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Full Frontal

I have done FTP tests numerous times over the years. It comes with the territory if you are interested in improving your performance on a bike. FTP gives you a number and you base your training effort against that number.

I hate FTP tests. They are really awful. You ramp up through a progressive warm-up and then you go as hard as you can for twenty minutes.

Twenty minutes, full out on a trainer, pushing hard watts, can seem like an eternity.

The Sufferfest, my preferred service provider of pain and agony, introduced a different fitness test called Full Frontal.

I did the test on Sunday.

Makes sense that I am a “pursuiter” rider type. I do chase other cyclists when I am out on the road.

The Full Frontal test exceeded my expectations for pain and suffering. It was the hardest thing I have done on a trainer. Ever.

I’ll now start a new 12-week training program based on the four dimensional power profile — as if training by FTP alone wasn’t hard enough.

Here are the gory details about the fitness test in case you are interested.

Kitchen Sink

All through the day Sunday I felt the fatigue. Major fatigue.

I really was not looking forward to this particular test of endurance. But there it was: stage 9. Everything and the Kitchen Sink.

I dialed the intensity to 80%. Which turned out to be a wise decision. By the time I got through the second hour, I wasn’t sure that I could ride this stage out to the finish.

And the intervals in the last segment, the toughest part of the Downward Spiral, was simply cruel and unusual punishment.

Every minute seemed like an eternity.

But I wasn’t going to quit. And I did not.

I crossed the victory line. Battered and broken. Which I guess was the point of this tour.

I’ll recover. A few days off the bike now. Basking in the glow that comes from taking on a particularly challenging target and seeing it done.

Butter and Thin Air

And the last two stages of the tour began with Butter + Thin Air. A two-hour effort where I started at 95% and dialed the intensity back to 85%.

I came off the bike uncertain as to how I would finish the final, brutal three-hour stage that followed on the Sunday.

Suffer, suffer, suffer.

The Chores

Another stage completed at 100% intensity.

Definitely felt the cumulative impact of back-to-back high intensity efforts.

I had no choice but to dial the intensity back for the week-end.

Do As You’re Told

Got through Stage 6 at 100%. It was tough but short. I can handle high intensity workouts when they are only 40 minutes or so. It is the long, punishing high intensity efforts that scare me. Like Stage 9. Three hours of suffering.

I can hardly wait.

Bereda Training has a great post on how to withstand the misery of the Tour of Sufferlandria. If you haven’t seen the metrics that most cycling enthusiasts use to track their workouts, then it may come as a bit of a shock to see all of the data underneath the misery.

I don’t need all of that data to know that the Tour is miserable. I can feel the misery!

The only way to withstand the misery of the Tour is to finish all of the stages. And I will finish all of the stages.

A vomit bucket might help though for when it gets too miserable.

Stage 7 awaits this evening.

Fight Club

Broken.

You can see how this nasty workout progresses with five discrete high intensity efforts that run six and a half minutes each. I got through the first one at 100% intensity and I knew that there was no way I could finish the workout at that level. Not with the cumulative impact of the past 4 stages.

I did the second one at 95% intensity. Almost didn’t finish.

Down to 90%. And then 85% for the balance.

Awful. Just awful.

I felt broken coming off the bike. Probably wasn’t help by a stressful day at the office. I came into the workout with a poor attitude. Sufferfest videos are largely a mental game. Physically I can get through them. Mentally, though it can be tougher. Much, much tougher. Must stay in the moment.

This is a powerful video and well worth the 20 minutes if you are into endurance sports although it readily applies to other areas of life. The Ted talk is described this way:

Mind over Matter? Ned Phillips explains the idea of peak performance in what he calls ‘the power of now’. His entire career, he never realized the importance of the mind until he partook in endurance races, in which the realization struck, your mind has to take over, and focus not on the past, not the future, but only the present, and naturally your body will follow.

The Trick

A bit late getting my stages posted to the blog. Stage 4 was held two days ago. I did Stage 5 yesterday and Stage 6 is coming up in a few hours.

Like Stage 3, I was able to tackle Stage 4 at 100% intensity. The recovery times were long enough that I didn’t have that much trouble with the session. Not as easy a spin as Stage 3. Not anywhere near as difficult as the first two stages.

I am definitely feeling the effects of all the spinning on consecutive days. I generally spin 2 or 3 days on and 1 day off. And I always follow plans that are a bit more balanced than the Tour of Sufferlandria (e.g., hard rides followed by recovery rides versus mostly pain and suffering rides).

What will Stage 5 be like?

Never a good idea to think about Sufferfest videos in advance.

Time to Zwift

Most of my riding is now taking place indoors. Increasingly with Zwift.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I still love the Sufferfest videos but they are a very different experience. Zwift feels a lot more immersive to me especially now with group workouts.

And, if I am going to get on a bike at 6am to ride hard for an hour or more, immersive is good.

I just started a 12-week program and that should prepare me well for the ultimate pain and suffering indoors: the Tour of Sufferlandria.

That nasty little event will be coming up in early February.