If you already do indoor training, you have probably heard of Sufferfest and may even have some of their videos with titles such as “Hell Hath no Fury“, “Fight Club”, and “A Very Dark Place”. Sufferfest have amassed a dedicated following from cyclists around the globe. In collaboration with CyclingTips, their newest video, Elements of Style, is a change of tack. It shifts focus away from your cycling performance and tackles your riding efficiency by getting you into a better, more effective, and more powerful position on the bike.
Being a great cyclist requires you to bring together a number of components. There is the mental, the tactical, the physical performance, your riding efficiency, and your equipment (including bike fit). If you are missing one part, then you wont fulfill your potential.
Sufferfest videos to date concentrate on performance (and a touch of mental preparation) while the new Elements of Style cycle training video focuses upon the riding efficiency component.
I asked David McQuillen of Sufferfest Studios about the motivation for creating a new cycle training video format, “Wade Wallace [CyclingTips] and I were talking about how so many people have taken up cycling recently, but few really know anything about cycling form,” replied David. “They read about training and how to increase their fitness – but do very little to nothing about working on their form. So we wanted to change that and I think that Elements of Style is probably our *most* important video in terms of the contribution it can make to the cycling community.”
Lets take a look at the new video
Sufferfest provide their videos as a download in MP4 format, you can them up to run on your computer, a connected TV, a smart device such as iPhone, iPad or Android or other systems that allow you to watch the MP4. The intention, of course, is that you have your bike on an indoor trainer and can watch and listen while you ride.
The training component for the Elements of Style video is about 35 minutes and includes a short warm-up and warm-down. In its entirety this can very easily precede a longer indoor training session.
Elements of Style introduces, trains, and re-enforces the “Systems Check” concept. Without revealing all of the secrets, the Systems Check is a systematic process of creating a mental awareness of each part of your cycling technique, training each of these and, through reinforcement and repetition, it helps you to improve your overall technique and efficiency.
Elements of Style training video content overview with six drills
A well spoken narrator steps us through a serious of exercises. Within each segment the ’systems check’ is revised and eventually should translate to your on-road riding where you consciously and then subconsciously integrate the techniques. High cadence and low cadence exercises guide you through the techniques in different riding situations.
The visuals support the narration to guide you to better bike style
The end result is that you won’t bounce about, you will have a relaxed cycling style, you will have more power throughout your pedal stroke, and you’ll be able to focus your power more efficiently.
So where did the Systems Check concept come from? David McQuillen says “We spoke to several coaches about what makes great form and how that form degenerates when they get tired. There was a ton of advice – but it wasn’t easy to digest or package in a compact way. We felt that riders needed some kind of simple mental checklist they could go over when riding that would bring their body back into line when they’re out riding. And so the ‘Systems Check’ was born.”
The narration style injects the right amount of character; it isn’t over-done, and enough information is provided without it ever becoming over-bearing or awkward. The background music during training is well suited electronic dance and works well for setting the tempo for exercises with different intensities (though I won’t comment on the Hip Hop used for the warm-down).
The video footage was filmed on location in New Zealand, however it is not a scenic tourist video. The action concentrates on three cyclists who run through the techniques; ex-pro road cyclist Alan Iacuone, CyclingTips founder Wade Wallace, and MTB pro Cal Britten. The graphic information overlays are clear and professional; it is up to you, the viewer, to judge your own ‘effort’ and to make sure you are measuring cadence, since both of these are the key reference points for each exercise.
Pedal Stroke Drill with graphic overlay and reference points for cadence (90) and effort (5.0 = 50%)
While the video quality and presentation is professional, for some active sessions I expected to see the riders sprinting or racing but instead they were cruising; the footage didn’t always match the exercise. This is however the only criticism I had. Regardless of your abilities as a cyclist, the Elements of Style is a valuable training video. As a novice it can set you on the right path and get you into good form, the sooner the better. As a seasoned cyclist you may already have good style, and this video will help raise awareness and fine tune your action so that you are more efficient.
The Elements of Style is officially released today, and available as a download for USD 9.99 which is about $10.70 Australian. Visit Sufferfest for more: thesufferfest.com
Sufferfest have released a short promotion trailer to introduce the new video: