ou know it’s right about now that I start to get that feeling The one that lurks in the pit of your stomach like a virus and rears its ugly head once a year. Like the clock is ticking and you’re heading hook, line and sinker back to work after a holiday……only worse. Worse because there’s just no escaping. Escaping!? Yes, escaping. The depths of another winter in what feels like hell. Only the devil himself has mislaid the matches so the fire has burnt out and it’s cold. Not just regular cold, or chilly cold, but freakin’ god damn MOFO cold. Well, at least that’s how it feels in your head.
Winter can be a motivation slayer unless, of course, you have the knowledge. And, as we know all too well, with knowledge comes power. And power equals glory. Cue the Dr Evil laugh and repeated cat strokes.
That’s m’boy I trained him well huh?
So, you want motivation and to feel your legs burn with glory….but how? Let me tell you a little secret. Repeat after me. The Tour of Sufferlandria. The Tour of Sufferlandria. The Tour of Sufferlandria. Nine days of self harm that’ll have you chewing your top-tube and squeezing your eyes together so tightly that when you open them your (eye) balls will look like raisins. Interpret that as you wish. The Tour may be the biggest but that could just mean it’s overrated. The Giro’s picturesque but remember this ain’t no beauty contest, sugar. As for the Vuelta? Siesta-fest more like. Let’s just leave it at that.
Sometimes the only way to see if you can make it to the other side is to hang yourself out and see how long you take to dry. Why complicate things. It’s that simple.
The Tour of Sufferlandria brings upon the realms of a whole new world of pain. Top shelf stuff above and beyond dental work, child birth or nuts on the stem during a frigid cyclocross race over two decades ago that still makes me wince, and has me waking in a cold sweat on occasion, to this very day. Despite persistent torture, race director Grunter Von Agony is remaining tight lipped about the prospects of surviving his latest wrath-child creation but from scanning the route book it doesn’t take long before your spine starts to shiver.
The only way to conquer such a ride is to hit it hard, really hard, right from the start. No holds barred to show it who’s in charge.
Like some sort of sick joke it looks like Von Agony is trying to deaden the legs in the initial endurance stages before attempting to pop them clean out of their sockets with persistent attacks from the minions come Stage 3. Don’t stand for that. It may seem like the easy, or sensible, option to ride yourself into the Tour but if you don’t leave the room on a stretcher each day then you’re only cheating yourself. Remember that millions are fuelled by the mantra IWBMATTKYT. Don’t let yourself down and wake up with a bruised backside, not this early in the Tour at least.
Quite fittingly two split stages make a pure and unadulterated Sufferfest sandwich of Stage 6’s aptly named “A Very Dark Place” which is exactly where I expect to be at this point. Whatever way I look at it all I can see is the word “MEAN” written all over my screen in permanent marker. I’m trying to block it out but the fact is this is going to hurt. A lot. So you need to make sure you’re ready to embrace the abuse and deal with it the only way you know how. Head on and head strong.
Ain’t no party like an S Club party….that’s “S” for “Singlespeed”. You’re only cheating yourself with gears.
The combination of “Angels” and “The Hunted” on Stage 7 guarantees two hours of climbing torture and torment before your whole body is put through the blender (literally) and reduced to nothing more than pain shakes on a winter’s day in massacreville. Like jamming your digits in a car door, in some sort of perverse way I think Stage 7 and 8 are the two I’m actually most looking forward to of the whole tour. When the pain actually makes you laugh aloud you know you’ve found a special place that few dare to go. Naturally, as with any Grand Tour the final stage is one for the sit on sprinters, and since I can’t sprint for toffee I’ve got 64, that’s right SIXTY FOUR, attempts to come out talking like Tyson before taking it square on the chin for the final KO.
Now for those of you that have made it this far (well done, you have impressive stamina, you will go far) I was brought up to believe that honesty is the best policy, so how do I think this little soirée amidst the Dirty Sanchez of Sufferlandria is going to pan out? Huh. No problem. A recovery ride, no less. Looks to be about as straight forward as lighting the match that goes on to burn down Tinseltown. Then again, I was also taught to only ever believe in half of what you see and nothing that you hear so you know where that puts us? Yep, you got it, right back on the start ramp of stage one. The only way you’re ever gonna know it is to live it, breathe it, feel it, bleed it, ride it, try it, survive it for yourself.
The Tour of Sufferlandria. See you all amidst the smokin’ lava fields of hell!