Socializing the summit of my Mt. Sufferlandria


I got a story for you.

I am a new member of the Sufferfest community. I am very grateful to be here. After three tries, I got the “ok” on my Full Frontal test, and I’m now on the 2nd week of the All Around 12 week training plan. I added Yoga and Mental Toughness.

The mental toughness program tells me to socialize my goal. So, here it is:

I’m going to bust my ass to the top of the Passo di Stelvio from Bormio in under 1 hour, 45 minutes.

If you want to know why or just feel like reading a lot more words, this is why.

I have history with the Stelvio. In the Summer of 2010 I took a trip with two friends to cycle some of the iconic climbs of the Giro - the Stelvio, both ways up in a day and the Mortirolo + Gavia in a day. There were others, but those were the big ones. I got a personal trainer to help get me prepared. I put in the work but improvement was minimal. I thought it because I was old or stressed or not putting in enough effort.

I arrived in Bormio eager to tackle the Stelvio. The day of suffering was a short-lived shit-show. I only got a couple of miles up the road before I had to tell my friends to go ahead. I tried to keep going but something felt really wrong. I was getting dizzy, feeling light-headed, couldn’t find a pace for sustained effort. So, I turned back and sat in my hotel room trying to understand what was happening. I decided it was an acclimation problem that would be better the next day. I told myself: this will be hard; you will suffer; but you are going to do it. I set out the next day to do it.

That day was the maximum amount of physical and mental suffering I had experienced in my life up to that point. I was at full maximum effort. I was gasping for air, blacking out, dizzy and light-headed on all the ups. My body was yelling at me, something is wrong. But I was in grind mode. I was not kind to myself. I was not compassionate with myself. I said I was going to do it. No negotiation. Later that week, I rode the Mortirolo + Gavia. Same experience. Something was definitely wrong with me.

It took a full year plus a few months after returning from that trip to learn what was wrong with me. I learned I had a fatal, progressive lung disease that was turning my lungs into scar tissue. That’s why I couldn’t breathe. It’s called Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis. At the time of diagnosis, you are given 3 to 5 years. No one gets better, and no one survives. It was a death sentence. The reason I was in such bad shape on the climb was that my disease restricts the ability of my lungs to oxygenate my blood. Two things exacerbate that problem: physical exertion and elevation. Two things you will absolutely encounter on the Stelvio.

My disease continued to get worse. Slowly, then rapidly. Ultimately I needed to be on machines to breathe. I tried to maintain an exercise program on rollers and a rowing machine. I could spin at little to no resistance while taking in 10 liters/minute of continuous flow of oxygen. I accepted my death. I grieved my own death. I have a beautiful wife and three precious children. Dying is an unmistakable feeling. And it sucks.

The only thing that would save my life is a transplant. But it’s not a cure. 50% of lung transplant recipients are dead in 6 years post-transplant. In 2019 I was put on the transplant list at University of Washington in Seattle. I received a double lung transplant on 14 February 2020. Receiving a lung transplant in what was then the epicenter of the Covid pandemic is a whole other story in itself. But I’m here. I’m alive. I feel great. I am just so damn happy to be alive and breathing. And my heart is overflowing with love for life.

I am able to push myself again. It brings me immeasurable joy and happiness. Suffering of this kind is a privilege. It is a blessing that tells me I am alive.

So I have to go back to the Stelvio. I have to do it right. I have to do it with love for my donor. I have to do it because I need to heal from that day. I need to suffer through it not because I’m dying but because I am alive.

That’s why. Thank you for reading this far.



Chapeau. Your story is inspiring! And your Mt Sufferlandria sounds awesome. So when are you going to do it? I hope you will post updates along the way


Thank you for responding. I’m thinking of doing it sometime between mid-July and mid-September 2022. I will share updates.


An inspiring story. Thank you for sharing it. I look forward to watching you accomplish this.


This is an amazing story, @David_Terry. Very inspirational. Please keep us posted and be sure to add photos! Wishing you all the best on your trip to the top of your Mt Sufferlandria!


David, my heart is full after reading your story. With the utmost sincerity, I wish you glorious Suffering and stunning Victory.


My god, David. I just can’t even with you. Your courage and commitment are flat-out humbling. I don’t have enough hats to tip, brother. And now I feel really guilty not going for that last additional on the ramp in Half Monty.


And to hear U-Dub played a role…aww. Makes me homesick. Huskies doing me proud.

Good on you.


That’s a great story, very inspiring.

Good luck with Stelvio, it’s a brute of a ride. A few years back we rode up Stelvio via Umbrail Pass, down in to Bormio then up over Gavia. It was hellish hard work without a lung transplant, nevermind with one!!

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Your story makes me humble and grateful. I can’t imagine how you felt/feel, but I can imagine how your wife feels. I do know how it feels when you think your significant other is about to die 6months to 3 years out. (Everything is fine with her now, because we had a 1 in a 1k luck). Buy her flowers and give her a kiss (yes, I know you did this already last week, but still :wink:)
While I do understand that you have to tackle the stelvio from Bormio, give it also a shot from Prato the next days when your already down there (doesn’t have to be in 1:45, the ride from Prato is just beautiful)


@David_Terry incredibly inspiring and thank you for sharing. I reckon every Sufferlandrian will be willing you on as you bust your badass to the top of the Stelvio!!!

Is that all you got @David_Terry ? Seriously though, HOLY SH!& . I gotta say I got a little choked up here (no pun intended). WOW! Really inspirational. You can count on me to jeer and heckle you to the top of the Stelvio, a beast I have only done virtually. Also, for the record, Welcome to Sufferlandria. You can never leave :slight_smile:


I don’t mean to make light of a clearly very serious situation and I am glad for you @David_Terry that you have done so well in your recovery but I must write that all these comments relating to a double lung transplant as “inspiring” must be contenders for unintended pun of year award.



A+. I appreciate the humor. It’s the only adequate response to dying.


Oh, you are right about the other side. I don’t think I mentioned that the first time I did it, after making the summit from Bormio, I descended the Umbrailpass into Switzerland and then came up via Prato. I remember being head down, crawling, heaving, but taking a second to look around and noticing how epically beautiful it is. Looking forward to seeing those mountains again.


Progress update: I’m on the 3rd week of the 12 week All Around training plan. Today I encountered Nine Hammers. I got it done with good form. I had nothing left in the last 90 seconds of the ninth hammer.

I"m pushing through a lot of doubt about my goal. I’ve been estimating speed, power and power/weight ratios needed to complete my goal. I have a long ways to go. But I guess that’s what goals are for. My sustained power has to improve at least 100 watts. Is that insane? I know I can help it by safely losing weight, which I will do. But what range of sustained power increases do people experience? And over what periods of time? I’m starting at a relatively low base, so maybe the improvement will be significant. I’m just going to keep pedaling.


Don’t overthink it.

My personal Mt. Sufferlandria is going to take a lot of work, but I am slowly making progress. I did set myself some intermediate goals along the way.

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Hi David,

Thats quite a story you got. It’s these kind of stories that give extra motivation to beat my own ass.
It is amazing to see it is even possible to work toward such a goal on a double long transplant.
As for your target, and I know I cant compare this probably, but i started out in March, and my first Half Monty gave me an FTP of 175, which was in line with what i got from some other trainer app.
Now I started with the free trial plan, did the full frontal preparation so i could start a real plan, which i just finished yesterday. Got my FTP up to 222 now, well thats nearly 50 points in 4 months.

So, given you got more than a year to train for your event, and the willpower you have, why wouldn’t that be possible? I believe you can!

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@David_Terry Not insane - I was up about 80 watts in about a year after starting SUF. Gains in the beginning can come fast and then they definitely get harder to achieve. I peaked a few months ago and have since dropped a few watts but will make another push after race season.

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This is an amazing story and we all want to see that Stelvio trip successful! I myself have ridden the Stelvio three times, twice from Prato, once from the Bormio side. I recall having a coffee after one of the rides from Prato and watching other cyclists come in. There was a small group of Americans who stopped in front of me and I chatted with them for a bit. Then I realized that one of the women had an artificial leg–she was a cancer survivor. The Stelvio brings out something special in us, it appears.


Super inspirational! I received a heart & kidney transplant in July 2020. I briefly used Sufferfest during my recovery. I teared reading your post to my gf. Maybe I should re-up and strive for bigger goals! Thanks!