A strange title, perhaps, but by sessioning I mean riding a mountain bike trail several times in succession to learn it’s intricacies. This may allow you to go quicker the more times you ride the segment but today I was also keen to make riding the unfamiliar safer.
I used the roads to reach the village of Rivington then climbed off road to my target which was a downhill trail of just over a quarter of a mile, dropping 203 feet. Obviously, starting at the bottom, I first had to climb the 203 feet and used the higher part of the segment in question for my first ascent. This allowed me to check the trickier features on the way up and stop for some photos.
There are 2 climbs over broken down stone walls in the first half. I set off from the top at a good speed, leapt over the first wall and mainly rode to the side of the ruts. If I got a wheel stuck in a rut it could have thrown me off the bike and I could sometimes take a straighter route by missing the ruts. The second wall is at the top of a steep dip so you need to push your weight back to avoid being thrown forwards at the bottom. I took it a little too quickly on my second attempt which fully compressed my suspension fork. This may have been because a rider had started the section a short time ahead of me and I couldn’t resist trying to go faster.
I chatted briefly to the rider as we started to climb for my third attempt before he turned in a different direction. We agreed that it’s one of the best downhills in the area. I only discovered it recently whilst walking the dog even though I’ve ridden the area for 30 years. I’d had 2 previous rides down before today and felt my safety improve as I learnt the trail in detail. I knew where the ruts were and how to tackle the trickier parts. What the app. Strava revealed was not that I got quicker but that I was very consistent with times of 1 minute 11, 1 minute 12 and a final time of 1 minute 11!
My times were in the top 25% of all riders even after so little practice though the King of the Mountains time is an unbridgeable gulf of 17 seconds quicker. On a brighter note, in my age category I beat the incumbent by a whole second, rendering me King of the Middle aged Mountains!
With over 600 feet of climbing in my 3 short laps I recorded a total of 1,607 feet of ascent in 12.53 miles. I also collected not one but two Stava trophies. One was for 4th fastest rider ever on an extended version of Graveyard which I took after my third downhill. The other was for sixth fastest on a full lap up from the bottom of Graveyard followed by my second descent. Interestingly the downhill took me 1 minute 12 seconds but the climb back up took 10 minutes 29. It was a thrilling ride and after seeing my Strava results I was, as the youth might say, stoked. (In truth they probably don’t say stoked anymore and would laugh at me for using an outmoded word.)