There are now six videos available to download from www.thesufferfest.com, including the latest 85 minute workout Local Hero, featuring footage from the 2010 World TT and Road Championships.
Turbo training is like penance for the racing cyclist, paying the price of boredom and tedium during the winter in order to be fighting fit when the summer season comes around. Fortunately for us David McQuillen – fed up with staring at the wall or listening to some hyped up fitness instructor – began creating the Sufferfest workout videos when training for an epic ride across Tibet and Nepal. Combining real race footage with a motivational soundtrack, it’s the best – if not the most painful – way to get through those winter turbo hours…
Give us a brief account of your cycling background. I started riding when I was 16. At first to get to the ice cream shop down the road. Which sort of defeated the purpose. But then my brother and I got into junior racing. Since then I’ve raced a bit, toured a bit, crossed Tibet on my bike, done cyclosportives in Europe and now ride road and mountain bike. And I commute by bike to work and back everyday.
I believe you now live in Singapore – what’s the cycling like out there? I moved here from Switzerland, which is probably as close as you can get to cycling paradise. I figured when I moved to Singapore, which is only tiny and has more than five million people in it, that I’d have to give up my bike. But since getting here, I’ve found an incredibly passionate, vibrant cycling scene that rivals any place on earth. It’s incredible. If you look out your window here at six o’clock on a weekend morning, you’d think the country was run by cyclists.
If you were to play a cyclist in the film of their life, who would it be and why? Who was the guy who got all the girls, drank and partied lots and won everything? I’ll be him.
What’s been your greatest achievement on a bike? Several years ago, I rode my bike from Lhasa, Tibet to Kathmandu, Nepal with a friend to raise money to fight illiteracy. That was a brutal ride, and the day we rode up to Mt. Everest base camp was the single hardest thing I’ve ever, ever done physically. It was brutal. I’m very proud of what we accomplished on that trip.
Power meter, heart rate monitor or perceived effort? I don’t care how you measure it, you should be suffering.
What led you to start making the Sufferfest videos? Living in Zurich, I had to train a lot through really miserable winters. So I spent a lot of time on spin bikes and turbo trainers. And I hated every single awful mind-numbing minute of it. I tried a lot of podcasts and ‘virtual cycling’ DVDs, but nothing helped. I remembered how I used to turbo train to old Tour de France videos, so I started doing that again, but this time organising them around structured workouts.
Have you always been a sadist? It’s not mean. It’s tough love.
How do you go about finding the music for the videos? After negotiating rights with race organisers, I think music might be the next hardest part about making Sufferfest videos. I love music. It means a lot to me. I can’t workout to bad music. But I can’t afford to license the kind of commercial music you hear on the radio. So I spend a tremendous amount of time listening to very, very bad music, trying to find those hidden gems by unknown artists that shouldn’t be and which end up on the ‘fest videos.
What is the best part of doing your job? I love the Sufferlandrians. They are just awesome. I get mail that says, “I hate you. I hate your videos. Go to hell. PS. Please make more.” That makes my day. And, of course, the creative process of making the videos. Designing the workouts, coming up with a story line, cutting the video, finding the music, assembling it all, letting the video take on a life of it’s own and I shape it – I just get lost in it. It’s my art. Art that hurts, though.
What can we expect next from the Sufferfest? You can expect more suffering.