Review – Endurance Films: Rides New York – Assault on Bear Mountain

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.



  • Jason

    I own all of their videos too. I use these when I teach aerobic endurance type classes. The interval, speed and hills are when ‘The Fest’ videos come out and the hurting begins :-)

  • Briann

    I live in the Harriman area and was hoping for an exciting ride. It is a difficult workout but as you say, the riders and overall drive of the video presenation does not excite. Used it twice and am back to the Sufferfest. The 30 minute Extra Shot is the latest and is great.

  • Jonathan

    You/they lost me at “mirrors attached to their helmets”…

    Congrats on the Sufferlandilito/Sufferlandilota!

  • jhernand

    It seems to me that you have no idea of the cycling background of the participants in this video. To educate you in this matter, please note that I’m going to have over 12,000 miles ridden this year and that, last year, I completed the Trans-Alps Challenge (see Thomson Bike Tours for details). Follow me (Jesus Hernandez) and other participants in Strava (under Trianglecyclists or Huntington Bicycle Club). Your perception of us will change. Come to New York and ride Harriman Park/Bear Mountain before you talk. It is a difficult route and spectacular.

    • bvduck

      Jesus! I’m absolutely positive that The Huntington Bicycle Club has got
      some incredibly strong members. Having done the TransAlp myself, I know
      how hard it is and so have a lot of respect for what you’ve
      accomplished and for the volume of riding you’re
      putting in. I’m sure if I went riding with you guys, I’d get shelled
      pretty quickly! My point in the review was that folks didn’t ‘look’
      terribly strong – and in a video that’s meant to motivate the viewer to
      push themselves hard, the appearance does matter. To me, that was a
      negative in how the video played out. And I’m sure the course is
      difficult — having ridden in NY (I’m from PA, originally), I know all
      about that difficult, variable terrain. The limitations of video,
      however, will never provide the full experience. Of course, it’s a
      review, which means it’s the personal opinion of the writer (me). I know
      plenty of folks for whom these kind of videos are great, and that’s why
      I include them on our resources page so that, when the ‘fest videos
      might not be appropriate, there are other options from them to choose
      from. – David McQ, The Sufferfest

  • Greg

    I just finished this video tonight, and love it. I do agree with David that appearance is everything. And the riders look sluggish (probably drop me pretty fast in real life). It would be nice to sync the riders cadence and efforts a little closer to the coach. I use only sufferfest and Rides videos as they compliment each other so well. I use kinetics rock and roll with “InRide” power meter. Never get bored. Jesus, I love your comment “get out and ride!” Tomorrow is my recovery day and found a new favorite Suffferfest: “elements of style”. Everyone can benefit from this one. It tricks your brain to focus on 360 degree pedaling every time you ride. It really helped tonight!