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The Sufferfest: your ultimate guide

The Sufferfest
(Image credit: The Sufferfest)

What is The Sufferfest and how does it work?

True to its name, it's a potentially brutal indoor cycling app, prioritising your development as an athlete rather than letting you have fun in virtual riding worlds with friends.

What distinguishes The Sufferfest from most of its rivals is the fact that science guides its methodology, instead of an immersive virtual-user experience. There aren't clever graphics or the option to upload and create your own routes.

The Sufferfest has instead invested its resources to create the ultimate indoor cycling coach for you. It shuns the group dynamics of many other virtual-training apps, but can deliver a world of pain and real gains for committed users.

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How much is The Sufferfest?

Beyond the 30-day free trial period, you'll be obliged to subscribe at either US$14.99 a month or US$129 per annum, with that yearly subscription calculating to a discount of US$50.

How to get started

Register an account and then simply download the appropriate app for your device (macOS, Windows, iOS). If you're an Android user, you'll have a problem, as the Sufferfest app for that interface is still in a beta development stage.

What equipment do I need?

You need a smart turbo trainer to connect your bike to (one with the ability to transmit data via ANT+ or Bluetooth), which you can find at our guide to the best turbo trainers, or a smart bike. Although Wahoo now owns The Sufferfest, it will also support smart trainers made by BKool, CycleOps, Elite, JetBlack, Kurt Kinetic, Minoura and Tacx.

The Sufferfest brings all the challenge of your biggest outdoor training ride into the living room. 

The Sufferfest brings all the challenge of your biggest outdoor training ride into the living room.  (Image credit: The Sufferfest )

All the courses and rides

The Sufferfest has 54 diverse training videos, across a spectrum of cycling, running and strength training. It shows the triathlon roots of the programme, and these are supplemented by an additional 30 yoga edits, specially targeted at cyclists.

What The Sufferfest lacks in terms of broad real-world roads and avatar gameplay, it balances with a range of videos that comprehensively address every aspect of your development to become a better cyclist.

There are real-terrain riding videos, mostly of the French countryside, and even official Grand Tour footage, where you will find yourself virtually in the peloton whilst training. Onscreen text prompts keep you aware of what kind of punishment is about to commence, and if the video training footage is not to your liking, you can revert to any television stream you like, whilst retaining the training status sidebar.

Best Sufferfest training and racing

Once you're familiar with the system, your journey starts with a passport to pain. All the key riding metrics are contained in your Sufferfest passport: heart rate, cadence and power data are always easy to access and empower your awareness regarding athletic progress. 

There is no other virtual training system that offers the individual development potential of The Sufferfest. In total, there are more than 100 virtual training schedules for a variety of cycling disciplines: road, cyclo-cross and even mountain biking. The Sufferfest's unique offering is the way it uses your baseline power output data to plan and facilitate training regimes.

The Sufferfest harvests data in four dimensions to build a 4DP profile, which is a more accurate idea of your specific strengths and weaknesses. The Sufferfest regards this method as superior to the traditional functional threshold power (FTP) test, and generating your 4DP profile takes an hour, allowing the algorithm to measure power out at various angles and time intervals.

The Sufferfest will assign you one of six rider profiles as a result of your 4DP score: sprinter, attacker, pursuiter, time trialist, rouleur or climber. Your workouts can also be spread across eleven categories: base, climbing, drills, endurance, fitness tests, mashups, racing simulation, recovery, speed building, style/form and time trial. 

For riders who thrive on group dynamics and competition with others, especially when virtual motivation is required, The Sufferfest will be testing. It is about you, on your own. There are excellent mindfulness exercises, too, to develop cognitive coping ability during training – which should pay great dividends when you get out and race on the road again.