Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Mountain Biking - Under Les Tufs

Glaciers seen from La Grande Motte in Tignes.

Mountain rescue by winch from a mountain bike trail next to the Palafours ski lift at Tignes Le Lac. This is one bonus of "descent" mountain biking - if you are well insured you get a free helicopter ride.

Under Les Tufs ski lift. This is normally a black ski run and off piste in the winter - but only qualifies as a blue bike trail! This is the "kangaroo" trail. Great fun - but way too easy! Good perhaps for building speed and confidence but not technical and certainly not dangerous. True enough - the "red" trails are more technical and interesting - but the "blacks" are in places I wouldn't even ski off piste in winter and are a quantum leap in technical difficulty. Admittedly i don't have a "downhill" bike with enormous shocks and the right geometry - but there are spots where if you fell off nothing would stop you from tumbling down the mountain.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Alex No Slalom Day 5

High winds closed down the glacier today. Everyone had to hang around for 2 hours though before the final decision was taken. Once again the lack of a cafe being open near the funicular was a gaping shortcoming of Tignes organisation. While waiting there I took the opportunity to begin teaching Alex about Chirunning. Alex had asked me about this a couple of times so it seemed like a useful way to fill the time. When it was clear that the glacier was closed we all got changed out of ski clothing and set about the Chirunning and Chiwalking a little more seriously.

Chirunning (Permanent page... )

It took me handful of years to develop Chiskiing from Chirunning - but it has turned out to be massively important in skiing. Although I teach people Chiskiing directly and sometimes with enormous effect, I'm certain that it can only be fully developed by having a clear grasp of either Chiwalking or Chirunning. When developing Chiskiing there was a necessary intermediate stage of development thanks to Chicycling. Without the cycling I'd never have been able to make the step towards skiing because it is even more counter intuitive than Chirunning itself.

Here is Alex Chirunning barefoot on grass for the first time.

Just as in skiing the key to Chirunning is to move from the centre of the body. All movements need to start from there.
  • Overall the aim is to allow gravity to generate all forward propulsion. This is achieved through a toppling forward action (of the centre of mass) when the foot is placed directly beneath the body. 
  • The supporting leg then extends behind the body maintaining the height of the centre of mass above the ground. 
  • While the leg is extending the hip follows it backwards creating muscular tension
    through a twist in the lower abdominal area. (This is a cross-lateral movement working against the upper torso and arms)
  • The leg being recovered requires the heel to be lifted high to make the leg into a short pendulum so it can be easily pulled forward.
  • The abdominals and hip flexors are used actively to pull the knee forward and the foot is lowered directly below the body - overreaching ahead must be avoided.
  • Unless sprinting fast the foot should strike the ground in the middle or near the front of the heel - but never at the back of the heel. The forefoot can be used for fast sprinting.
  • The body is slightly tilted forwards from the ankles - never from the hips.
  • To go faster requires more relaxation (especially around the hips) and slightly more forward lean. 
  • Most energy goes into the recovery of the trailing leg - and "pushing off" for forward propulsion must be avoided.
  • Optimum cadence is around 90 strides per minute (180 steps) 
  • Higher speed requires the stride to be lengthened. 

Further Notes (lifted from a subsequent email...):

Just a few points I wanted to mention to Alex - but didn't have the time or opportunity: He needs to stop sticking out his tongue - because he seriously risks biting it off during a fall or impact.

When he runs he mentioned that he strikes the ground with the outside edge of his foot. This is caused by reaching for the ground with the forefoot. I figured out some time ago that it happens because we are used to walking in shoes with raised heels. (This also makes flipping over on the ankle joint - to the outside - very easy and tears or stretches the ankle ligaments). The trick is to raise the forefoot instead and extend the heel downwards when the foot is in the air. This also extends the calf muscle. The foot strikes the ground somewhere from the front of the heel to the forefoot depending on speed and forward inclination of the body. Holding the outside edge of the foot "up" uses the anterior tibialis muscle (shin) exactly as in skiing and this engages the adductors on both legs - exactly as in skiing! This also means that when the foot hits the ground there is no further extension of the calf muscle - which is normally referred to as "eccentric contraction" and which is both damaging and very tiring. Basically just holding the forefoot up and engaging the adductors sorts out a whole host of problems. I didn't have the time to go into this amount of detail with Alex but it's easy to apply. I however do recommend that he starts to run on very flat - even minimalist shoes - hence the reason I had him experience the running barefoot. If he starts out this way when still small it will be very easy and natural. Raised heels are totally unnatural and unjustified - it's simply fashion.

Alex is unable to use nasal breathing and feels like the passages are blocked - but perhaps he is just used to over-breathing. Perhaps also his sinuses are reacting to a wheat allergy? The nose is the "breathing organ". In sport you can drink through the mouth without stopping breathing if you breathe through the nose. What concerns me most however is that dentists agree across the board that mouth breathing deforms the jaw - making it narrow and causing the palate to narrow and teeth to overcrowd. He is young enough to catch this and stop it from affecting him for life. This for example is a major issue for singers - because the shape of the mouth internally strongly affects the voice. I know that I suffered this to some extent and required 4 healthy teeth to be extracted and still had overcrowding. I was a definite mouth breather as a child and unconscious of it. I can't blame my parents because they had no idea. I only criticise them for their smoking and subjecting me to second hand smoke constantly as a child.


Once Alex was doing a good job of Chirunning both Alex and Mike were introduced to Chiwalking. The idea here is to apply the same principles to walking and it is easiest to feel when walking up quite a steep hill. We did this on grass again. The goal is to keep the back upright and straight (no forwards bending at the hips) avoid reaching ahead and landing on the back of the heel, extending the leg behind and feeling the glutes and lower back muscles contract. This uses the big core muscles instead of smaller peripheral leg muscles. There is far less strain on the quads because most of the lifting power now comes from the glutes. The coordination of glutes and quads is far more efficient and gravity is exploited constructively for forward motion even when going uphill against it.

Black Metal Inspection

Chiwalking was used to climb up to the gnarly section of the "Black Metal" downhill mountain bike run. Mike clearly felt how the technique made a fairly high and steep climb feel almost effortless - with no aching muscles. Combining this exercise with a "course inspection" was a great way to optimise our time. I for one soon became clear that the black runs were well above my current mountain biking capacity - and I'm not just blaming my equipment here!

Walking down was very tricky due to the steepness on the bends and tendency for the shoes to slide on the grit. It rapidly became clear that keeping the feet out to the side was the best way to maintain grip. The similarity of this action - almost jumping from side to side - is remarkably similar to slalom - where the turns should be to the side and the body facing downhill. Placing the feet below the body was a recipe for skidding and falling. Alex did manage to skid and landed on his coccyx right on the sharp ridge of a rock! That one will hurt for a while.
At one point Alex ran down a steep part and started to accelerate out of control. Fortunately I was beneath him and saw it happening so let him run straight into me. This clarified why he has speed control issues on the mountain bike . He was just not ware of the power of gravity outside of a skiing context on the mountain. Ultimately this was an excellent lesson for him as he is now aware of how speed must always be controlled. Going fast is fine if it is intended and controlled.

Notice Alex with his feet beneath him and Mike with his feet to the side...
 It was every bit as steep as it looks here...
Neither Alex nor Mike have been in the mountains before outside of the context of skiing. Away from the mechanised and exposed ski resorts the mountains are fantastic for hiking and exploring and the potential is endless. I think that Mike was already beginning to appreciate this. Getting to the top of a remote area can most often be breathtaking - and that's even without the need for body armour!

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Alex Slalom Day 4

Alex - first day of Giant Slalom training!

Alex was working mainly on "start of turn dynamics", but applying it to giant slalom for the first time. I think the bruises on his legs from slalom gates were probably getting to him so the change from special slalom was appreciated - as was the speed!

Later on I tried to get Alex to widen his stance a little to be able to make a more rapid edge change and turn transition. This led us onto "Ted Ligety" turns...! I think Alex did quite a good job of getting reasonably close to this for his first ever day of GS coaching!

I've not actually explained anywhere on this blog the technical differences that allow such a major level of dynamics - but Alex now knows how to get there! I'll save the explanation for the time being and keep it a secret with Alex.  

We had another nice morning - but in the afternoon when biking we were caught out by a storm. Unfortunately it hit us suddenly when we were on a long chairlift - high winds and freezing lashing rain. Then Alex freaked out on the bike and when I prompted him with some encouragement he responded by asking if I didn't have a "weather app" in my brain! We did get pretty muddy - but all got down safely. Alex did brilliantly for a 10 year old with no experience of mountain biking. 

Meanwhile, the Alien Landing Platform on the Tignes glacier is looking more impressive than ever!

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Alex Slalom Day 3

Overnight rain, wind and electrical storms meant the mountain was late opening - but fortunately not too late to be unbearable. No cafés of shops were open - including the one at the top of the lift. I find it hard to criticise Tignes these days - but this needs criticism. In addition the reason given for the delays was "high winds at altitude". There was no wind - it was a total BS excuse. Both Mike and I were tired as both had slept poorly - so that made a slightly rough start to the day. The weather cleared up rapidly as I had expected and soon all was back to normal.

Start of Turn Dynamics

last night I'd already decided to work on getting Alex more dynamic at the start of his turns. There is a good blog entry for "start of turn dynamics" here:

We began with some static exercises Where I had Alex stand uphill from me with skis across the hill. He had to turn his upper body and pelvis to face me and then plunge towards me as if diving into a pool - grabbing a ski pole I was holding across in front of me. Initially he would drop his hips inwards towards me but this was modified so that he came to me chest first and facing me with his head - bottom still facing uphill. This is quite a scary thing to do on skis and takes a lot of confidence - until you realise that it works.

In the slalom this immediately allowed Alex to get quicker out of one turn and into the next. It makes him appear to be much more aggressive and faster. This was basically all we worked on today because it was improving his skiing and is obviously a key aspect.

Alex dodged some of the big poles because they are a bit heavy for him - but this is quite acceptable for him to do.

Alex is still pivoting his right ski at the start of his turns to the left - but the issue is diminishing with his steady progress.

Mountain Biking Intro

On day one Alex had a lesson from a French mountain bike instructor - and after two bad falls it almost put him off. The idiot instructor took him on a "blue" run even though he had never been on a mountain bike in his life! French ski instructors tend to be utter morons at that best of times - but this is equally as bad and unacceptable. Today I joined Mike and Alex with my own bike - having finally repaired a dodgy brake. To encourage Alex we stayed strictly on green runs.

Alex was given zero explanation from the French moron and I could see he was confused about how to deal with the banked tracks - so I decided to help him and relate it all specifically to his morning lesson in slalom.

When going into a banked track turning left you stand on the right pedal - then as you approach the banking - when going not too fast (light use of the brakes) - lean the bike into the turn beneath the body and facing into the turn move the centre of mass inwards - exactly like "start of turn dynamics" in skiing.

I explained to Alex that when born the brain comes with a supply of apps - built in software - that tell you how to respond to any situation. The problem is that all of those apps are crap! You have to replace them with new ones through learning. When a new app is installed and running then this is called a "skill". We can enjoy learning new skills all through our lives. 

This was the first time  I'd used my own bike on prepared trails. In the past I'd always gone "savage". Finishing up on a blue run by myself I was impressed by how much fun it was. I'm particularly impressed at the engine power - which perhaps should be called a "gravity drive". Pedals are just for standing on!

Friday, July 24, 2015

Alex Slalom Day 2

Today we were together on the first train and cable car up to the top of the Grand Motte. That's how to maximise the day properly. Clear skies had transformed the snow into hard ice so we would have a good surface for the first few hours at least. 

Mike and Alex helped me set out the course. I'd have liked to explain some things to Alex but it was enough just to keep him out of trouble when carrying the stubbies (short poles). 

Stopping Rotation

Alex had reviewed yesterday's video and so knew that he was rotating. We did a few static exercises with the legs being rotated but preventing the pelvis and body rotating along with the legs. I also had Alex walking through poles stepping forwards or laterally - but without the body turning. The ChiSkiing we had already worked on is part of "not rotating" but I was planning to come back to that subject later on.

Immediately in the poles Alex was able to improve this issue somewhat and went visibly faster. The real problem is that there are so many things to work on he would tend to forget to focus on a specific issue.


I explained to Alex that part of being a good athlete is developing the ability to focus. We have to practice this to become good at it. It helps if you can find something to focus on inside your own body.


Despite being coached by both me and Philippe since starting skiing Alex could not anwser the most important question in skiing - "What is the only thing a skier has to do?" The answer of course is "fall over!". This is all explained  in "Dynamics" and Alex has heard it a hundred times! The ski's job is to lift you back up.

I explained to Alex that this effectively means moving his "centre" - the same centre he focused on for ChiSkiing purposes - but now moving it across the skis and down towards the snow. This is what makes skis and skiing work. Immediately this made Alex faster. He was starting to understand that he had to move his body directly.

On his first run thinking about dynamics he had one fall - caused by locking his hip joint and not being able to react properly. 

Selective Muscle Use

The key to relaxing and bending at the hip is to first of all be aware that you are bending everywhere but the hip! Alex would lock up his hip and bend at the lower back instead. We did a few static exercises and managed to change this so that Alex was clear about this issue and could bend correctly while still keeping the "support leg" strong. 

In the video Alex is still getting stuck and using a stem - but much less than before. Part of the issue is that he hasn't yet been taught how to move his centre of mass over the skis while actually facing the body downhill. We will start with this tomorrow. 

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Alex Slalom Day 1

Day one of Alex's "on snow" summer slalom training. It's worth mentioning here that this is Alex's first time ever doing slalom on snow. He has run a few special slalom gates on plastic in the UK - but that's not really comparable.

The video here is towards teh end of the first session. Alex was trying to move earlier in the turn - rather than waiting and hesitating. He was also working on focusing on his hips.

Alex is actually doing incredibly well for starting out in slalom. This is largely because he was trained in dynamics from the beginning of skiing. Still, poles have a way of exposing all your weaknesses - which is useful because then you can get to work on sorting them out!

Alex's main issue - which blocks him and makes him hesitate - is that he is over rotating. The turn starts late and often with a stemming out of the outside ski - which also means there is too much pressure on the inside ski and it's being used to rotate the body. All of this limits grip and acceleration and then the confidence to incline more dynamically into the turn. Reaching the outside arm defensively against the poles just worsens the rotation. This all leads to a slowness to react, a lateness in the turns, lots of skidding and loss of speed, and a general "woodenness".

Chi Skiing ( )

We worked on Chi Skiing - the pulling back of the outside hip to allow the body to fall into a turn - by actively eliminating hip rotation. This also places the outside arm automatically into the correct position for defending against breakaway poles - without any "reaching". 

Alex is starting to be curious about things and had already asked me about ChiRunning - so he's at a good age now for being given basic technical information. (He also asked about the "Illuminati" which slightly astonished me! I told him it was started in 1776 in Bavaria by Adam Weishaupt on behalf of Rothschild. So if there is any connection with this today it could be that the Bank of England is in the names of both Rothschild and the Queen! Invisibility extends even there - because this bank has never been audited.)

Alex is easily distracted so part of the Chi approach is to bring attention to the centre of the body - to feel the twist and tension in the abdomen as the change is made from one turn to the next. Focusing internally and on a core issue (literally the core!) trains the mind naturally to be disciplined in a peaceful and appropriate way.

We will have to work harder on technique to eliminate this rotation. It's recovering from this rotation that causes the stem (pushing out and flattening of the ski) into the start of the next turn. 

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Cormet de Roselend - Maffetone Review

Cormet de Roselend was the choice for training today. It's not a hard climb being only 19 kilometres - but it has three tough sections of 8% average. 

I'm specifically training to build Aerobic Function at the moment - following the advice of Dr Phil Maffetone. This is experimental of course but there is little to lose and potentially a lot to gain. Maffetone is the only training advice I've so far encountered that appears to fit correctly with a ketogenic diet - making it potentially a very significant long term health boost. It just so happens that some of the best athletes in history made their success by following the advice of the man - so he's probably worth giving a chance!

Dr Maffetone's book is called "The Big Book of Endurance Training and Racing" - published in 2010 - so it's quite current. I'm about half way through it and have to say that I've found a lot of problems with it - but nothing that really contradicts the overall premise - that of training the aerobic system in a very specific way - avoiding anaerobic stimulation and providing excellent nutrition. 

I'm going to list here a selection of notes I'm collecting regarding criticism of his book. This is mainly for reference and to be elaborated on in the future:

Error 1- Brain runs exclusively on glucose!

He makes a notable error however in stating that the brain functions exclusively on glucose. When he recommends foods however his list is spot on - identical to how I currently eat. Then unfortunately he takes the Atkins approach by reintroducing carbohydrates to find the limits of "carbohydrate tolerance". If he had not made the blatant error (about the brain) earlier on then he might have been believable but those errors are very revealing. I'll stick to ketosis!

Resting Heart Rate

This one he seems to get right! My resting heart rate is close to 60 now. Either I have a problem now or I had a problem when it was at 36 bpm! I think Maffetone is right on this one though. I'd rather see my heart rate low based on a having a fully developed aerobic system than due to my adrenal system being hammered. It appears that a very low heart rate can be due to the parasympathetic autonomous nervous system suppressing the adrenal system due to over-training.

Error 2 - Max Heart Rate changes with age.

So far Maffetone has been wrong in his assertion that heart rate lowers with age (hence his "180-age" aerobic max formula) and he is wrong about the brain functioning only on glucose - but those are standard mainstream assertions. He published the book in 2010 so he may have moved on since. 

Error 3 - Failure to acknowledge the major role of ketones in endurance metabolism.

I did see somewhere on his website that he recommends a ketogenic diet. There's also the issue that some people do function well on carbohydrates - so there are grounds for a certain amount of tolerance here. The problem for me however is that there is a direct failure to explore the benefits and potential of ketosis. If he had done that and decided it wasn't helpful then that would be interesting - but he hasn't!

He recommends Heart Rate Variability as a way of monitoring stress

I found the "CardioMood" Android app for about €1. This syncs with my Mio Fuse laser heart rate monitor easily.

I've just recorded 18 minutes with CardioMood and my average pulse was 59 with average stress at 81 - down from 187 on the 14th!!!!!

18th... Hr 59, AS 81, HRV 57.4, VLF/HF 71.05, LF/HF 7.62
14th... Hr 64, AS 187, HRV 46.4, VLF/HF 5.93, LF/HF 4.06

AS being average stress means lower is better.
HRV is heart rate variability - higher is better.
VLF and LF are sympathetic nervous system and HF parasympathetic. High ratios are better.

There is however a serious shortage of information on the subject here so I will have to investigate it all.

Sensing "aerobic threshold" - instead of using his daft formula!

One interesting thing that is happening when training is that I'm not only sensitive to physiological issues - such as breathing and skill - but by forcing myself to remain aerobic I'm now becoming aware of psychological issues that were hidden. For example, when I don't concentrate then I speed up and get the audio message that my heart rate is too high. My brain automatically goes into "attack" mode if I let it. I can feel the "tug" in this direction all the time - like an addiction to the stimulus, the adrenaline or endorphins. It's another signal to watch for that tells me where the aerobic limit is. In fact perhaps it's more of an adrenal limit.

There seems to be a "cusp" where things flip over when exercising. It's a bit like walking on a tightrope. My breathing indicates a heart rate of 136 (when warmed up) and this seems to be confirmed by the adrenal aspect. However it's nigh on impossible to stay on the 136. It either drops too low - or flips too high - with the slightest inattention. This is probably also another good indicator - it's an unstable area. In chaos theory this is what would happen when a system flips from one island of stability (dynamic equilibrium) to another. It's good to be starting to recognize all those elements. I feel like I could go out either running or cycling now and pretty much stay accurate without the HR monitor. The key is also to err on the low side - using a range from 126 to 136 bpm.

I'm not going to defer to Maffetone's "formula" because anything based on linear mathematics - especially when related to complex systems - is basically junk. It's better to learn to listen to your body.

One thing Maffetone observed with his clients is that the closer the trained to "aerobic max" or "aerobic threshold" if you want to call it that - then the more rapidly they improved their aerobic base. If this wasn't the case then I'd happily sit more comfortably at a more stable lower level like 130 bpm.

To be honest Maffetone's book is not very well written - it is not referenced to a bibliography and is not very deep in any respect. It has however the merit of being simple, clear, insightful and largely correct.

Error 4 - we need to train "pure aerobic"!

What interests me however is the interaction of anaerobic and aerobic systems and the role of ketones. Maffetone gets all of that wrong when it comes to any depth of understanding - so there is a lot out there to be explored. We can't escape the fact that all the carbs normally used in the aerobic system come from the anaerobic system. The question is really though - how much energy does the aerobic system apportion to each of fat, ketone, protein and pyruvate (carbs)? How can training and diet modify this and to what degree? Which of the fuels gives the most power and energy? To be honest, it looks like ketones wins. If the heart is 28% more efficient on ketones then that's saying a lot. The brain runs better on ketones too. Keto adapted muscles do well also.

There's also the fact that lactic acid/lactate is the "transport mode" for pyruvate. Lactate is also preferred by the brain and heart. Nobody discusses how we can actually eat this (lactofermented foods - and natural in some foods too) and so supply the aerobic metabolism directly with carbs (pyruvate). Nobody mentions how lactate in the cells causes a genetic expression cascade - prompting the creation of more mitochondria. Now this raises an apparent contradiction with Maffetone. Maffetone wants us to suppress the anaerobic system to allow more mitochondria to develop - because he says that inflammation from cytokines and inflammation generated along with lactic acid prevents mitochondria being created. However we need the lactic acid. This could be another reason why lactofermented foods are so good for us - we get the lactic acid without the inflammation! Otherwise it seems we get the right balance at the aerobic threshold. Maffetone is wrong to state that this is "pure aerobic" exercise - that does not exist! Even when sleeping we generate lactic acid through the anaerobic system.

Error 5 - we should choose carbohydrates in accordance with glycemic index.

He unfortunately advocates the "glycemic index" view of dealing with carbohydrates - and so considers sweet fruit and honey healthy due to high fructose content (low glycemic). Further on when he discusses heart disease (oxidised LDL cholesterol) it is obvious that he is not aware of the link between this and fructose induced triglycerides. He knows that for some people fructose will cause a triglyceride elevation - but he has not linked this all the way through. He also does not know the link between fructose and Insulin Resistance (overproduction and insensitivity to insulin)! He assumes incorrectly that only high glycemic carbs are involved in promoting insulin resistance. All of this contributes to his belief that carbs are fine up to the level that the individual does not feel negative symptoms. So until you feel Alzheimer's starting I guess this should work!

He is also unaware that whole grain products actually have a higher glycemic index than refined ones! (Bread for example).

He is not aware that the "glycemic index" guide (mainly for diabetics) was superseded by the "glycemic load" approach due to the many problems with it. In reality even the basic concept is heavily disputed - with it not being speed of absorption - but quantity of absorption of sugar. Fat, fibre etc just prevent the sugar getting through the intestines. Glycemic load is the Glycemic index multiplied by grams - but this does not account for the effects of other macronutrients as mentioned above. 

Basically all of that mess is avoided just by avoiding all sweet or starchy foods. It's really that simple!

Error 6 - more fibre and hydration cures constipation!

Another problem with Maffetone is that he thinks fibre and good hydration are necessary to avoid constipation. Those things have nothing to do with it. They only work when you are already addicted to fibre! Constipation - when not due to withdrawal from a high fibre diet - is due to an unhealthy intestinal microbiome.

Yikes, I'm not even half way though the book yet. But if he successfully trained legendary 6 time Ironman winner Mark Allen - then he's got something right!

Error 7 - Cholesterol is a fat!

Cholesterol is an alcohol. Molecular formula C27H45OH.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Col de Petit St Bernard

The Col de Petit Saint Bernard is a main summer access to the Aosta Valley in Italy. All this area was once Celtic and they still recognise their Celtic origins on the Italian side. 

The photo below shows both sides of a Celtic stone circle at 7180ft altitude (the path through the middle was the old road (removed to reveal and recover the stone circle). On the right you can see a line of tank traps from WW2. The white capped mountain top second from the left is Mont Blanc.

The Savoie flag on the French side of the border. Interesting resemblance to the Swiss flag and probably similar Templar origins. Local traditions still follow the Isis mythology - though they are unaware of the significance. 

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Tignes Clacier July 2015

Three weeks of heatwave  - plus a snowless winter - has left the Tignes glacier looking a bit worse for wear. Thank goodness the Ice Age is still here and we are about to flip out of the interglacial warm period - like tomorrow. The skiing is still good though. In the top photo there is actually a skier on the snow - bottom right of the glacier. 

Friday, July 10, 2015

Col de la Madeleine 2015

Today was a nice reminder of how difficult the Col de la Madeleine really is. There are a couple of plateaux for a few kilometres but otherwise it's practically the same amount of climbing as Mont Ventoux. 

My goal was to remain "aerobic" the whole way - never letting my heart rate go above 136 bpm. That's good discipline for the ego when you have to let others go tearing past you! Fortunately it was quiet so that only happened once! The aim is to build the aerobic system through avoiding activating the anaerobic system too much. 

Fortunately I seem to be able to climb those 10% gradients with standard gearing 34T "oval" and 28T rear sprocket while keeping the heart rate down. When running I'm finding that it's almost necessary to stop on anything steep - my heart rate just climbs too high and too easily at the moment. That indicates a poor aerobic base. 

While training hard my resting heart rate was only 36 bpm - which I was quite happy about. Now that I've eased off the anaerobic component the heart resting rate is up to 52 bpm. This shows that the reason for the low heart rate wasn't "fitness" - it was a pathogenic suppression of adrenal hormones through the parasympathetic autonomous nervous system. That's every bit as bad as it sounds! Simply put - it was an "over-training" effect. 

The problem with "aerobic" training is that it's relatively boring because it takes so long to get anywhere. Having great scenery and music to listen to helps a lot!