Circle Of Life

This isn’t a review of the classic Walt Disney film The Lion King; which by-the-way is excellent. No this is the nostalgic ramblings of someone who forty years ago, at the age of fifteen, travel to the Alps with the intent of climbing the Matterhorn and Mont Blanc!

Allegedly, at the time, my peers and I were potentially the youngest people to try this. But just as noteworthy; is that we all came from the outskirts of London, which is not renowned for its hills, let alone mountains!

group of mountaineers
The numbers dwindled; until a core group of young people were offered the chance to go the Alps and attempt the Matterhorn and Mont Blanc. Romford Havering Observer Newspaper August 1978

How it all began

So how does a group of kids, more accustomed to playing in the streets, get to attempt such a feat! Well it’s all thanks to Rick Grice, and the London Borough of Havering (Havering)!

Rick was a keen outdoor pursuit participant, with a contagious love of the great outdoors. If hash-tags were about, back then, the Ordnance Survey’s #getoutside would have been running through his veins! He was infectious; he was also the ‘Advisor of Outdoor Pursuits’ for Havering.

Consequently, two bus trips away from my house, was a disused gravel pit called Stubbards. Not the vast complex that is now Stubbards Adventure Centre; but a few lakes where you could learn to kayak and sail. Havering also ran a minibus to Harrisons Rocks, East Sussex to learn climbing. Unknown to me at the time, but these were the same rocks that were so influential to the legendary mountaineer Sir Chris Bonington!

Throughout the summer, for a small fee, I would spend many days at Stubbards and Harrison Rocks. Soon a merry band of climbers formed, and at the end of summer Rick asked if anyone was interested in doing more climbing. At this point I am not sure if Rick had the alpine expedition planned, but he was keen to provide an opportunity for those interested in more climbing. We travelled to other parts of the UK – Derbyshire, North Wales, Lake District, Cornwall and ultimately Scotland – in the familiar Havering minibus. The numbers dwindled; until a core group of young people were offered the chance to go to the Alps and attempt the Matterhorn and Mont Blanc.

Intense training pursued. We travelled to the Highlands of Scotland in winter, and we improved our fitness by running up and down the stairs at the London Borough of Havering offices, before on the 21st July 1978 the expedition set off for the Alps – in two Havering minibuses!

The Alps

We camped in the Chamonix valley; and our first objective was to acclimatise to the altitude and become familiar with ice. We had practiced ice-work in the Highlands of Scotland; but here we had massive glaciers. I understand these glaciers have now receded an astounding amount, since we were on them in the 70s, a result of ‘climate change’! We climbed the Aiguilles (needles), that overlooked the valley, and notch up many classic routes. All in preparation for the instantly recognisable Matterhorn (4,478), our first objective!

We slept on a small ledge, part way up the Hörnli ridge, ready for a sunrise attempt on the summit – in fact we would start in darkness. In summer the snow and ice will melt, on the mountain, which can instigate rock falls. Consequently time is your enemy! 400m from the summit a small team, including me, had run out of time. Rick knew we couldn’t make the summit, in time safely, so we had to turn back. Disappointed at being so close, we made our way back down. Later that same day we heard the news that a ‘handful’ of climbers had died, in a rock fall, on the Matterhorn!

After some rest, and a few more peaks, we focused on Mont Blanc (4,810m); the highest mountain in Europe. We spent the night in the Gouter Hut, ready for another early morning ascent. The hut was not as big, back then, but still extremely popular; as I remember sleeping curled up next to the u-bend under the kitchen sink. The following morning we climbed the Bosses ridge to the summit. Unfortunately no spectacular summit views, because we were in white-out conditions, but triumphant in our success!

Rick Grice

Since that trip to the Alps, I have taken part in many outdoor pursuit activities with Rick, and fallen ‘in love’ with the great outdoors! Time spent in the mountains, rivers, lakes and sea; is time well spent. My family and I love the great outdoors!

plaque
Rick Grice Memorial Climbing Tower. This wall was dedicated to the memory of Rick Grice, late physical education advisor for the Borough of Havering.

Rick died the summer of 1986, I understand attempting to reach two other friends and colleagues who had fallen on a climb in the Alps. There is a memorial climbing wall at Stubbards Activity Centre dedicated to him. I do believe many people have, and will continue to be introduced to outdoor pursuits, thanks to Rick.

Circle of Life

So why ‘Circle of Life’? Presently I am the manager of Tallington Lakes Activities Ltd; a disused gravel pit in Lincolnshire where we introduce people to kayaking, sailing and climbing. We also offer other activities such as stand-up paddle boarding, open water swimming, skiing and snowboarding. And coincidently there are no notable mountains, or hills around us.

I am most-definitely not as competent as Rick, in climbing, mountaineering, kayaking etc; and although passionate about the great outdoors, nowhere near as infectious. But I do manage a team of young people who can show you a new activity; a new activity which, like me, may inspire you to #getoutside!

Matterhorn photograph Wikipedia

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Red Paddle Co ‘Swiss Army Knife Paddleboard’ Review

In the words of Red Paddle Co, the Ride is the ‘Swiss Army Knife’ of SUPs, it’s suitable for ‘almost any rider for any purpose’. So having participated in one of Tallington Lakes SUP Taster Sessions, and spent many an hour paddling around the lake on a Ride 10’6”, I thought it time to venture to the sea – to see how versatile the Ride is!

I chose the 10’8” stand-up paddle board, over the 10’6”, because I thought it would be more stable, for me, on the sea. And as for location, I decided upon the North Atlantic Ocean – Sennen. Sennen is on the North Cornish coast (just up from Land’s End) and is a celebrated surf location; so I may have bitten-off-more-than-I-can-chew for my first SUP outing on the sea!

With the car parked, overlooking the fabulous Sennen beach, I unpacked my SUP, grabbed the Titan pump, and proceeded to inflate! Twenty minutes later I was walking on the sand towards the sea – yes they really are that easy to inflate!

red paddle co ride 10'8" package
All this in the Red Paddle Co Ride 10’8″ SUP package; including the world’s best ‘Titan’ pump!

Fortunately the swell (waves) was small, at low tide, so out I paddled beyond the breaking waves – on my knees. Once ‘out back’ I proceeded to stand. As I bobbed between crest and trough, of the waves, I got myself stable and started to paddle. Momentum helped with the balance, but it wasn’t too long before I was in the sea – splash! Totally refreshed and invigorated by the cold sea I was back on my SUP, and began to paddle, looking ahead at the waves and trying to get into a rhythm. I began to feel confident and paddled along the beach – with the wind and against the wind. I was doing OK!

The nylon alloy paddle worked well, but I felt the better shaped glass paddle would have been a better choice. I have used the glass paddle on one of the Red Paddle Co Tours, that visited Tallington Lakes, and felt that paddle gave more propulsion per stroke. And because momentum was fundamental to better balance, for me on the sea, it would be worth the investment!

I returned to shore. The small breaking wave nearly had me off, but I managed to save myself in the shallow water. I may have been out for an hour, but it felt longer. My core, arms and legs felt they had had a workout, so a cream tea was in order!

Over the next few days, in slightly bigger swell, I paddled my stand up paddle board. Confidence grew, and I thoroughly enjoyed paddling to-and-throw on the North Atlantic Ocean. So now it was time to try surfing! Needless to say it was the rider not the SUP that struggle in the breaking waves, the Ride 10’ 8”performed well – however this is where the smaller 10’6” would have been a better choice.

So is the Red Paddle Co Ride the ‘Swiss Army Knife’ of SUPs? I think so, however, a river trip needs to be completed to say for sure – I’ll let you know how I get on!

Tallington Lakes Pro Shop has a large selection of Red Paddle Co stand up paddleboards, available in-store or online, with expert advice!

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Ronix Happy Hour Modello Wakeboard Review

After four years of riding the Ronix One Timebomb wakeboard I decided that it was time for a change; and with so many new pro-models hitting the shelves this season it was a tough decision. The reason for grabbing Massi Pifferetti’s new pro model, the Ronix Happy Hour, was simply because the ‘Poolside Blue’ graphics stood out to me. The graphics have a super playful feel, replicating his incredible style and reminding us all that the board was designed by arguably one of the world’s greatest riders; who previously rode the One Timebomb. I was excited to see if he had taken all the great features from the One series that I love, and incorporated them in his new awesome looking board.

ronix happy hour Modello poolside blue wakeboard
The reason for grabbing Massi Pifferetti’s new pro model, the Ronix Happy Hour, was simply because the ‘Poolside Blue’ graphics stood out to me.

The 2018 Happy Hour was no let down and honestly I am taken aback by its performance on the water. I had always believed that the One Timebomb was untouchable! Well done Massi; this wakeboard really does do it all; it has given my wakeboarding a new feel and will definitely make this season a fun one.

The Happy Hour wakeboard costs nearly half the price of the One Timebomb and by no means does this inhibit its performance on the water.

The Happy Hour is the only board with a continuous rocker in the Ronix line of wakeboards. I would like to begin by clearing up the rumors; many people believe that wakeboards with continuous rockers lack ‘snap’ when leaving the wake and so are less ‘poppy.’ I do not believe that this is the case with this board; the take offs are really smooth. The continuous rocker simply allows the rider to take tricks further into the flat water, whilst still allowing for smooth landings. The first thing that I noticed was the speed of the board, due to the clean rocker-line, which enables a consistent release off the top of the wake. This is so helpful as I feel more confident on the approach to the trick because I know exactly what to expect. Having a defined rocker-line and a continuous rocker allows the board to lock in, and stays on its edge on approach to the wake, making going big easy. In conclusion, I believe that the continuous rocker gives the board a more mellow lift off the wake. However, this is definitely made up for by a faster more consistent glide on approach, leading to a more predictable, effortless take off.

The core of the board is ultra-stiff. I believe that this is great, because it allows for a takeoff that always feels the same, and enables the rider to easily point the board into a turn. Not only is this board lightweight, it also has the highest strength to weight ratio that has ever been tested by Ronix.

The more durable construction gives the wakeboard a stiffer ride, which I believe is preferable as it adds to the regularity and feels more stable. The flex rating of the board is 6.5/10 which means that the energy off the wake is closer to the instant end of the spectrum. Thus making jumping as effortless as it can be: and  allowing for maximum pop whilst maintaining its free/fun feeling.

Beginner and advanced riders can ride this board, as I believe that it is perfect for all levels of riding. The board feels awesome on the water! It’s unlike any other wakeboard I have ridden, in that it has an incredibly fast glide speed allowing me to ride for longer periods of time because there is less stress on the body. Having two sets of fins (1.0” fiberglass fins and 0.7” ramp fins) allows for increased versatility and allows the rider to customise their set up. 

This and other wakeboards can be found in-store or online at Tallington Lakes Pro Shop.

Thanks Mitch (UK National Champion 2018)

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

SUP Fitness: The Stand-Up Paddleboarding Bug!

How It All Began

My buddy Jane and I have a habit of entering events without really knowing what they entail – and my discovery of stand-up paddle boarding happened in just this way . I messaged Jane and suggested we enter an alternative triathlon (as quite frankly we are both terrible swimmers ) where the swimming was replaced with this activity called SUPing – which looked pretty cool in a ‘surf dude’ way.  Entries done, kit packed we headed off on our girls weekend away mini adventure!

On arrival we quickly realised what this first section of the event entailed – stand up paddle boarding 3km around a Welsh lake in rather a strong wind…we had never even seen a paddle board before …. nothing like a bit of winging it !!!

We set off from the start line on our knees, wondering how the heck we were actually supposed to stand up, let alone steer this wobbly SUP we were on.  A lot of cursing , minor panics about crashing in to the edge and a huge amount of slightly hysterical laughter  –  we braved it – we stood up!

We then braced ourselves ( feet planted !) and cracked on with trying to paddle without propelling ourselves off . 3km later we returned onto dry land…charged up the bank with a huge smile ready to jump on the mountain bikes.

I can’t deny it was a slightly awkward experience to start with, but it was also truly brilliant !! The sense of adventure and excitement from the start was quite unique, we were buddies out together on our paddle boards in the middle of a glorious wavy lake – laughing hysterically at each other , getting equally frustrated at times at our inability to do it, and yet feeling like we were amazing super humans at the same time – simply because we were doing something so unbelievably different , and actually achieving it !

That hour on the paddle board is what got me hooked. I felt totally refreshed yet physically tired after an hour of paddling  – but most of all, I wanted to go again and soon !

female sup fitmess
When you exercise on land you have a nice firm base ( ground !)…..but then transfer those same moves to a wobbly platform, and boy is it new challenge!! 

Fast Forward: This Is Where The Exercise Part Comes In

Paddle boarding is pretty cool – you can simply hire or buy a stand-up paddleboard, and take it for a tootle around a lake or down the river , and almost anybody could do this and get that lovely sense of freedom and escapism the water gives you …….but if that’s a little sedate…. you can of course take it a little further !

SUP Fitness (SUPfit) does just that. We lose the walls and take your workout to the water on the paddle board, giving you an effective full body training session, in a location that gives a sense of space and freedom.

 When you exercise on land you have a nice firm base ( ground !)…..but then transfer those same moves to a wobbly platform, and boy is it new challenge!! 

The exercises improve:
your core strength
your cardio performance 
and tone those legs superbly!

Add that to the back and shoulder muscles required to actually paddle the board, and you leave a session really feeling the benefits.   Plus of course you are outside in the fresh air and sunshine – and simply nothing is better then exercising outdoors for your mental and physical health.

What to the sessions actually involve?

A standard SUPfit session is effectively a circuit training class on the water.  We use cardio exercises to up that heart rate, bodyweight moves to get those joints and muscles working and also add resistance bands to the boards to give us additional strength core workouts.  We mix the sessions up to include sections of stretching and controlled work, with high intensity bursts to keep us on our toes !! 

Workouts can also be tailored – so if you’re a private group wanting to take it a little slower, that’s totally fine, we can strengthen and stretch at sunset and all the benefits can be achieved at your own level.

So if you fancy something a little different, want to keep your workouts fresh and want to work hard and laugh at the same with your friends – why not try the fast growing sport of paddleboarding, and give SUPfit a try ?

If you enjoy it as much as I love teaching it – you will leave the water a stronger, happier and more chilled version of the person that arrived!

Tallington Lakes offer SUP Taster Sessions to introduce you to the basics of stand-up paddleboarding. More information here, or call 01778 381151

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Glide Soul Wetsuit Review

With the ski season coming to the end I needed to find a new way to keep fit throughout the summer. Working at Tallington Lakes gave me the perfect opportunity to swap two skis on snow covered mountains (or Dendix) for one ski behind a boat on the water.

Glide Soul Wetsuit

The water is sill a bit nippy, this time of year, so I took the opportunity to try out a women’s wetsuit, from a  new brand to the Pro Shop,  Glide Soul. Having not heard of this brand before I didn’t know what to expect, and the colour wasn’t exactly to my liking either, so I was a little apprehensive. However once I got it on I was impressed. It was easy to put on and take off and the quality neoprene felt great too – very stretchy! I usually struggle with how tight they feel around my neck, as it makes me feel very uncomfortable, but I didn’t feel restricted in this at all! The seams are glued and blind-stitched, as you would expect from a quality wetsuit; which did not hinder movement either as I attempted to run the course. The Supratex knees feel great and give remarkable flexibility especially when you’re curled up in the water-start position.

female water skier in the water
The Supratex knees feel great and give remarkable flexibility especially when you’re curled up in the water-start position.

As I feel the cold quite a lot, and like to stay warm, I will wear this 3mm wetsuit throughout the whole summer.  So even though the colour is a bit ‘loud’ for me the performance of this wetsuit is fantastic. So don’t let the colour, of this women’s wetsuit,  put you off because the performance itself is actually quite flattering; and we’ve got plenty of other Glide Soul colour-ways to choose from in store!

Lottie (Chief Instructor)

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Brixton All-Terrain Transport 20 Cargo Shorts Review

Tallington Lakes is pleased to announce the arrival of Brixton clothing to the Pro Shop. A collaboration of three friends; Brixton clothing has a ‘clean, classic design’ with a ‘modern yet timeless feel’. What attracted us was their All-Terrain Collection: clothing built for adventure on land and on water!

All-Terrain Transport 20 Cargo Shorts

One such ‘All-Terrain’ item is the Brixton Transport 20 Cargo Shorts. The shorts are made from 4.5 oz ripstop nylon (98%) and elastane (2%); and have a water-repellent coating. The cut is an athletic fit with a straight leg of 20”, and adjustable waistband. There are some nice features, and additions, which make these shorts stand out. A good number of pockets, which are zipped, is very practical; and they have even included a small ‘pocket size’ dry-bag to keep your wallet dry – however I’d be tempted just to have few notes and coins rather than a bulky wallet. Another nice addition is the ‘knot book’ (a handy, roped together,  collection of cards). This simple practical guide takes you back to your scouting days; and makes you hunt out a piece of rope and practice figure-of-eights, clove hitches and more!

knot book cards
Brixton Knot Book. This simple practical guide takes you back to your scouting days; and makes you hunt out a piece of rope and practice figure-of-eights, clove hitches and more!

So it seemed appropriate to review the Transporter shorts whilst rock climbing; to see how ‘all-terrain’ they are!

First impressions, when you put them on, are ‘very comfortable’; partly thanks to the elastane but also the cut. The reinforced seat reiterates you are going to be active; so once the climbing harness, helmet and other equipment was on, I was ready to ascend the gritstone crag. Still comfortable under the harness; the shorts allowed unrestricted movement. The lightweight material keeps you cool, even when things get tricky on the tense crux of the climb. What goes up must come down; and the shorts were equally comfortable during the abseil!

abseilling
What goes up must come down; and the shorts were equally comfortable during the abseil!

Comfortable and unrestrictive the Transporter 20 shorts performed well on the gritty rock face; and I believe they will perform just as well behind the wheel of a speeding wakeboard boat, or leisurely paddling a stand-up-paddleboard. So are they All-Terrain, yes they are, both on land and on water!

Check out the Brixton clothing range at Tallington Lakes Pro Shop here.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Black Diamond Mission Shell Jacket and Sharp End Pant Review

The few that have kept skiing, even when the lifts have stop turning to ‘earn their turns’, spring has been a quick and warm few months!  The ski season is well and truly over with the last of the spring snow gone; and now the skis are serviced and the batteries are removed from our trackers it’s time to reflect. Here are my thoughts on Black Diamond’s Mission Shell Jacket and Sharp End Pant

Coming into this year’s ski season I was super keen to increase the hours I spent touring; so a nice lightweight breathable outer shell setup was going to be a must. However, moving to Vail Colorado, one of the world’s largest ski resorts, with ‘day in day out use’; protection from the elements and durability where going to be a key factor.

I have not personally used any of the extensive clothing range from Black Diamond, but I am familiar with their climbing gear. And I was confident that their commitment to producing excellent climbing hardware would be transferred to their clothing; so I decided to try the Mission Shell snow jacket and Sharpe End snow pants.

Being almost 6ft 4in tall I often find that technical apparel never quite fits right; having to wear larger sizes to accommodate for the extra length, but then finding it way too baggy everywhere else. With Black Diamond I settled on ‘large’ for both pant and jacket, although I could have been a medium in the pants. The large pant gave an extra 2.5cm inseam, and with the integrated belt system tightening up the waist, the large was the better fit. The large jacket was a great fit right from the start, with the under arm gussets giving a great range of movement. The super adjustable cuffs, powder skirt, and Cohaesive cord-lock technology hood all contributed to sealing up the jacket from the elements. Full Gore-Tex construction gave both the jacket and pant excellent waterproofness and breathability, needed to keep the metres of powder snow at bay and disperse all the heat from those warm spring days or sweaty mid winter ‘pushing-the-envelope’ moments!

skier on mountain slope
Full Gore-Tex construction gave both the jacket and pant excellent waterproofness and breathability, needed to keep the meters of powder snow at bay and disperse all the heat from those warm spring days or sweaty mid winter ‘pushing-the-envelope’ moments!

After six months of clattering through tree runs, being stuffed in a bag, ploughed through countless feet of snow, and some rain, this setup has proven its worth many times over. And still now, all be it not smelling quite as fresh, it looks as good as it did when it came out of the packaging.

So if you’re looking to progress into the off-piste and earn your turns, ski groomers all day, or go get buried waist deep and send powder shots overhead this Black Diamond Mission Shell jacket and Sharpe End pant combo will keep you dry and warm on the way down; and well vented and breathable on the way up. From freezing chair lift rides, to climbing across cornices, it’s great to have 100% belief in the kit you’re using – and Black Diamond didn’t disappoint. And not having the extra worry of being too cold or too warm; you can just focus on the objective in front of you.

Looking out for Black Diamond clothing coming to the Pro Shop this winter season 18-19.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Picture Civic 3mm 2mm Wetsuit Review

It seems like everyone is starting to do their part when it comes to cleaning our aquatic playgrounds; everything from reducing agricultural pollutants in our waters to reducing plastic waste. But how many of us have stopped to think; how eco-friendly is the wetsuit I’m wearing, in the water, when participating in my favourite water sport?

Picture Organic Clothing has taken the plunge into the wetsuit market, with the same company policy: ‘sustainable development and conservation of the environment’. Consequently we have seen the emergence of wetsuits made from NaturalPrene – 85% natural rubber and 15% synthetic chlorine free rubber.  So what are these eco-friendly wetsuits like? Well I took one water skiing and wakeboarding at Tallington Lakes, and body-boarding/surfing in Cornwall to try – and the odd open water swim.

The Civic 3mm 2mm Zip-Free Wetsuit

The Civic is a NaturalPrene wetsuit that gives you the same range of motion as a top end competitor’s wetsuit; thanks to the integrated micro particles that enable the NaturalPrene to stretch four times its original size. However it’s not all fancy technology, but simple thinking, that allows for this full range of motion. Inspired motion patterns, based on triathlon specific wetsuits, and no seams underneath the arms or around the shoulders means these wetsuits are great for paddling into waves or stretching around that turn buoy.

picture organic clothing civic 3mm 2mm wetsuit

Glued and blind stitched seams, with solvent free water based glue, and a fully recycled polyester lining; make these wetsuits comfortable and ultra-quick drying. The additional DryNow fibre lining, in critical areas, is ultra-wicking and will keep your body’s core warm.

The zip-free entry design means your cold fingers do not have to struggle with a zipper; which along with the fully waterproof collar, including a glideskin neck seal, will ensure minimal water intake. If you are a surfer, or just take hard hits wakeboarding like myself, then the double NaturalPrene comfort zones protect your ribs perfectly.

The Dolphin 2mm Zip-Free Wetsuit

It’s also worth checking out the Dolphin 2mm wetsuit, which is from the Picture Organics Clothing’s LimeStone range, and is made from 70% limestone neoprene and 30% recycled polyester. The neoprene is derived from the limestone and then mixed with 5% of recycled rubber from old tyres (and old wetsuits). In a nut shell you have a wetsuit made of rocks and tyres.

Consequently Picture Organic Clothing has been able to dramatically save their carbon footprint, in the manufacture of good quality wetsuits. Instead of giving us the figures in a scientific number, that better minds that my own can’t comprehend, they give us an easy understandable representation: the emissions saved are the same as driving 56,000 kilometres in a car.

So high quality wetsuits, that perform in the water, following a 100% eco-friendly policy – done!

Come check out the range of men’s and women’s Picture wetsuits at Tallington Lakes Pro Shop and we can fit you for your ‘eco-friendly wetsuit’ so you can stay in the water longer!

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Carv Digital Ski Instructor Review

If I’m honest, I reached a plateau in my skiing some years ago; I kind of accepted that I’d reached the limits of my body. I wasn’t too unhappy with this as I felt that my skiing was quite good, at least for my age. But wouldn’t it be nice to get just a little bit better? Which is why I was attracted to Carv Digital Ski Instructor.

I’ve been skiing for almost 40 years – and, no, unlike my 14-year old son, I didn’t start at the age of 3! Perhaps I should have, as he’s now far better than me. I look at my son’s skiing with unashamed jealousy and wonder why I can’t be as good as him. Well, I’m not the kind of dad who simply rolls over and lets the younger generation through! No sir, I’ll try anything to regain my dignity and rightful place in the family hierarchy!

Carv Digital Ski Instructor

I think I’m right in saying that our sets were from the first full-scale production run for the product. I say ‘we’ because my son was so impressed by the concept that he also had to have a set – bah, there goes my secret weapon. At £250 a set, it wasn’t exactly an easy decision to commit to, especially as there were no independent reviews out there. But the concept was just so enticing (as was the desire to improve my skiing).

Carv is exactly what it says: it’s a digital ski instructor. It monitors your skiing performance turn-by-turn and talks to you as you’re skiing (of course, you can switch this off). Unlike a human instructor, who will tell you afterwards that you’ve done it all wrong, Carv tells you in real-time, so you can, on the next turn, change what you’re doing and get it right. Carv works with you on separate parts of your skiing: balance, angle, pressure, etc, but it doesn’t overload you with advice and information.

Carv comes in 3 parts: the insole (the core of the product), the tracker (essentially a battery and a communication device to connect to your smart phone), and an App. Let’s take a look first at the insole.

Carv Insole

This is the clever part of Carv. The insole is packed full of sensors that monitor various parameters of your skiing: edge angle, balance, pressure, G-force, and others.

carv insole
The insole is packed full of sensors that monitor various parameters of your skiing: edge angle, balance, pressure, G-force, and others.

Because it’s sized to your ski boot, if you had a crazy idea of sharing it with someone else they’d have to have a similar Mondo size boot. The insole doesn’t appear to have been designed to be moved regularly from one person’s boot to another –the setup video mentions to take care not to bend the insole excessively when fitting it, suggesting that it might not like being moved between boots frequently.

The insole fits between the boot shell and the liner. Before I took delivery, I was a bit worried about this as my son’s ski boots are fitted for racing and are therefore very tight. I was concerned about the insole raising the foot up and therefore squeezing the top of the foot against the boot. Well, that wasn’t an issue; the insole is amazingly thin, so thin that you don’t know it’s there. If you have moulded insoles (as I do) then don’t worry, they won’t conflict.

carv insole thickness
Well, that wasn’t an issue; the insole is amazingly thin, so thin that you don’t know it’s there.

Carv Tracker

The insole connects to the tracker (one for each boot) via a hard-wired cable to the insole. The cable needs to be disconnected from the tracker to allow it to be recharged. We recharged the batteries every evening so didn’t really road test its endurance. Suffice it to say that it wasn’t a quick charging process, so to avoid losing power when skiing I’d recommend recharging them daily.

carv tracker
The insole connects to the tracker (one for each boot) via a hard-wired cable to the insole.

Carv App

The brains of Carv is the App. We were using iPhones, but there is an Android version. The App provides you with lots of functionality, from drills, to challenges, to monitors, to free sessions. I started with the drills, but quickly (in my dreams) progressed to the free sessions.

I found the drills and challenges a mix of annoying and inspiration. The annoying bit for me was the Super Mario type sounds that resulted from achieving the goals, and not achieving these. But, this pales into insignificance when compared to the improvements to be had in skiing ability. It genuinely does up your game to another level – and beyond. I was able to work on those things that had held me back for years – remember my plateau comment? – and seriously improve my skiing. In fact, I’d honestly say Carv exceeded my expectations.

carv application
The annoying bit for me was the Super Mario type sounds that resulted from achieving the goals, and not achieving these. But, this pales into insignificance when compared to the improvements to be had in skiing ability.

Carv analyses your skiing and awards you a skiing IQ from each of your runs. This IQ is averaged and can be uploaded onto a leaderboard so you can see how good, or bad, you really are. It was very pleasing to see my IQ progress steadily as I worked through the drills and challenges. It was less pleasing to see my son improve faster and move into the top 25, leaving me down in the 80s!

I can see the Carv team continuing to develop the functionality as they learn more about the product. I just hope they don’t get it to the stage where it tells you that maybe you’d be better off trying some other sport – I’ll leave that to my son!

So, who is Carv suitable for. Well, I’d rule out beginners, novices and those improving to intermediate. You need to have become ‘one with your skis’ for Carv to be a benefit; besides, when you’re learning it’s so much fun in a class sharing each other’s experiences – Carv would simply get in the way, and it doesn’t laugh when you fall over. So, I’d suggest Carv is suitable for intermediate/advanced, and even expert. My son is using them to improve his racing skills to great effect.

Overall, Carv is for the dedicated and capable skier and it really is as good as their website claims.

Thanks Andy

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Protest Women’s Lole Softshell Snow Pants Review

As soon as I saw the Protest Lole softshell ski pants I fell in love. I admit it took a while to convince myself to buy them but I’m so glad I did! A week in Alpe D’Huez showed that not only are these trousers incredibly stylish but also warm and comfortable.

The petunia colour and slim fit make these a favourite for my winter wardrobe, and the stretch material made them extremely flexible while still being snug. Not only are they breathable but also waterproof which made for a perfect piece of ski gear.

protest lole softshell snow pants
The petunia colour and slim fit make these a favourite for my winter wardrobe, and the stretch material made them extremely flexible while still being snug.

There are multiple pockets which I could use for my sun cream and lift pass, with a Velcro adjustable waistband which came in handy after a big lunch on the mountainside! The knees and heels are made with reinforced material which made sure they were durable and the material, although unusual, I really liked as opposed to the usual waterproof material.

Skiing around for a week made me fall in love with these trousers and I would definitely recommend them to anyone who loves to look stylish while being sporty!

Thanks Charlotte (Ski Instructor)

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather