Training apps are becoming more and more varied in terms of what they offer, so whether you want to race through virtual worlds or find a way to structure your training plan, there’s an option for you. But sometimes too much choice can be daunting and it’s hard to know where to start. We asked members of our Wattbiker tribe about their favourite apps, and how the unrivalled connectivity of the Wattbike Atom smart bike is helping them achieve their training goals.
This week we spoke to Michael, a seasoned Sufferlandrian who trains mainly for long distance fundraisers, and needs an app and trainer that fits in with his hectic schedule.
Hi Michael, how long have you been a Wattbike user and what drew you to the Wattbike?
"I’m actually the proud owner of three Wattbikes. I’ve had the Wattbike Pro since 2011. It’s a wonderful, robust brute of a thing, but at the same time has amazing road-like feel. I love the simplicity of it. It’s just you, the bike and the suffering! It takes everything I can throw it and plenty more.
In 2017, after six years with the Pro, I was thinking it might be N+1 time. I was at a Sufferfest training camp at UCI Headquarters in Aigle, Switzerland. I saw the Wattbike Atom for the first time and was stunned. It was sleek, it was beautiful and it was smart. I fell in love with it. In fact, I loved it so much I signed up on the spot for three of them...one for me, one for my partner and one for a friend.
My first ride was an event to remember – 12 hours in the saddle to earn the first Sufferfest knighthood on an Atom. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done on a bike, but the Atom was great to ride."
How often do you train indoors?
"We’re lucky here in Australia to have decent outdoor riding conditions most of the year. But even in summer, I’ll get two or three indoor sessions in each week, especially when I’m building up for an event."
What makes indoor training a crucial part of your routine?
"Like a lot of people, I don’t have a lot of free time. I travel a lot and I care about making the most of the time I do get to train. Indoor training works for me because I get better results in less time. It comes down to three things:
It’s super time-efficient. There’s no faffing about getting ready, just get on and ride.
It’s a controlled environment. With no traffic lights, no potholes and no terrain, I can do highly specific workouts and get maximum training effect.
It’s way more intense. I can push myself so much harder than I do out on the road. Being indoors, there’s no need to leave something in the tank for the ride home."
Which app do you use to supplement your training with?
"I’m a big fan of The Sufferfest. I’ve used it since the early days, before the app."
What attracted you to The Sufferfest?
"At the time, I was looking for something to help me get fitter on the bike. There were a bunch of video training systems around back then, but I was just getting bored of videos of a guy walking around a room full of impossibly happy people on spin bikes.
A friend told me about this ‘Suffer-land’ thing his brother had come across. I bought a few videos and did my first Sufferfest workout on a sweltering day in the local gym of a remote Queensland mining town. I loved the humour, and the real-life footage was a great distraction from the heat and the flies. But most of all I felt like I’d had a real workout.
Since then, videos have evolved into an incredible app. FTP has given way to 4DP and the on-bike focus has expanded into all-round preparation - yoga, mental preparation, strength training and plenty more. The Sufferfest now has everything I need to succeed.
But it’s really significant to me that all along, the ‘enterpainment’ has been underpinned by world-class sports science. Every interval in every workout in every training plan has been prepared by coaches who guide some of the world’s best cycling athletes. It’s this pedigree that keeps me coming back to The Sufferfest."
How has the combination of The Sufferfest and the Wattbike Atom helped you reach your training goals?
"I train mainly so I can ride to raise money for cancer research with Tour de Cure Australia. TDC raises over AUD$10million each year and that money goes into research projects that make a real difference to the world.
Riding the annual Signature Tour, we cover around 1,400km in nine days. The fitter you are, the more enjoyable the ride and the more energy you have for the outreach events – school visits, community dinners and so on.
My main challenge is that I travel a lot in my role. The Sufferfest app makes sure I’m getting great workouts when I’m away from home. It keeps me focused and helps me build strength and endurance to Tour-level faster than anything else I’ve tried."
What is your favourite in-app workout? "Revolver is my go-to workout. It’s an awesome, massively challenging session wrapped up in a neat 45 minute package."