I did something yesterday in the embalming room of an old mortuary that we now call our cycling studio at Iron North Studio. The Sufferfest Knighthood Challenge.
This was my second time attempting the challenge, having completed it several years ago to earn the prestigious title of ‘Sir’. I struggled throughout the 10hrs to figure out my ‘why’. I had completed this challenge many years ago as a fundraising event through the gym, and that was the intent when my friend and I first committed to our #howtoruinasaturday. That option was taken away from us with our provincial government’s announcement (again) to close gyms, but we committed to each other nonetheless and Jan 22 was our date.
My effort started at 6am and was planned to last until 4pm… the challenge? 10 back-to-back cycling videos with no more than 10min rest between each. It’s a gruelling test of mind and body that didn’t disappoint.
- AVDP @ 70%
- The Bat @ 71%
- Attacker @ 72%
- Power Station @ 74%
- Thin Air @ 75%
- Defender @ 76%
- Who Dares @ 77% (the sprint efforts suuuuucked…)
- The Wretched @ 78%
- Nine Hammers @ 79%
- Angels @ 80%…then @ 77%… finished @ 75%…
Videos 1-4 went by quick enough… the effort for each video is reduced so these first few hours are well within my wheelhouse. The first 100km went by without a hitch, but having done this before I knew the pain was coming.
Videos 5-6 is where the mind wreaks havoc. Already 4 hrs in and not even half way. This is where I realised that this will be an effing long day. The butt starts to hurt, the wrists begin cramping, and the efforts are beginning to burn a little more. I pushed through as I knew this was only the onset of discomfort, with much more to come.
Videos 7-8 sucked. Physically I was spent, but there was still ~100km to go… that in itself would be a long effort on a trainer. This was the point where the thought of quitting came into play. “3 hrs still!? Why am I here?? What am I doing?? If I stopped now that’d be totally fine!”. Shut up mind.
Videos 9-10. While this was where i was supposed see the light at the end of the tunnel, it wasn’t. The seconds of every push effort crawled by and the recovery time just let me feel my sore ass even more. Two hours of hurt at levels I rarely get to, save for maybe a few of the tougher triathlons in my life.
The final video - Angels, chosen because it was the first Sufferfest video I ever did over 10 years ago and has always been a nemesis to me - proved a slog. My body was on autopilot while my mind was god-knows-where. I knew I’d finish, but the end couldn’t come soon enough.
Finally, when the challenge was complete we packed our bags, collected our gear and went home. No celebration, applause, medal ceremony… Just. Done.
I devoured some A&W on the way home to my family where my wonderful wife was preparing a great dinner and had a bath going for me (while I wouldn’t recommend an uncle burger and rings as a post ride recovery option, after 10hrs and 6500 calories that was my meal of choice and it was glorious. Zero regrets.)
All this to say… what is my why? Why do this to myself? I can say to prep for my summer Ironman, to build mental and physical resilience in a time when that has been pushed already, or just because. In the end, I needed this. I needed the deep calm that only extreme endurance can bring. When your body and mind are so depleted from physical exercise that everything just goes quiet. Everything is calm. Everything is good. It’s been a long time since my mind was at this state of calm, since my body didn’t have to ‘go’ to the next thing… and it’s a very good place to be, just unfortunate that it takes this much to get there apparently these days.
Enjoy fellow Sufferlandrians! For those taking on the challenge yourselves it’d be great to hear the rollercoaster of emotions that you experience along the way to Honour, Glory & Victory!