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Review: Sufferfest – The Downward Spiral Cycling Trainer Video

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A couple week’s back, Sufferfest’s owner David sent us a digital copy of The Downward Spiral.  The DS is his first trainer video (there’s a second one out called Fight Club that we’re getting ready to try), and it’s unlike any other trainer video we’ve seen.

First, it’s only available by download.  No DVD, packaging or shipping costs, just pay for the download and boom, there it is on your computer ready to be loaded onto an iPod, iPhone or other video-capable MP3 player.  Or, rip your own DVD and watch it however you please.  It’s optimized for the small screen, but it looks OK played on a reasonably sized flat screen (of course, my definition of reasonably sized is at least 50″).  There’s some pixelation at this size, but it’s tolerable.  This delivery method has built in savings, which are passed on to you. It’s only $9.49 US (€6.49), and there are club/class licensed versions for slightly more.

Second, it’s set in first-person POV and carries you through fast group rides and various pro races, most notably in Downward Spiral is racing over the cobbles at Roubaix.  It’s almost like you’re there.

Third, it’s highly entertaining in more ways than one.  The music rocks, and trying to think about whether I’d get tired of the same songs after watching it numerous times, my hunch is probably not.  Of course, I’d be mixing several other videos into the rotation to keep it fresh, but the music isn’t too trendy or common, so it shouldn’t sound stale after two or three rides.  Additionally, there are bits of, uh, motivation superimposed over the screen that keep it fun.  Since our heads were buried during some of the intervals, there’s likely plenty of bits that’ll be new to us over the next few viewings.

Comments and rating after the break…


Here’s Evan (left) and I before we started our Sufferfest.  Ambient garage temperature: 40º (and no, I don’t have a 50″ flat screen in my garage…just a 13″ color cheapy for watching workout vids, but I did test it on the Plasma just to gauge picture quality on a large scale.  I played it using a video-out cable from an iPhone.)


…and after.  Still about 40º, but we were sweating like dogs.  Wait, dogs don’t sweat.  Like pigs…


Setting: Tyler’s garage. Temperature: Not warm. Provisions: Bike, trainer, towel, water, T.V., and this video. Soon-to-be-crushed Spirit: Soaring. High intensity and interval training are crucial elements to upping your game as a cyclist, and I’ve been trying to find ways incorporate more of them into my training. Today was my day to do such rigorous exercise and not knowing exactly what to expect going into this session, I was on my bike doing the video’s warm-up then all of a sudden GO!

This video was an hour long and let me tell you, I’ve spent many a bored hour on a trainer and will refreshingly say, this was not one of them. This video brought the hurt until I felt like I was going to collapse. At one point that may have even happened but I was so pumped I didn’t even recognize the occurrence. From the race footage to the music, I was very impressed. It’s entertaining and cleverly assembled. Furthermore, the video is very well designed to give you a challenging and highly effective workout session. It makes you push your limits and begs you for more. Intervals? Yes intervals. Intervals on crack. I like the product; it gets me pumped about training and I look forward to using it again and again.


I echo Evan’s sentiments about the hour being anything but dull.  In fact, it made the workout feel short, and it made me want to go hard. I went all out on the intervals as prescribed, and my legs were hurtin’ for two days.  If your legs are hurtin’ for two days, you know it’s good.

The Sufferfest’s Downward Spiral trainer video actually makes a brutally hard indoor trainer workout *gasp* fun.  In fact, it almost makes you look forward to the next session.  Insane.  Five thumbs up!


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