Michael Hanslip Coaching

If you want to go faster, you have to pedal harder

Sufferfest & SYSTM

Several years ago now I spent much of my summer riding time on a smart trainer in my (hot) backyard testing a half-dozen or so smart trainers in prep for an autumn buyer's guide on smart trainers. I tried them all in Zwift - which was the main program for use with a smart trainer that I knew of at the time. After the article was published I got an email from someone at The Sufferfest. I had seen a Sufferfest DVD. I didn't know they had migrated into online smart training. They wanted to know why I had used Zwift and they offered me 6 months free Suffering if I would provide some coaching feedback on what I experienced.
Unlike Zwift, Sufferfest had pre-programmed drills developed by an experienced coach, set to pro racing cinema as a back drop. There was a whole mythology built around Sufferfest - riders from Sufferlandria and Couchlandria, laser-eyed goats that picked off slow riders at the back of the bunch, and so on. It was quite funny and promoted suffering for one's "art". Having Zwifted for a while, I paid for a subscription to Sufferfest (which is now 2+ years ago).
Progress was slow. One new video was cause for celebration. I found the videos to be of high production values - and getting higher. When they added the ramp test for a quick fitness test (to go with the longer and harder full test they have had for some years) it used very clever programming that used results from earlier in the drill to program power levels later on (a first for Sufferfest).
In reply to that free period of use, I sent Sufferfest many pages of feedback. Some general, like they should have some recovery rides on offer (it isn't all about suffering) and some specific, like I suggested a specific drill based on the work of Dr Tabata and thought they should have something similar on offer. All my suggestions are now incorporated in their product - glad to see they listened!
Then Wahoo purchased the company. Wahoo makes my smart trainer - the KICKR (they love capital letters and dislike vowels). And a pandemic hit. Loads of people must have signed up to Sufferfest, encouraging development. Scores of new videos and new video styles appeared. There are now 300 exercises for riders. The name became SYSTM. With new investment and new subscribers came loads more videos. Some were delivered without a video so it would be available for riding and eventually the video backdrop would follow (just an expediency to get them out there in the wild).
SYSTM immediately downplayed the whole suffering thing.
At the end of each Sufferfest video was the Sufferlandrian flag and motto (IWBMATTKYT - I think - stands for I Will Beat My Ass Today To Kick Yours Tomorrow) appeared with the copyright notice. These were changed to SYSTM ones. No references to Sufferlandria or suffering were made in new videos. I know the whole suffering thing dissuaded a friend from subscribing because he thinks of cycling as an enjoyable activity. I find it a bit bland.

Can't argue with a good product however.

And as of the end of April, RGT was added to the Wahoo family and made available to subscribers as part of Wahoo X. RGT is much like Zwift, without all the human traffic (When I tried Zwift it had one active world at any given time - though you could force change the world in play - and hundreds of humans riding in that world regardless of time of day) because it hasn't got the popularity of Zwift. RGT uses real places. As far as I can tell, they are accurately modelled in the digital realm too. Instead of screaming down a hill at 90 kmh and railing corners like a game, RGT tries to make it more realistic but I still zoomed around corners at 55 kmh that probably couldn't be ridden at that speed by anyone. It is trying. It does apply brakes. RGT also offers fixed power output "bots" anyone can use to pace themselves with. With only (approx) 10 riding locations and the locations typically short (10-20 km) Wahoo is going to have to build more worlds to keep my interest. For now it is an unexpected bonus.

My Wahoo X subscription expires in the Spring. I am definitely going to consider my options before I renew my account. It is good. It isn't perfect.