ZAG Comes Good!

Be careful when buying skis over the internet! I’d purchased a pair of ZAG Bigs at a great price in 2012 from – and while had been waiting for them to arrive from the US I ended up on a pair of K2 Kung Fujas – which became my main ski for the next two seasons. The Zag was placed aside for future use and meanwhile I used an old pair of Bigs for teaching and rock bashing – particularly this season due to the severe initial snow shortage. All of this meant that I never really looked closely at the new Bigs when they arrived. Finally this year I chose a good value set of touring bindings to put on the new Bigs and get them ready for the snow improving. Taking them out for the first time at Tignes I was shocked to see that two of the binding screws were pushing through the base material. Initially this looked like a major mistake by the technician who had mounted the binding. On taking the ski back to Ekosport the technician eventually spotted that one of the skis had been constructed with the core the wrong way round – so the thick section was near the front instead of under the foot. The only solution was to take them to the ZAG offices in Chamonix. Initially there was some confused communication with ZAG “after sales service (SAV)” and it looked like a global war was about to start – but after that was sorted out ZAG replaced the skis and shipped them directly to me. The culprit appears to have been a rouge factory in Taiwan which allowed a condemned batch of skis to escape through the back door onto the market. The shop which sold them would have nothing more to do with them and refused all responsibility – citing their standard 14 day returns policy. I’d go along withe that if the skis weren’t put fraudulently on the market – but to be honest this is going a bit too far by the shop. I certainly wouldn’t risk buying anything from that source again. From now on ANYTHING bought online will be thoroughly checked on arrival. Anyway – ZAG were very good in the end and didn’t let me down. Unfortunately the “Big” has been discontinued so the world will in future be deprived of this brilliant design of ski – but if this pair lasts as long as my old ones they will still be in use 10 years from now!

30 cm of fresh snow

30 cm of fresh snow in Le Fornet today – and much more to come! The weather has just decided to be weird this year – now reverting to winter conditions at altitude. Of course – after recent extreme heat we do need the snow to be replenished…. (photo yesterday)

Cycling (Max heart rate confirmed at 188 – increase from 172 !!!!!)

Three days ago I went out on my bike in shorts and racing kit in the cold – first time for 10 days due to circumstances. I felt weak at first and when plodding up to the first km point at a hairpin bend I spotted a fully covered up mountain biker only about 40 m behind and catching me fast. That’s always too embarrassing a situation and purely out of ego driven self preservation I instantly stepped on the gas and my heart rate went up from around 140 to 165 average. When you do this the game is to never look back because the guy trying to humiliate you (or driving your own paranoia) and using you as a target will sense that as weakness! Also by never looking back you always imagine the worst – that he is right on your tail – so you just don’t ease off. About 30 seconds into this nonsense I was already regretting it as there were still 7.4km left to climb. Only 6 km later I saw from turning another hairpin that my sustained acceleration had put a full kilometre between us – but now I couldn’t ease off because there was the chance of actually getting a good time for a change at the top. As it happens the time was 34:40 – and I think this is the first time I’ve been back beneath 35′ since the 2103 season and all the fasting and diet work last season. Right at the finish there is a short steep climb so I accelerated up it to the end – as hard as I could sprint. This now confirms my new max heart rate genuinely has moved up to 188 bpm (from 172 early last year) not just for running but also for cycling. I’ve seen it twice in running but didn’t trust it – thinking it might be the wrist strap optical heart rate monitor doing something weird when sprinting – but on the bike the arms aren’t flying about like mad. Heart rate max is not supposed to increase at any stage in life – it’s only supposed to reduce. I’m attributing this change entirely to the ketogenic diet despite never having heard of such a thing happening. All I know is that the heart is up to 28% more efficient running on ketones.



The day following the 188 bpm bike experience I went running in minimalist trail shoes. Once again the body would be suffering from the long layoff so the running muscles would not be in great shape. I wanted to know specifically if the body had recovered from the hard bike ride or not. One issue that’s been concerning me is whether or not stored glycogen in the body plays a positive performance role after a short layoff. If running on this occasion turned out to be a struggle it would imply that the sugar hadn’t had time to replenish on the ketogenic diet – which supplies hardly any carbs. I’m relying on the body itself producing carbs. Surprisingly this turned out to be the fastest run of the year – 51’29” for 10k – and although this caused muscle pain due to the layoff it demonstrated that performance for me is not dependent on accumulated carbohydrate stores. Both cycling and running this week made me aware of the need to focus now on the mental side of performance. It’s hard to sustain a strong effort over a long time – and to know that each session it all starts over again. Years of battling with losing fat turn you into a plodder instead of focusing on performance. This year there is no fat to lose!


Yesterday’s skiing session was with Gareth – but we spent more time laughing than actually skiing. I tried my old Fischer World Cup parabolic slalom skis and they felt horrible. Gareth was shown some recent evolutions in my teaching – including the “snowplough’ carving/hip-control  exercise I used with Ersin – but his dyslexia prevented him from getting his head around that one on this occasion. We also looked at the complete connection from the centre of the core through the adductors to the foot – then pulling the skis inwards into the turn with the centre of mass. I physically held Gareth so that he could feel his hip being pulled backwards and not the shoulder or foot. Gareth needed to pull up his pelvis at the front to make this work properly – his posture being unstable. We also worked on the separation of ski edge and foot edge (inside the ski boot) so that he was more aware of this than previously – because I noticed that he was always searching for his inside edge when initiating a turn. I told him to ignore which edge his ski was on for starting a turn – because it is irrelevant. This “active adductors and inside of the foot” principle for both legs simultaneously was taken into carving – but the weather began to misbehave and cut the session short.

Ketogenic Bread!

Yes it’s possible to make bread without wheat and with very few carbohydrates. This recipe (discovered by a friend) is so useful that I’ve decided to post it here: 1/2 cup coconut flour
1/2 cup milled linseed
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
combine the above and then mix in the following: 5 eggs
1/4 cup coconut oil or butter
1/8 cup water
1 tsp apple cider vinegar (or balsamic)

Bake for 40 mins at 325F (160C) in a small greased and lined loaf tin until a knife comes out clean.

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