Now, two days and more importantlay night of rest, later (along with a couple of beers) I can look back on my attempt to become a Knight of Sufferlandria. It was indeed a unique experience. Several weeks ago with the indoor season on the verge, I decided I will need an extra incentive to commit to proper training again. After everesting earlier this year and no organized events insight the Knighthood finally manifested itself in my mind.
So I took on the special focus training plan in the Sufferfest app. And there I was on my way. Eventually, in the SUF forum, I learned about Evan, a fellow Sufferlandrian on course for his own attempt on the very same day I was planning. I got in contact with him just to share experiences and some motivational thoughts along the way. So we stayed in contact on Strava and the SUF forum. From one of Evan’s comments on his SUF workouts, I learned he had initiated fundraising for research in PSP, a rare disease his father is suffering from. I wanted to support him with that and set up an additional donation option (https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/holger-and-evan-for-curepsp). That gave me an extra boost of motivation to really dedicate myself to the effort coming up. And I certainly hope I bolstered Evan’s motivation as much.
So how did the actual attempt go?
After final preps on Friday (lots of good food, hydration well, doing the SUF “Primers”, setting up the trainer, towels, bibs, fuelling stuff in reach), I was good to go Saturday morning. The alarm clock set to 6 I was aiming to start around 7. Doing 10 Sufferfest workouts back to back includes planning your playlist as well. I shied the longer workouts and decided on
I planned to do them all in ERG mode leveling the intensity down to 75%. Since I knew from other endurance events and my everesting earlier this year I can sustain an IF of around 0.7 that seemed reasonable to me. The first three to four workouts went really well. I was actually surprised how quickly the time passed. During “The Rookie” and “The Attacker” I had to dial down the intensity to around 70%. It turned out it was not the short high-intensity intervals that made me suffer but the longer sustained efforts. So when I had to turn down intensity levels to 65% during “The Wretched” that was an accordingly chosen title for the workout I had to suffer through then. Eventually, I recovered and almost enjoyed the feeling of still being able to pedal in circles when “The Best Thing in the World” was on the menu next. That was the time when I really benefited from some motivating comments on Strava. But the best time of the day I had in the 9th workout “G.O.A.T.”. I was able to do this well above 70% intensity again and realized this is my favorite of the SUF workouts. The stunning scenery, my ability to grind low cadences, and the motivating tunes gave me the kicks I needed to start “The Omnium” for wrapping everything up.
So now I’m sitting here, basking in my accomplishment and wait for the SUF minions to officially verify me to take place amongst Knights and Dames of Sufferlandrian Round Table. I can really recommend trying a SUF Knighthood for yourself if you haven’t done yet. And last but not least you can still support Evan and me in fundraising for CurePSP.
I’ve been wanting to do a write-up on my Knighthood attempt experiences, but I keep running out of steam halfway thru each time and then when I try to start up again, I feel like writing it completely different. So, I think this is attempt number 5? 6? Maybe I need 10 to get it right…
I know I’m getting myself sidetracked on the backstory, so I’ll try to skip as much as possible.
When I first signed up and looked thru the training plans I thought, there’s no way I’m ever going to even consider trying to this Knights of SUF thingie, and then put it out of my mine. But, after completing my 100k ride in September and 100 mile ride in October, and then joining the forums, it didn’t take much encouragement to make me realize I was already prepared for my attempt, and then it suddenly became absolutely imperative for me to accomplish it immediately.
I never had to think about what fundraiser I was going to do with my attempt. My dad is my cycling inspiration. I have a long post about it in the “Why You Suffer” thread. I’m riding his titanium dream bike that he bought for himself when he retired and gave to me when his disease got so bad he could no longer ride. And then he decided to buy me the smart trainer I now have, as well. So, it was a no-brainer to do a fundraiser the Cure PSP foundation, even if it wasn’t going to benefit him directly.
Getting back to my KOS attempt, The first thing I did was make a large spreadsheet. Every KOS workout and it’s duration, IF, TSS, and workout type.
After that I eliminated the ones I didn’t like as much or that I felt were going to be too difficult (The Shovel was the first to go). I had a limited amount of spouse support time to distract the kids, so I likely couldn’t do any over an hour in length - or just 1 at max.
Then I eliminated ones that had names that weren’t as optimistic sounding “A Very Dark Place” and “ISLAGIATT” (which I considered keeping, anyway, but it got cut out on length, too).
I needed to keep in at least a couple classic videos in, so I left in The Wretched.
I find the sustained efforts easier, so at first I had a lot of endurance and climbing videos in, but then realized I would die a thousand deaths if every video consisted of 40 minutes sustained efforts. So, I made sure I had a good mix and then moved them around to make sure I had plenty of recovery time. I put The Trick in at number 7 so I could get in some decent recovery (HA!) before the start of my final push. I also made sure I didn’t have videos with long, sustained efforts in them back-to-back. Or at least I thought I did…
I planned to do them all at 80% on erg mode and then adjust them down at some point if I felt I needed to.
I did the KOS training plan as my prep. The long 5 workout day in week 2 helps guide some small adjustments to my list (I removed GOAT and replaced it with The Omnium at #9). And then I was ready.
I was up at 3am and had a big plate of waffles and maple syrup with a shot of coffee and OJ. I mixed 4 liters of Gatorade endurance and at least another 4 liters of water and had 3 pouches of a natural energy power - with workouts 1 and 5, and then possible another one later if I felt I needed it. I had some snacks laid out next to me which I knew the exact carb content of. Fruit leathers (individually wrapped) (11g), granola bars (17g), Stinger energy gels (24g), and a bag of peanut butter M&M’s (16g). Gatorade was 22g per 500ml (based on how i mixed it), and my energy drink had 5g.
Every hour I made sure I consumed between 60-70g of total carbs. I also made sure I drank between 500-1000ml of fluids every hour. 500ml was Gatorade. Then I would drink as much water and/or water-energy drink mix that my body felt it needed.
I had my laptop set up on a tray in front of my bike with all the workouts pre-downloaded. I had a big fan. I was wearing my Davis Phinney 7-Eleven jersey (matching the one I bought for my dad) and my USC gaiter as a sweatband. I was ready to go.
My first video was The Bat. I love this one. The MTP incorporated into it is perfect and put me in the right frame of mind for the rest of the day. I did this one on 85% with the plan to then switch to 80% for the rest of the day. This video went perfect. But, then I started to have issues…
In between videos I started having sensor connection issues starting with the switch from videos 2 to 3.
My Wahoo cadence sensor wasn’t always reconnecting when I would start a new video. And when it did, it wouldn’t let me use it measure my cadence. I would have to remove it and reconnected it to make it work. And even tho, sometimes I would have to wait until 5-10 minutes into a video before the icon would appear to let me use it. This happened in between almost every video for the rest of the day. It was maddening.
My Wahoo TICKR hr sensor wouldn’t register my HR when trying to start Angels at video #3. After using the bathroom and filling up my water bottle and putting it in the fridge, I started Angels and the sensor wasn’t registering at all. I unsnapped and re-snapped it and even then it wasn’t coming up as an option. I had to unsnap it, take it off for a minute, then put it back on before it finally reconnected. And then I had problems with the strap getting twisted. Once I finally started Angels and go 5-10 minutes into it, I began to worry that I had take more than 10 minutes in between videos. For almost the entire Angels video I worried about it.
After I finished Angels and started Butter, I opened the SUF app on my phone and started checking the time stamps on my workouts. The time stamps only show the minutes, so I wasn’t sure what my rest time was between workouts 2 and 3. It might have been 9 minutes, but it could have been 11. So, I began looking thru the app to find 2 more workouts to add onto the end to make sure that if my first 2 workouts didn’t count, I could at least get 10 full workouts back-to-back by doing 12 (12-10=2). I actually ended up riding the first 3 intervals in Butter at 80% sitting straight up, both hands on my phone, while looking thru the videos on the app on my phone and making my “what if” plans. Before I knew it, I was already halfway through Butter and almost finished with 4 workouts.
My original plan was to do as many workouts at 80% and possibly drop down to 75% or even 70% for my last few videos, but then try to finish by doing Defender at 80 or 90% and go all out. However, while doing Angels and with the realization that I might need to do two more videos after Defender, I could no longer stick to that plan. So, I did Butter on 75% even tho I knew I was capable to continue at 80%. I knew I needed to save some energy for later.
Then, something happened during The Wretched 75% and The Trick. After doing Fight Club at 75% and feeling great, The Wretched was really hard. I did it at 75%, but even on 75% there was almost no recovery which I really needed after doing Fight Club. But, I knew I had The Trick coming up with a bunch of recovery time. I started The Trick at 80% on level mode for the 1 minute max intervals. Hit the 1 minute power targets in The Trick but rode all the recovery sections around 70-90w. Then I switched to level mode at 70% for the final tempo effort. However, somewhere in those two videos I started to get a pain in my left knee.
When I started Thin Air at #8 I could barely put pressure on the pedals at the start of the video and I was worried I was going to end up doing all the rest at 50% or worse. However, after about 10 minutes the knee pain eased and I was able get through it. The end of Thin Air is one of my favorites and when the last 3 minutes came up, I suddenly had all the energy in the world and felt awesome.
At #9 I did The Omnium I did at 65%, with plans to really hit Defender hard. My knee still hurt, but nothing I couldn’t handle and I was still hitting my 350w power targets and feeling great.
Finally I started Defender at #10. I wanted to smash the entire video at 80-85%, but with my knee pain, and two more “just-in-case” videos coming up, I couldn’t afford to really give it all to Defender. I did the first interval at 80%, the second at 75%, and then the last two at 70%.
It felt great to finish, but I didn’t have the emotional release I planned for or had expected, precisely because I felt I still had to do two more “just-in-case” and because of that I hadn’t given Defender everything I had.
My wife and kids came into the garage to congratulate me. It felt great, but not as climactic or excited as I had hoped (because internally I felt I still had to do those 2 more “just-in-case” videos and I wasn’t really done).
So, I started my 11th video - “Do As You’re Told”. The name felt appropriate. I wasn’t sure how well I was going to do, but I was going to do what I could. I put it on level mode for only the second time all day and dropped the intensity to 60%. I wasn’t going to shatter myself, yet.
My knee was not happy with me, but within a few minutes I was happily still hitting over 350w when needed without an issue. But…
I was now doing a video I hadn’t pre-planned, so I hadn’t downloaded it. I didn’t think I had time to download it and I wanted to get it done. I usually have no problems with my wi-fi in the garage. I almost never have to download my videos ahead of time. But… this time I did. Suddenly, the music stopped. Then the video paused. But at least the workout continued. Then someone opened the garage door and everything reconnected and the video started back up, but only for a few second. Then, 28 minutes into the workout, the worst happened. SUF crashed, but didn’t fully shut down. I didn’t want to force-stop the app in case it came back up and I could continue. But after a few minutes nothing had happened. I knew I had to reboot my computer and see if SUF had recovered my workout and maybe let me pick up where I left off. But… I had a windows update. And my laptop wouldn’t let me reboot without also doing the update. Soooo… I started the reboot and then my computer started updating. After at least 15 minutes my computer hadn’t finishing updating and I knew there was not point continuing.
So… I was done. Very anticlimactic. I had done 10 and a half videos. I wasn’t sure if it was going to count. I didn’t get that exciting finishing feeling. No rush. No adrenaline. No release. Ugh.
I took a shower and an Epsom Salt bath, then had a big dinner. But, everything just felt weird. And it’s taken me a few days to sort thru everything that has happened.
4 days later, I’m physically fine, except for my knee which is still tender to the touch. If I lean on it, it feels like a bad bruise. I haven’t been on the bike at all. Will probably wait until Saturday to even do a quick spin.
Mentally, I still feel in limbo. The app has already given me my Knight of SUF badge. I’m just waiting for some official confirmation and to get my name added to the list.
I’m proud of my effort. I worked hard. I did almost every workout at 75% or higher. I definitely suffered. But, mentally, I was strong, and I was never giving up. I did every workout on ERG mode except for the first half of The Trick (and my 11th video that didn’t get completed and didn’t count, anyway).
But what I’m most proud of, is my fundraising effort. I started my fundraiser with less than 2 weeks to go before my KOS attempt. Within 3 hours of starting my fundraiser I had surpassed my initial $500 goal. Within 5 hours I had already raised $1,000. I eventually raised over $2,200 which doesn’t include the donations that were made directly to the foundation and not thru my fundraiser. If anything, based on my own introverted personality, I am more proud of my fundraising effort than I am of my Knighthood effort.
I’ve had a few beers. Had some time to think. If for whatever reason my KOS attempt is invalidated because I possibly had a 10 minute 30 second break between videos 2 & 3, I know that I still completed the entire effort in the spirit of SUF, including doing that extra half a workout extra with plans to have done 12 workouts instead of 10. The suffering was glorious. GVa would be proud.
Thank you for your legendary story, Evan!
I had no idea you had so much trouble with the tech issues during the attempt. I had only minor issues I already knew beforehand. Unplug and plug in again the ANT+ stick worked most things out. In between one or two workouts I don’t remember exactly when I had to restart the app. So really nothing to become to mad about. But I can really imagine how #!#ed I would have been in your situation.
Anyway, I want to emphasize the one tipp I was most thankful about from our shared preparation experiences: The Spreadsheet! That came really handy.
Although I had not the same issues as you had I somehow made a similiar experience in the end. Being done with the quest was not flooding myself with any endorphines or basic happiness. It was just a task done.
I blame it on my that day finally matured inner Sufferlandrian who was just #!#ed that the suffering was over. And maybe that is the actual secret to the Knighthood of Sufferlandria
And also, something I didn’t mention - mostly because it ended up just being silly and inconsequential… At the very start, I started up The Bat to kick off my attempt… and my Kickr trainer wasn’t connecting. I disconnected it, tried to reconnect… nothing. NOT how I wanted to start my attempt. I checked the plug in the back, it was fine. I checked my power strip, it was on (I knew that because my fan was running which was also plugged into it). I was about to be really upset that my Kickr decided today of all days to be cranky. Then I checked the power block and saw that the plug wasn’t fully seated. So, I pushed it in and boom it connected and everything was fine. LOL.
But, seriously, I have no idea how the plugs come apart while I’m not using them. I neatly set them tucked in under the flywheel so no one steps on them in the garage while it’s not in use. It’s like how hangers get tangled in the closet. Or how headphones get tangled even when you wind them up really neatly.
While riding I have 4 things connected using bluetooth.
My Kickr Core
Wahoo Cadence Sensor
TICKR chest strap
Most days I just connect everything to my iphone. But on bigger or longer days I’ll connect to my PC so I can use my phone for other things. When connected to my iphone, the Kickr Core drops it’s connection about once every 45 minutes or so for about 5 seconds and then reconnects. Some days it stays connected the whole time, but some times it drops and reconnects once or twice.
If I’m using my laptop instead, the Kickr drops out a lot more unless I turn off bluetooth on my iphone. Then it stays connected pretty solidly, but still may drop out randomly once every couple hours. I think I only remember my Kickr disconnecting during my KOS attempt maybe 2 or 3 times total.
I’ve never really had HR sensor problems before. I think once or twice I’ve had to remove and re-add it to the app. But it’s usually pretty solid. It’s the cadence sensor that seems to have the most drop-out problems. And many times even when it is connected, I can’t use it because the icon in the settings doesn’t show until 5-10 minutes into the workout and I’ve long since decided to ignore it. It has a pretty new battery since I replaced it maybe 2 months ago.
Anyway… despite all the sensor issues, once i was 5-10 minutes into each workout I was able to completely forget about the sensors and really just enjoy each workout. Well, except for the first half of Butter. lol.
But yeah, that was a big momentum shift between Fight Club and The Wretched. Fight Club had just enough recovery in it, so at 75% I felt GREAT. Despite it being workout number 5, I was doing all TT efforts in my aero bars, I was hitting all the cadences and nailing every one of the 28 attacks. The first sign of fatigue began to show up in the last set when I could feel myself tiring and not quite hitting the cadences as easily. But, that was normal for each video. However, once I got part way into The Wretched and there were no real recoveries, that’s when I started to get tired. And I think that’s when my knee problems began. And then when I did the max efforts in The Trick, I think forgot all about my form and was all over the place (I must look hilarious while riding those efforts) and I think that’s really what did my knees in.
I think my only regret is that I wasn’t able to finish all 12 workouts. lol. I forgot how much I love doing Do As You’re Told. And then I was going to finish up with GOAT which is another of my favorites. And how great of a story would it have been to say I did 12 instead of 10! Much cooler than saying my pc crashed in the middle workout 11.
@Holger1980 I’m glad the spreadsheet idea helped! I forgot to mention that I had my own spreadsheet printed out next to me on my bike. I’m glad I did, otherwise I would totally have forgotten what order I had my workouts in. I wrote down my workout intensity next to each one. And then I would compare my expected start and stop times and then plan to see how I could get less rest in between efforts to catch back up to my expected 5 minute rest schedule.
Ohhhh… and that reminds me. lol!! Maybe TMI, but my “Tom Dumoulin moment” made me laugh - mostly because of the Tom Dumoulin reference. I’ll obscure this, even tho it’s not graphic at all. hehe
My wife and kids made me 3 pb & j sandwiches and gave them to me after The Wretched (#6). Those were some of the best snacks I had all day. I ate one then and another after The Trick (#7). Then… some time during Thin Air (#8)… my stomach started to hurt a bit. That made me nervous. I hoped I could get through all 10 without having to make an emergency break. During The Omnium (#9) my legs felt good (i as able to ignore my knee), but my tummy was still feeling iffy. I was trying to decide what to do. I made up my mind at the end of The Omnium I needed to use the bathroom. I ran inside the house quickly and pulled off my jersey and bib shorts. I laughed to myself as I called it my Tom Dumoulin moment. I wasn’t quite as quick as Tom, but I still made it in and out in less than 5 minutes. And at least I had a real bathroom instead of a grassy field. lol!
I have the same 4 BT connections as you on my laptop. And the same connection/dropout issues you’ve described. I would usually pause the workout and wait for it to reconnect (whilst still pedalling) to reduce the size of the recorded data gap. Sometimes, I would have to remove the device and re-add it. Only the headphones have a rock solid connection.
Anyway - it’s a bit off-topic, perhaps something for another thread!
I get way overly analytical at times (e.g. the spreadsheet), but I find it interesting that your end feelings were similar. I wonder how many other KOS attempts ended with more of a whimper than a bang?
I almost want to try again. But my knee and my wife are telling me no. lol. At least not for a while. Maybe I can make it an annual thing…
Edit: Woohoo! It’s official! I can finally breathe a sigh of relief and do a silent fist pump.
Great work! Just to save myself a load of work, could you upload your spreadsheet with all of the Sufferfest Workouts listed, with name / length / IF /TSS / Type / Other Info? I’m just setting up my schedule for 18/12.
@caashford I was about to do this when I saw that James uploaded his in the other thread. Mine was only partial, anyway, since I only added the 22 videos I actually was considering. Glad to see I’m not the only one that’s this analytical with their KoS effort. Best of luck to you on your attempt!
@caashford My spreadsheet is not as sophisticated as @emacdoug 's but it did the job for me. So if you want to give it a try - I uploaded it here: https://filebin.net/voe00nusb8ymtayu
Please note this is the first time I use this file sharing service “filebin”. I do not know if it’s safe to use.
I just caught up on this thread! Fantastic achievement, both of you. Having all those technical issues must have really messed with your focus. It would have been so easy to give in and try again on another day.
Thanks for the detailed accounts. Great read and inspiring (although not quite enough for me to attempt it ).
I’ve basically spent 2 years of base training. My only cycling training was preparing for Sprint Tri’s, so I only really needed a strong effort for 12 miles. I occasionally rode for 2-3 hours, but 95% of my rides were only 45-90 minutes long. But between the running and swimming I had built up a good base fitness. But still, I basically went from a max of 90 minute rides in Jan/Feb and gradually built up to riding 100km in Sept. Based on my 100km training I was able to do 100 miles in Oct. And then did my KOS attempt in Nov. Building up the longer endurance was way easier than trying to knock off 5 minutes from my Sprint Tri time. You can totally do it! It’s more mental than anything.