The Elements Of Style

No, not the thing about sock length. Or wearing particular shorts with particular jerseys. Or saddle bags. Not even Strunk & White’s famed and venerable treatise on the topic of well-formed English.

This is about a different kind of Style. This kind of style

Let me give you the background. When our “friends” at Sufferfest Studios put out a call for reviewers, I was sure I’d be in for a pleasant Saturday afternoon’s agony. You know, the kind that can paralyse a hound. But even though I’ve only just come back from an elbow injury and even though I had a fridge full of beer and bacon, I nevertheless answered the call and fired up the big screen. Never let it be said that when my country needed me, I failed to heed the call. I was ready to suffer.

But Elements Of Style is something a little different.

This video is not primarily about rendering your muscles down into a fine paste, as its siblings tend to be. Oh no. Elements of Style is a brilliantly designed and beautifully presented series of drills aimed at instilling correct form and improved body awareness on sloppy bike riders. Like me.


It consists of six main drills and an overarching Systems Check which glues the other drills together. The point here isn’t necessarily to make you hurt – though it’s more than capable of doing that – but to make you a smoother and more elegant rider. On screen are the Cycling Tips team of Wade Wallace and Alan Iacuone and Sufferlandrian Cal Britten riding through the unspeakably stunning scenery of New Zealand’s South Island, overlaid by neat and well-balanced new graphics. This delicious concoction is topped off with narration by the inestimable Carton Kirby. Yes, that Carlton Kirby.

I can say without contradiction that this is the most slick, scenic, and well-produced Sufferfest I’ve seen so far. It’s almost relaxing.


Because the thing is, while you’re concentrating hard on your form, it’s really easy – shockingly easy – to leave the throttle a little too far open, as I did on my first attempt.

As you can see if you follow the link, despite this being my second ride since coming back from injury, I still ended up with my heart rate in threshold for 40% of the session, and maxed for another 5%.  Somewhere between the low-cadence climbing drill and the high-cadence sprint drill, I lost track of where my heart rate was meant to be, and lost sight of how short the recovery intervals were, and ended up burying myself. This is no cakewalk.

The floor is an inch deep in sweat but here’s the thing. I can feel myself already starting to repeat the drills back to myself even when off the bike. As the video suggests, if you do this once a week as part of your general training – and it’s only a short video, so there’s no excuse – you’ll find yourself becoming smoother, faster, and damn it better looking.

Elements of Style hits the web on Tuesday 9th September at the Sufferfest’s site. I would suggest that you need a copy. Yes, you.

And get some proper socks, would you? The ones you have on are completely the wrong length.

One Thought on “The Elements Of Style

  1. Pingback: Race recap: Tour of Sufferlandria, Stages 1-5 | The Crankset

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