David McQuillen A.K.A ‘Chief Suffering Officer’ of The Sufferfest

Confronted with what appeared to be a terminal case of Turbo Trainer Boredom Syndrome (TTBS) back in 2009, David refused to give in to his demons. Teaching himself how to edit video and after negotiating rights with major races (something he’d never done before), he created his first Suffer-fest video and inflicted it on the world. With confidence boosted after being called an “assassin,” “sadist,” and other such terms of endearment, and having realised his true calling was to spread agony and misery across the land, David quit his career in banking to focus full time on the ‘fest and his young family. He loves all the videos equally — although Revolver has a special place in his lactic acid soaked heart.

What made you start The Sufferfest?

I was bored out of my mind riding my turbo trainer. I hated every minute of it, but living in Switzerland, I had no choice in winter if I wanted to stay fit. So, I started making my own videos to keep me enterPAINed, as we say in Sufferlandria.

How many Sufferfest videos have you ridden?

Hundreds and hundreds. As I like to say, ‘a day without Suffering…isn’t over yet.’

A lot of people feel they suffer enough on the bike already what made you come up with the name ‘The Sufferfest’

There’s no short cut to fitness – especially on the bike.  If you want to get faster, you have to push yourself and pushing yourself means GLORIOUS Suffering.

You are originally from Pennsylvania in the U.S, so why Hobart?

My wife is from Hobart and the first time she brought me here, I thought it was the best place on earth. It took me nearly 10 years, but I finally moved here a year ago.

How long has The Sufferfest been around?

We released our first video back in December 2009. Well, I say ‘we,’ but it was just me working from my living room during the evenings. Back in those days, I did everything myself and I cringe a bit when I see those first videos. We’ve come a long way – in 2016, we moved from being a video company to a technology company by releasing our first interactive app.

We’ve found a lot of cyclists who ride on the road or MTB see improvements once they start The Sufferfest workouts, can you explain this phenomenon?

The surest way to get stronger is to do structured, high-intensity intervals. But out on the road, it’s very hard to do these kinds of workouts correctly. By training indoors with The Sufferfest, cyclists can target very specific aspects of their fitness that they want to improve and get in an extremely high-quality workout in a short period of time. We always say that you’ll see results after just four weeks of doing The Sufferfest once or twice a week.

What makes The Sufferfest different to other cycling videos?

There are four things that make a Sufferfest video really special. First, our workouts are designed by elite cycling coaches and are the same kinds of workouts they give their pro athletes…so you know they work. Second, our videos feature footage from races like the Tour de France, World Championships and the Giro d’Italia, putting you right in the action. Then there are our incredible soundtracks which surely feature your next favourite song and, lastly, we have incredible storylines that really suck you in and, most of the time, make you laugh.

Where is your favourite place other than Sufferlandria to ride your bike?

What. You mean there are other places to ride?

What would you say is the biggest difference in doing a Sufferfest workout in an embassy like, The Studio SoHo vs on a home trainer?

As they say, ‘misery loves company.’ When you’re training in a group setting, it’s really motivating. You’ve got people who are going through the same journey as you, who are pushing themselves hard and, when you’re deep into a difficult effort and you see that the person next to you isn’t giving up, then it helps you push that little bit harder. And that’s where the real fitness gains come from.

How long does a Sufferfest video run?

Anywhere from 20 minutes to two hours — but most are around an hour. Having said that, the intervals seem

Are you a fan of le Tour and if so which team do you support?

I’m obsessed with professional bike racing and have been since I was 16. I don’t really have a favourite team. My favourite rider of all time is Gianni Bugno, who was world champion twice. Today, my favourite riders are the attackers. Guys like Thibaut Pinot and Fabio Aru.

What’s your favourite Sufferfest ride?

Oh….that’s like asking which of my kids is my favourite….I love them all! At the moment, I’m really enjoying a couple of our new ones: The Shovel, which has a whole series of really intense, short efforts and footage from the Tour of Britain, and Getting Away With It, which is a ‘sweet spot’ workout featuring incredible footage from the Pyrenees.

How would you describe The Sufferfest to someone who has never experienced it before?

Painful. But worth it.

The Sufferfest workouts are created by Apex coaching, is it true that a lot of the workouts are based around those given to pro tour riders?

Our videos are created by Neal Henderson, who coaches athletes like Rohan Dennis, one of Australia’s top cyclists and a former hour record holder. The workouts that we use for our sessions follow the same structure that Neal gives his Olympic and Tour de France riders. The only difference is that our workouts are a bit shorter than the ones the pros do.

Which has been the hardest Sufferfest video to create and why?

A couple of years ago, we came out with a video called ‘It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time.’ This two hour video was an absolute beast to make. I’d never put something that long together and getting the story, footage and workout to all hang together and create a cohesive experience was really tough. Having said that, I’m incredibly proud of it and think it’s one of our best ever videos.

You have a very passionate and dedicated community on social media, what do you think makes so many people join Sufferlandria?

We’ve made Suffering fun. It’s not obvious from the outside, but there is a massive element of fun and humour that runs through The Sufferfest. When people do one of our workouts, they’re challenging themselves to be stronger, better and more courageous but they’re also having a great time. And, of course, they’re joining Sufferlandria to fight against the evil forces of Couchlandria and their terrible ways of ease, quiet and sloth.

What is The Tour of Sufferlandria?

It’s the Greatest Grand Tour of a Mythical Nation in the Whole Wide World. From around the world, thousands of people commit to riding one or more Sufferfest videos for nine days straight. We have amazing prizes and every year we raise money for charity: this year we raised more than $130,000 USD for the Davis Phinney Foundation for Parkinson’s.

We hear that you yourself lead some of the suffering at The Studio SoHo, is this true?

Of course I do. Nothing gives me more pleasure than helping others Suffer.

I have heard of the Knights of Sufferlandria, how do I achieve Knighthood status?

It’s simple. Ride 10 Sufferfest videos. Back to back. With no more than 10 minutes break between videos. You should do it. Can I write down a date for you?

What’s your favourite thing to do in Hobart off the bike?

You can get off the bike?

To read more about The Sufferfest or to become a Sufferlandrian check out their amazing new website www.thesufferfest.com

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