Cycling DVD Review – Global Ride’s StrenDurance in Hawaii

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Dear Sufferfesters, you know how we feel about watching people ride spinbikes on a video podcast or DVD. It’s one thing to be in a class and feel the excitement and energy around you, and a complete other thing to watch a bunch of people ride bikes on your video iPod while you bore yourself to agony trying to focus on what the instructor is saying (See our reviews of Carmichael Training Systems and iFitGourmet).

Global Ride’s StrenDurance is one of two indoor cycling DVDs we received in Sufferfest Studios this week. Both DVDs leave the classroom behind and head out onto the open road, using first-person, “helmet cam” style footage for the video. This one is set in Hawaii.

Never been to Hawaii. But it’s always sounded like a nice place. And it wasn’t until we heard that Lance Armstrong did his training before the Tour Down Under in Hawaii that it ever entered our mind as a place to ride. And so, it was with much anticipation that StrenDurance was loaded into the iMac while climbing on the spin bike. After all,  on a cold, miserable, grey (and fairly typical) winter day here in Zurich, watching footage of the best climbs and roads in Hawaii should be a nice escape, eh?

And it was. The 50ish minute ride covers a nice climb, a good flat bit near the ocean, and then some rolling hills before concluding with a pleasant warm down. You can really push yourself hard on this DVD, and the more familiar you get with the footage, the better the workout gets.

Before you get started, though, you get to choose whether you want music or not, and whether you want an American, Australian or Italian coach, or want to listen into a “live” recording from Global Ride’s Spin Studio. You can also choose whether you want music on or off (having it off allows you to play your own tracks) and you can also have the coaching off (allowing you to design your own workout for the footage).

The scenery is great – lush climbs, big oceans, and wide open fast flats. The feel is pretty realistic, since the pace moves at about the pace you’d actully be going if you were on your (real) bike. With only a little imagination, you can put yourself in the picture. Occasional shots of a cyclist help the feeling out a bit more. It looked much nicer than the snowy trails of Uetliberg out our window.

We wanted to hear the coaching and music and since we just came back from Australia, we tuned in to Matty Reed. Matty, despite having an Australian accent, was a 2008 USA Olympian and National Champion (I suppose there’s an interesting story there somewhere) and he was my guide when I first started the workout. But it seemed Matty had the microphone taped directly to his mouth since you could hear all his breathing and a disturbing low bass when he mumbled (which he did rather too often..where is the enthusiasm, Matty?). He got switched off halfway through, as we simply couldn’t hear him clearly (now, before you Aussies say that we just don’t understand Australian, half of the Sufferfest Studio family is Australian – but come to think of it, we don’t always understand her, either…hmm).

Tuning it into the “Live” Spin Studio soundtrack, things instantly got better. The instructor, who we suppose is Global Ride Founder Gene Nacey, does a good job of getting the class wound-up (whoops! hollers! in the background), and gives good instruction. He clearly knows how to use the video to guide a workout, and we can see that if they used this DVD at our local gym’s spinning studio, we might show up more often (in fact, this DVD is probably best suited to a spinclass with an instructor who really knows how to use it). Anyway, back on topic – Sometimes Gene’s a bit hard to hear amid the noice of the class,  but he’s effective for the most part and got us caught up in the excitement of the class cheering – even though we were riding alone in our office. This track ended up being our favorite, and is one we’ll return to a few times over this winter indoor season.

We took a quick listen to the American coach, Sally Edwards (Triathlon hall of fame). She’s a lot clearer than Matty (even though the mic also seems to be a bit close to her mouth and she fades in and out) and the instruction is better – and if you know her heart zones concept, she refers to it often, which gives some guidance on the effort you should be making. About halfway through, though, you can start hearing (what sounds like)  her bike, which is a bit distracting.

The music is very good. More generic stuff is what you typically get on these kind of DVDs, but the tracks are pretty authentic techno dance stuff, and set the right tone for the workouts. Well worth listening to. The DVD has a “bonus” section, which is a 30 minute strength training session using weights and a mat.

This was the first effort from the Global Ride team, and they have a new Italian series coming out soon. Here’s the promotional clip for those keen to get a look at what this DVD offers: