Knighthood Tips and thoughts

Hi all.
Having just survived my Knighthood attempt, I figured it would be good to put done some tips and thoughts for those that follow.

Video selection
Very person, but I am eternally grateful to the Knights who warned me against doing long intervals in the last few videos. I had chosen Team Scream for #8 but given how I was feeling by then I don’t think I could have survived it even at a low %. I did Team Scream at #2 instead (after Nine Hammers!) and it still knocked me around! Revolver at reduced % was a much better option later on.

Intensity
Again pretty personal here. The wisdom of knights appeared to be two-fold. Around 70% is good, but starting too high is NOT good. I started at 65% but after Nine Hammers and Team Scream I was starting to doubt this choice. Around #5 I was feeling horrid, and did GOAT at 55% - keeping to low cadence, and standing a bit just to change position on the bike. Thankfully after #6 I started to feel better and went up to 65-70% for the rest. Note that I had barely ridden in the month leading up to the quest so my numbers probably weren’t accurate at the time.

Food / hydration
Again pretty personal, but DO NOT dehydrate! And don’t just drink water - look up hyponatremia and marathon runners if you want to know why. My goal was to need to pee every second video. I missed one and increased my fluid intake for the rest of the attempt. If you don’t know a lot about sports nutrition, and haven’t done endurance events before it could be good to chat to a sports nutritionist / dietitian. I drank 5L of home made sports drink, 500ml of home made salted mocha gels, and 2L of water. I ate one and a half peanut butter and honey sandwiches, one chocolate au pain, and a handful of potato crisps. After the ride I continued hydration (another 1.5L water before bed), more crisps, and a smoothie.

Other Tips

  • Use a timer - I just had one set on my phone for 8 minutes. This way I had a little leeway. I was generally on the bike and pedalling before the buzzer went off.
  • Take shoes off for every 10 minute rest. I started to get a numb / hot toe on one foot so after #2 I started taking my shoes off as soon as I got off the bike. And put them on a minute before the timer went off. It may not seem like much, but it felt sooooo good.
  • Routine helps you get through mentally. I decided I would only post something to the group after every 2 videos. This made me think of it as 5 “sessions” rather than 10. Every 3 videos I changed shorts / bibs and socks. This meant a new set for the last video (don’t want to come into the castle smelling that bad!).
  • At one stage I decided to distract myself by watching The Matrix. I was thinking about what a great soundtrack it had and decided to watch it. I don’t necessarily advise it, as I found it so out of synch with what my body was experiencing that it was quite difficult. Going back to the Suf videos was actually a relief (does seeking a relief disqualify me?).
  • Chamois cream is necessary. This is a LONG day. Thankfully I make my own, so was fine with gooping it on. I only put it on when I changed shorts, but some do it every ride.
  • Download all videos and make sure your bike / trainer is ready for it. My gears were generally good, but not always. And yes, I’m well aware I shouldn’t need gears as I had a smart trainer, but I still find them useful as high gears are better for long intervals.
  • I used a Garmin Edge that was plugged in to mains power to record the entire ride (apart from the first few minutes as I forget to hit go!). I also saved every workout as soon as it finished to Strava as well as getting the tcx file emailed to me. At the end I deleted all the individual workouts from strava and just uploaded the big one.

ok, that’s all I can think of now.

Best of luck to anyone attempting this in future - it is not to be taken lightly… :slight_smile:

Chris (hopefully Sir to be as soon as confirmed)

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Great tips, @ChrisMTB ! I second them. Nutrition is highly personal, but it’s good to mix techie stuff with comforting real food, and a variety of salt and sweet. And yes, do not get dehydrated!

Also want to highlight your tip on video choice. What feels good as a HIIT workout is not what feels good on an endurance ride. Toward the end, you’re going to want maximum variety and short intervals with rest periods and cadence changes. The Shovel is actually a lovely late stage option, though you might expect it to kill you if you haven’t tried it in an endurance context.

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I was planning a KOS attempt on 18th April. I’m hesitating as I think my backside can’t cope with it as I’ve struggled with comfortable sitting for longer rides (longer than 2.5 hours) on the trainer. Seat fitting, bike fitting have all been done, as have lots of experiments with subtle adjustments but it’s not getting any better.

Would a rocker plate make a difference to comfort for a KOS attempt? I’m not looking for realistic feel, just long ride comfort.

Martin

I haven’t ever tried one myself, so I’m not really sure. I think you would still be putting a bit of force on those areas. The reason it doesn’t occur outside as quickly is you are more likely to be moving around and standing up. This is why I tried to stand as often as possible. Sometimes it caused a bit of pedal mashing, but that was preferable to how my bum was feeling! :rofl:

Chris

I had the same issue on the turbo. In the end it was a combination of saddle and shorts that sorted it for me (I say sorted, I was in no way comfortable by the end of the knighthood but that’s sort of the point I suppose). I took the most comfortable of my saddles from my bikes, I have one that is a endurance set up and I tried different shorts, eventually deciding that my bio racer shorts were more comfortable on long rides than my Castelli ones. So perhaps try some different shorts, a cheaper option than a rocker plate.

Shifting position also helped. I have a set of clip on TT bars on the bike I use on my turbo. I normally have them on there to train in that position, but for the knighthood it helped to b able to vary my position to relieve pressure.

Oh, and lot’s of chamois cream and change shorts a few times.

I would also second all of that. The only thing I would add, is definitely do the prep plan. I learnt a lot, especially on the 6 hour prep session 2 weeks out, about how to approach an endurance session of this magnitude on a turbo. I have done 10 hour plus rides outdoors, which whilst tough don’t prepare you for a few aspects of the knighthood. I hit a really low point on my 6 hour training ride, I just felt awful and thought I was bonking but just couldn’t stomach any food. I then released I was craving salty crisps, so had some and it sorted my right out. My original nutrition strategy was based on what works for me outdoors, but I failed to account for how much salt I would loose on an indoor trainer. Thankfully, due to doing the prep plan, I learnt that and didn’t make the same mistake on the day. I still had a horrible low point but not due to lack of salts; Haribo and a can of coke sorted that one.

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Thanks for sharing your experience. I had planned to roll directly into the prep plan following ToS, but I’m starting to feel worn down and am considering doing the post-ToS plan first. What do you think?

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I have the same thought. I think I’ll be doing the first week of the post plan, then rolling into the prep plan. I’m not sure if I’ll worry about a fresh #FF for my attempt, since I’ll be running reduced intensity anyway.

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I’ve decided to delay my KOS attempt until I know my rear end can survive 10 hours on the trainer. I’m also not sure gentleman of a larger persuasion like myself can realistically change bib shorts in 10 minutes :slight_smile: It’s a struggle!

I have learned about my indoor nutrition and hydration needs now so that’s one thing ticked off the list of preparation.

I’m enjoying the tour way too much. But I’m going back to a structured plan with appropriate rest/recovery after this. It feels like I’m making great progress by not killing myself every time I ride so why change when it’s working.

Martin

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Right on, Martin. KoS isn’t the goal: a strong, healthy body is the goal. KoS is just one of many roads to that destination.

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@fezzek, recovery is important! Suffer, recover, adapt, overcome!

I must say, the mental fortitude of anyone who does this is just tremendously impressive. I have been doing these videos since back when there were two to choose from, and I have NEVER EVER once seriously considered doing a Knighthood attempt. Ride all day outside? Awesome!! Start riding at midnight and ride until dusk? Brilliant!! Ride for 10 hours on my trainer?..

:- )

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@afolpe For me it was about 8 hours - the total time will vary depending on your video choices. The MTP program really helped get me to the finish. The statement on the KOS page Please see a doctor. You’re not right and are in desperate need of help is accurate and is probably why they suggest supporting a charity as part of your quest.

https://thesufferfest.com/pages/knights-of-sufferlandria

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What’s the current rule about documenting on social media? The rules on the website state that you’re supposed to announce your attempt, but it seems there are a lot more knights than there are threads on the forum about knighthood attempts. Are all the posts on Facebook instead? I don’t use Facebook…

I was thinking I might give it a try in April, if I can figure out how to improve my own saddle comfort issues. The earliest local bike fit appointment I could get was April, thanks to covid.

I will nod and agree with most of these.

Intensity is definitely personal. Do what gets you through it as long as you suffer.

Do multiple practice sessions where you ride 2 or 3 (or more) workouts in a row at reduced intensity. A lot of the workouts will feel a LOT different at reduced intensity. An interval workout that you fear because it breaks you at 100% intensity could end up giving you a lot of time out of the saddle to rest a sore bottom and also give you a lot of rest in between intervals. And while you may then doing an endurance ride at 70% intensity would be one long rest, it can actually cost you more energy as you could end up spending long stretches of 10-20 minutes (or more) without any real recovery. And what you think is recovery in a 1 hour workout is not the same as the recovery you will want in an 8-10 hour Knighthood attempt.

Variety is very important. I made sure to include at least 2 workouts from every category. At first I planned to do mostly climbing and endurance. Then I realized how much recovery I wouldn’t get while doing those long climbing videos. Unless you really want to suffer, make sure to put an interval video in between and climbing / endurance videos. I thought The Wretched at 70-75% would be a great way to recover in the middle before I hit harder videos towards the end. Instead it was a really long slog at too high of an effort to feel like recovery and ended up giving me tendonitis in both knees starting in the next video that took me 2 months to recovery from.

And +2 on the food and hydration. Definitely don’t rely only on water. I actively rationed out my water to drink no more than half a liter of water every hour. I primarily used 5L of Gatorade Endurance and drank half a liter of that each hour. I also pre-calculated all my carbs so that I ensured I would consume between 60-90g of carbs every hour. And while you may think sweet gels are simple, you will get tired of them quickly. Make sure you have a variety of foods and also plenty of salty snacks mixed in.

While you’re doing your long practice sessions, be mindful of the bibs and shorts you’re wearing. Invariably you will find a certain pair/pairs will feel best. I planned to change 2 or 3 times, but in the end I wore the pair that felt the best and ended up wearing them the entire time and just applying more chamois cream twice. That will likely be easier than trying to change in and out of sweaty bibs in less than 10 minutes.

All the pre-planning you can do will ensure the smoothest time on the day of your attempt. Because you will quickly experience brain fog and you don’t want a simple mistake to be the bane of your knighthood attempt.

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One thought I got when reading such posts here and Facebook is: Do not “overengineer” or “overplan” the whole thing and use your own experience you got so far, because it is YOU doing the challenge!

I did my KH in “solid” your of cycling, when I had already some miles in the legs, also had a couple of longer rides in the books. No SUF prep plan (doesn’t even exist at that time). Only indoor specific “experience” was a failed attempt four months before, with 3.5 ridden videos.

And my two cents on the video selection: Choose ones you LIKE. It doesn’t help if ANGEL as 8th video does make sense from the planning perspective, if it is one you absolutely hate!

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This is very true. My first step was to make a list and eliminate all the videos I didn’t like. Although back in the day there wasn’t really a choice, so this is a more current luxury from what I hear. Anyway, then I made sure to backload my playlist with the videos I liked the most and included one “nemesis” video to give motivation. That way when I was getting tired and ready to be done I would be doing the videos I enjoyed or that gave me the most energy.

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Reposting what I posted in the Facebook prep group here… The main other piece I would add is I do think that folks should try to raise money for a good cause (this seems to have fallen to the wayside in a lot of the Knighthood attempts I’ve seen lately…) - particularly given the origins of the Knighthood - British madman does all six videos for charity, gets Knighted, inspire – The Sufferfest

1) Trust the plan and plan your ride
So I did the KoS prep plan mainly because it was the only way I felt like I’d want to spend that much time indoor on the bike before the KoS itself. The tip to spend the 5hr training block the second weekend doing my first 5 videos was invaluable (thanks Sir David Branstetter) as I ended up pulling out one of the videos I had planned to do after it killed my legs. I also wouldn’t recommend doing that trial run at 80% unless you have legs of steel.

The only other thing from the training plan that I think I messed up is that the final taper week has Cadence Builds. I very much regret pushing super hard and going for max cadence on these rather than topping out at 140/150 - as I definitely felt that in my quads for the couple of days before the KoS.

I intentionally put GOAT at 6 because I knew it’d effectively be a recovery ride. That tiny bit of daylight by having two 45min videos in a row, the second of which was GOAT gave me a real boost for the final 4 videos. So think about when you’re likely to flag and plan accordingly.

2) Nutrition
Related to the above - doing the trial run let me try out nutrition for the day itself. For example - I got super nauseous on the trial and thought it was because I ate too much/drank too much nutrition drink. On my KoS after drinking half a nutrition drink and feeling nauseous I realized that was the issue so stopped - I still had to get through the whole thing with a not great-feeling stomach.

Having a mix of sweet/savory is great, and for me alternative rides hydration drink/plain water worked really well. I ate mostly real food the first half, and that helped a lot. I had lunch after ride 6 (bagel with cream cheese and salmon) and I mainly grazed after that on nuts/pita chips/dried apricots and fig bars.

I would see this is the part where it’s most important to try things and know your own body and listen to it during the KoS attempt.

3) General purpose tips

  • Have a ride day checklist - in spite of mine, I still managed to start ride 1 with all my liquids in the fridge not on the bike
  • An ironing board right next to you makes an awesome ‘things’ stand - food/drinks/phone for posting updates etc.
  • Have all your snacks within arm’s reach on the bike
  • Use warmups for things that matter less - posting photos to Facebook/drinks/small snacks
  • If other people are storming on the castle on the same day as you, say hello and connect beforehand. Knowing that Dame Andrea Houge was also suffering made my suffering in tandem a bit more bearable.
  • Having a treat for yourself after ride 9 helps you get to the end of ride 9 (chocolate chip cookie FTW)
  • Try to mix up how you use your breaks - i.e. try to have some where you do nothing at all other than stretch and walk around. I tried to consolidate my breaks into 3 types - recover, bathroom and change kit, and eating/refilling water bottles
  • Have a plan to charge anything you need to charge - I had a power bank beside me which was good for wireless headphones
  • Change kits as often as you like, I did three changes, and apply chamois cream liberally between videos
  • Make sure you don’t get too cold - I felt like I was burning a lot of calories w/ the windows open at 7am and felt a lot better as the day warmed up.
  • Have your own music available. By the end I needed all the tricks I had up my sleeve to stay motivated.
  • Lip balm is awesome for 10hrs in front of a fan, cycling glasses are great if you wear contact lenses and need to avoid dry eyes
  • Ride whatever cadence keeps the pedals turning - by the end of Bat (video 10) I had to dig in to ride at 110rpm as anything slower I thought my legs would stop
  • Get out of the saddle for 30 seconds at least every 20mins - this helped me keep real saddle soreness at bay until video 7
  • If you have a KICKR Climb, use it!
  • Ride for a cause - any time I thought about giving up, knowing why I was doing it made it easier to push through.
  • Nipple chafing is a thing

4) Expect the unexpected
Starting ride one without water was dumb but recoverable. What was worse was somehow slicing my finger open on the edge of the chamois butter tube 5mins into a break and suddenly having to deal with a bunch of blood and band-aids with 4mins to go before getting back on the bike. Try to keep a cool head, and if you need to, ask a Minion for help.

I had planned to do the entire ride on 75% but had some real nausea/stomach issues post-drinking the nutrition drink, so put Revolver down to 70% I felt immensely better after that and went back to 75% for the remainder.

Other than that, don’t be afraid to ask for help and advice in here. Everyone was super helpful to me before my attempt, and it made the whole thing possible.

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The Forum is relatively recent, so previous Knighthood attempts were documented on Facebook or other media (I’ve seen various live stream options as well). Mostly having something online helps when the going gets tough–you have a cheering squad rooting for you and that helps when you’re in a very dark place, which happens generally around videos 6-7 (even if you don’t choose that video). So when you go for it, post away on the Forum!

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I thought it was just me who was missing the charity links. I second having a charity to ride for. Knowing that I was riding to raise funds for a worthy cause definitely helped keep me on the bike through videos 6-8.

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