road. I’ve only ridden it on the trainer with Sufferfest Videos. So, obviously I’ve never done a road race before, let alone a whole Tour. But that hasn’t stopped me from entering the 2015 Tour of Sufferlandria (TOS) with Robby “The Darkness” Brown.

Tour of Sufferlandria 2015

Don’t know what the TOS is? Read my last post for more info.

Today was the first day of the Tour – Stage 1. I headed over to Robby’s place this morning. On tap for today was “Elements of Style” followed by “The Long Scream.”

“Elements of Style” runs you through a useful systems check (I’ve realized that I tend to let my knees flare out and bunch my shoulders up, creating a lot of tension), pedaling technique, and high and low cadence drills. It’s a great video for a recovery ride. I used it this past Monday after the MLK 4 and Joe Dirt Rides.

Today, though, it served as a nice, long warmup before the real suffering of “The Long Scream” began.

Tour of Sufferlandria 2015 Elements of Style Stage 1

“Elements of Style” got our heart rates up and sweat pouring. It was a great start to the Tour.

Sadly, my Garmin decided to stop working this morning, so I have no data for my heart rate or “distance.” I used TrainerRoad to keep me on track with “Virtual Power,” though. And if I had any concerns about my FTP being too low before, those concerns were erased during “The Long Scream.”

“The Long Scream” is designed as an add-on workout – to be added at the end of another video or workout. There is really no warm-up to this video. The suffering starts early and comes at you nonstop for 30+ minutes at or slightly above threshold. The only “rest” comes in the form of slowing down ever so slightly to simulate taking a corner, but each corner only lasts 5 – 10 seconds before you have to ramp it back up.

Tour of Sufferlandria Stage 1 The Long Scream

I had read many people’s facebook posts on how difficult “The Long Scream” was, and the video didn’t disappoint. It was really tough to stay in the green on TrainerRoad by keeping my power high enough, but it was also pretty motivating. When I saw my numbers dipping a little too low, I’d try my best to pick up the pace.

I wasn’t perfect with matching the recommended power numbers (especially when I had to adjust my junk or re-situate myself on the saddle), but overall I definitely suffered. A lot. I know Robby did too. It pretty much sucked, but in a good way. Sort of.

End of Stage 1 of the 2015 Tour of Sufferlandria

We’re only smiling because the suffering is over for today.

All in all, it was a great Stage 1 of the 2015 Tour of Sufferlandria. It’s going to be a long, grueling Tour, though. I haven’t done all of the videos left in the Tour, but I’ve done enough of them to know this is going to hurt badly. Stage 8 (3 grueling speed videos with seemingly endless high intensity intervals) just might kill us.

Tomorrow’s stage is just one video, but it’s the second longest video in the Sufferfest arsenal: Blender. I haven’t done that one, so it should be an (un)pleasant surprise.

Until tomorrow, suffer on, my friends!

UPDATE: Stage 2 can be found right here!

Snow, Ice, Mud, Blood and Bikes

It’s been awhile since I’ve gotten out there for a nice, somewhat long, gravel ride with teammates and friends.  Zack set this ride up, and at first it seemed like it would just be three of us.  Then more people said they were in, too, which was very cool.  The more the merrier!

group gravel ride

Look closely and you'll see everyone (excluding me since I took the photo). You can just barely see Stoney's and Bob's heads in the background. Also, this is the only photo of Barry (farthest left) since he took off like a bat out of hell.

We had planned on riding this route.  Well, I planned on cutting that ride short to begin with since I had to be back for a birthday party my daughter was going to… And because I’m a wimp.  We decided to slightly alter the route since the Katy Trail was covered in a foot of snow.  We had to ride on Highway 63 for a short distance instead.  We had no problems, though.

I won’t bore you with too many details.  I’ll just say that the weather was terrific.  Although, the roads were pretty muddy in spots and icy in others.  It was a ton of fun.  You should have been there!

I’ll leave you with some fun facts from our ride, followed by a few photos and then a photo montage.

Now on to the Fun Facts…

Participants: Zack Lamb, Bob Jenkins, Adam Lafoon, Barry Vollmer, Matt Stacey, Stoney Cranmer, Don Daly, and Luke Lamb.

Distance: Bob, Adam, and I rode a total of 26.36 miles.  The rest of the group wimped out and decided to keep riding for a measly 30 more miles or so.  In fact, they’re still out riding as I type this.  What a bunch of cream puffs!

**UPDATE**: Zack, Matt, Don, and Stoney made it 55 miles including a 2 mile hike-a-bike section in over a foot of snow (photos at the end of this post).

Number of Crashes: Two.

Rider with the most crashes: Bob Jenkins with two.

Riders in Shorts: One – Bob Jenkins

Rider with the Most Bloody Knees: Bob Jenkins

Now, on to the photos…

Bob crashing his bike on ice

Don points out Bob's first crash in case any of us missed it.

Bob's bloody knee

The aftermath of Bob's fall (although it would get worse after the next crash).

 Zack Riding his Cross Bike


Adam riding gravel


Stoney riding gravel


Dong Daly


Group Ride on Snow and Ice

Roads either looked like this...

Wet, muddy road

...or this.


Fenders on bikes work

Don't think fenders work? Zack was the only with a fender, so check out his ass (middle) compared to Don's and Stoney's.

Adam's Muddy Camelbak

Adam's new Camlbak... Well, it was new before this ride.

Muddy Adam, Bob, Luke

A Muddy Good Time.


Bob's Bloodier Knee

This is what Bob's knee looked like at the end of the ride. I'm sure it won't get infected. (Click on photo to get a really good look)



Now on to the Photo Montage…


Here are some Photos from the long riders’ Hike-a-Bike…


Hike-a-Bike in Snow

This could not have been easy. (Photo by Matt Stacey)

Zack and Don Hike-a-Bike

Zack and Don making their way through the snow. (Photo by Matt Stacey)

Cross bikes in the snow

Cross bikes in the snow... So pretty. (Photo by Matt Stacey)



Castlewood Recon a Crashing Success

On Wednesday, November 25th, Bob Jenkins and I headed out to Castlewood State Park to pre-ride the trails before we destroy all in our path at the Castlewood 8 hour Adventure Race on Dec 5th. We printed off a trail map from Gateway Off Road Cyclist’s site here, and we were ready to roll.

Bob and Luke at Castlewood State Park

Ready for Action - Or Do We Just Need to Take a Dump?

We did not want to kill ourselves by riding as hard as we possibly could, so we came up with our new motto – “Fun is better than Fast.”  Our goals were to get a feel for the trails and, more importantly, to have a blast. Mission accomplished.

It was around 40 degrees, but the wind made it feel a lot colder.  Once I got my bike shoes on, I turned around to see Bob bundled up from head to toe.  I had a couple of thoughts: A) I was clearly under-dressed and was going to freeze my bean bag off, or 2) Bob was way over-dressed and would be shedding layers soon enough.

Bob Bundled Up

Bob pondering if he'll be warm enough in all of his bundled-up glory

We left the parking lot and immediately climbed an old jeep road that sucked balls.  It was really steep with lots of loose rock, but the view from the top made it all worthwhile. As we took in the view and recovered, Bob decided to shed several layers.

Bob's Monster Cross Single Speed 29er

Bob's Monster Cross Single Speed 29er at the top of the climb

The maps were pretty good, although there were a couple of places where one could get a little turned around.  The Roller Coaster Trail is marked on the map, but it is not marked on any of the trail signs at the park.  There are also a couple of side trails that are not on the map, and they are unmarked at the park as well.

The trails were a lot of fun with only a couple of rough climbs.  The Roller Coaster trail was so fun, we rode it twice. The River Scene Trail was also a lot of fun.  It’s flat and fast, and we rode this twice as well. We took our time and goofed around a lot.  We (and by “We” I mean Bob) practiced some bike handling skillz, and then Bob worked on some of his trail blazing technique down the side of a mountain.  This will surely help us dominate the upcoming adventure race.

Bob's 180 pivot

Here is Bob in the middle of a perfect 180 pivot

We headed over to ride the Stinging Nettle Trail.  The connecting trail along the river from River Scene Trail was also flat, fast, and fun with several slalom-like sections where you could take alternate routes.  At one point, I took an outside line and blew by Bob as if he was standing still – total annihilation.  Later, however, Bob decided to take an inside line right through a swampy section to fly by me.  As Bob blasted past me in a furious blur, a tidal wave of nasty, smelly mud-water douched my entire body.  Thank God it wasn’t cold and windy or else getting completely wet might have… Oh wait, it was cold and windy (Thanks, Jerk).

Bob in a muddy creek

Bob's unsuccessful attempt at crossing a mud-infested creek

Bob crossing the muddy creek

Bob's 2nd and successful attempt at crossing the muddy creek

As we got closer to the Stinging Nettle Trail, we encountered just a little bit of mud.  Then the mud got worse… and worse… and worse… Within about 100 yards it got so bad that we had to abandon the notion of riding Stining Nettle and Cedar Bluff Trails.

Muddy Bikes at Castlewood

The mud made this trail unrideable

Mud Covered Wheel

The mud was ridiculous

We didn’t want to destroy the trails, so we turned around and headed back.  It was a lot of  fun, and now we know the trails at Castlewood State Park like the back of our hands… Sort of.   Team Virtus is now ready to destroy anyone that stands in their way a the Castlewood Adventure Race on Saturday – or at the very least we’ll have more fun than everyone else, and that is a guarantee.

Team Virtus after riding Castlewood

We had a muddy-good time

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