A Very Dark Place

They say its better to regret something you have done that something you haven’t.  I kept that in mind when I volunteered to give the new training video from the the sufferfest a ride.

I started riding sufferfest just under a year ago and to be honest I think they’re the best indoor bike vids out there. No cheesy coach or gym filled with happy smiley people, sufferfest knows the mindset of its audience and what they want – its in the title. There are now a few of the vids out there,  each providing a different kind of structure, they all share one common feature though; they hurt. A lot.

I got a bit worried by the fact the new vid was called ‘A Very Dark Place’. I mean, each one of these vids gets you sweating and hurting like you didn’t expect- so when they decide to take you to A very Dark Place, I have no doubt they’ll manage it.

This pain comes in the same format, with pro and amateur race footage, on screen instructions and the same audio cues*. The recipe for a very dark place is repeats of :

From experience I know that by about half way you forget this and just do what you’re told, hoping it’ll be over sooner.

From the gun (literally a gunshot), a dark place sets the tone. No baskets in the warm up of this one; straight to a race from a national team. So that’s how its going to be. Then to a night time crit and then…Well I’m not going to spoil it all, but rest assured that the quality produced from the sufferlandrian ministry of agony continues to get better.

The footage from the crits and smaller races is of really high quality. This tends to be from the riders perspective. The UCI stuff is of a good quality too, taken from tv footage from the race itself, usually using multiple camera angles.

In the older videos the decent footage can become a bit repetitive in the rest sessions, but I couldn’t say that about AVDP. In fact in this video I don’t think I saw the same bit of a race twice, so a big win there.

You'll be praying for this after about 30 mins

The soundtrack is a nice blend of rock and indie, which does match the pace and intensity of the video well, with the timing really tight to the sessions.

One new feature is that, as well as the pain-o-meter and cadence on screen, you’re also given some instructions about when you should be out the saddle and when to sit and suffer:

you might as well stand now, because you won't be able to after

[I rode this on rollers, the sections where you've got to stand can be a bit tricky on rollers, especially further in  when you're already tired and your balance is lagging. To be honest its kind of fun, but worth bearing in mind if you're on rollers]

The commentary on screen is the usual fun/daft stuff that helps direct the ride and break it up a bit and, as ever, it works. I would say it’s better integrated with whats actually happening in the races in AVDP, which really helps with the engagement -there’s no chance of zoning out on this.

Theres a definite love/hate relationship with the sufferlandrian directeur sportive


How to summarize on A Very Dark Place? I rode it at about 8pm last night. It took till 11am this morning for me to recover enough to write about it, the trainer mat is still wet and I don;t think my downstairs neighbours like me anymore.

*I swear I now have a twitch everytime I hear a motorbike rev  - thanks!

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