Anyone wanna fight? Fight Club is live

There’s a long story to the creation of Fight Club, but I’ll give you the short one.

Back in September, I made the three hour train ride from Zurich down to the world championship road race in Mendrisio back in September. While there I met up with the UCI while there to discuss how we might structure the rights to their races. Nicole and Tobias, my contacts at the UCI, were open minded about what I was trying to do, enthusiastic about The Sufferfest and eager to come up with something. And, as the race unfolded that day, I was sure that there was going to be some great footage for a Sufferfest.

As I took the train home, I already started sketching out some ideas, and over the next few weeks, had further discussions with the Nicole and Tobias about how we could make this work. A quick visit to their headquarters in Aigle, perhaps the only office building in the world with a velodrome just off of the reception desk, resulted in a final agreement and a signed contract to get to work.

The fine folks at cycling.tv, who work with the UCI to broadcast their races online, provided me with the footage that I needed (and a little bit of commentary thrown in) and I set about stitching the workout I designed together with the race action. When I first started working with the footage, I had a concept about some really structured climbing sessions and even named the video ‘Berg! Attack!’ in advance of the release. But as I played with the video and found the best segments of action, the thing started to take on a different shape. A different personality. The race wasn’t lending itself to something really structured – the last lap of the race was messy, it was brutal and it was desperate. It also provided an incredible moment of inspiration in those shots of Cadel Evans hurtling down the final kilometer, motorcycle camera trailing behind him.

The thing took on a life of its own. I almost felt like the video was designing the workout! As I started to cut in the footage from the time trial world championships, which had some equally stunning action, I found myself with an aggressive, attacking creation. The scene of Cunego attacking was one of my favorites – a last-gasp attempt to show that he did deserve to be the Italian capitan, even as the race slid from his grasp. It duplicated itself again and again as the final video took shape, introducing an element of spontaneity, nervousness and, for the person sitting on the trainer, fear of when the next attack would come.  It became a race – structured, with clear obstacles, but unpredictable and spontaneous – something that would sap the last bits of energy out of you.

When I stepped back and tried the video draft out for the first time, it was clear that Berg! Attack! wasn’t right. This wasn’t just about climbing, it was about all sorts of efforts – time trialling, pack riding, climbing, attacking. It was punchy, hard and in your face. And it became exactly what an hour on the trainer should be: exciting, interesting, something that keeps you guessing and involved. At the very least, it wasn’t something you could say is boring! Fight Club was born.

With the main parts of the video together, I turned to the other parts. Getting the bits for the recovery sessions was easy – I knew I had to have some of the gorgeous shots from the Col du Glandon descent that Markus at Cyclefilm.com had shot for his Marmotte DVD. I asked Markus if that would be ok with him, and he quickly provided me with a beautiful descent. For the warm-up, I had found a very nice video of a bike ride along the Yarra river in Melbourne by one of my friends on the Daily Mile. Of course, I had to have it because of the basket. Janeen, who also takes and posts some of the most beautiful photography over at ridebyshooting.com graciously allowed me to use her clip.

When you can’t afford big commercial music, getting a good soundtrack is hard work. The tracks for the Downward Spiral took me forever to assemble, and putting together the playlist for Fight Club was filling me with dread. I wanted to do a techno/dance/trance soundtrack since TDS was all alt-rock, but I was nervous because there was a lot of crap electronic music out there. But, headphones on, I listened and listened and listened, working my way across some really talented artists and pulling together a track list that I’m really pleased with.

The night before release, I did Fight Club for one last time. I barely made it through it and considered taking a few of the attacks out. But I know how you like pain and that you deserve to suffer. It’s your right. I hope you enjoy it.