With the third little Sufferlandrian now arrived in Sufferfest HQ just under a week ago, the idea of going out for a long road ride is just a distant memory. So, in order to maintain some kind of fitness, I’ve been forced onto the trainer more often than normal these days. Now, naturally, I’ve got a full collection of Sufferfest videos. But I think all Sufferlandrians will agree that variety is the spice of suffering – and luckily I’ve got a bit of a backlog of cycling workout videos from other providers to review. The other day it was CYCLEFILM’S great first entry into training films, and today it was the new one from Endurance Films’ Ride series – New York: Assualt on Bear Mountain. It’s a 75 minute workout based on a loop of Harriman State Park somewhere in New York (if you don’t live in New York, then I suppose it doesn’t really matter where it is, does it?).
The video is very similar to that produced by EpicPlanet and GlobalRides in that it takes a real world cycling loop and turns it into a ‘virtual’ indoor ride in which you cover that loop by watching other people ride it.
Now, I’m going to come straight out with my biggest issue with this DVD. Throughout the video, you follow a group of riders who are doing the Bear Mountain course. All due respect to the Huntington Bicycle Club, of which about 10 members feature in this video, but none of them look terribly strong. A few of them have mirrors attached to their helmets. A woman is wearing a jersey that is about three sizes too big for her. Another is only wearing one earring. Sigh. And while I’m sure they had a great ride, none of them look like they even worked up a sweat while doing the route. So, when the workout is asking you to do a level 9/10 on a climb and the rather overweight guys in the club you’re following on the video look like they’re having a nice day out, it’s very, very hard to be motivated to kick your own ass. The route is also rather unspectacular – while, in real life, I’m sure it’s brilliant, on film it just comes across as a nice ride in the woods. It’s no journey over the Alps, that’s for sure.
So. That aside, there are some positives about this DVD. First, the on-screen dashboard is probably as clear as it gets among similar products. There are others that are more flashy, but this one has the important information nice and big: current recommended perceived exertion level and time left in the interval. There is also a continually displayed countdown timer for the entire workout so you know just how much longer you have to go (which, frankly, I didn’t like because it made me wonder whether I could actually finish the workout – and is one of the reasons why I don’t have them in the ‘fest videos….if you don’t know how long you have to go, you have to keep going.).
The voice-over coaching is also quite good. Probably the best of the videos that we’ve watched here in Sufferfest Studios. It’s clear, with good instructions and I liked the frequent reminders to hold good form. That really helped me focus on what I was doing in moments when I was getting distracted with the suffering. However, when things got hard, the coach did struggle to get the enthusiasm up to encourage me to really push it and it felt like he wasn’t really into the game.
Lastly, the workout. It’s hard. After a very short warm-up, you’re straight into some big efforts and even the descents don’t let you go under a 6/10 on the RPE scale. That means a pretty heavy effort throughout the entire 75 minutes. I found it a little confusing that they would have several different kinds of efforts in one ‘interval’, but I still ended up working quite hard over the course of the workout. The only issue here is that, again, the efforts of the riders on screen really did not match the effort being called upon by the workout, making me feel that I was very alone in what I was doing.
Overall, while this is proably a step above GlobalRides, and about on par with EpicPlanet, it’s not quite the motivating package that I was hoping for. I’ve put this DVD back on the shelf until I’m in need of something different. Sufferlandrians looking for a diversion for base building or a high overall effort level climbing workout might also want to check it out.