Sessioning

I once wrote “Sessioning is not Strava.

And it isn’t, sessioning, stopping mid trail to push back up and practice a corner, drop or feature does not win PBs and KOMs. Or does it? Sure, on any particular ride a sessioned trail will sit you at a time of 20 to 30 minutes instead of 2:30 on Strava.

But surely its obvious, that never stopping to assess the trail, to practise specific skills and only riding the Strava race, is counter intuitive to progression? Inarguably Strava will make you faster, too a point, by encouraging you to attack and ride with the clock counting against you in your head.

But riding like this will only get you so far, you plateau as you ride the line you know rather than the best line. You ride on your subconscious rather than practising conscious efforts.

Again you could argue that setting a specific skills goal for a days ride, better body position, being less of a passenger on drops and rock gardens will make you better. But riding a full trail with goals like this is tiring and you will forget and revert to your ingrained riding style.

Also sessioning with friends and ideally, better riders, will encourage progression even further. When you are attempting a feature repeatedly by yourself, you cant see what your doing right and more importantly wrong. Watching more accomplished riders attacking the same trail that you are riding will show you better ways of riding, better lines and more dynamic riding styles.

The winter is a perfect time to develop your bike handling, the ground gets more challenging and your body english has a bigger part to play. No room for passengers in the slop.

In winter training, you traditionally think long boring rides and base miles. And whilst building fitness is important, so is building skills. Picking a specific type of feature and breaking down the body movements, technique and deliberately practising until it becomes an unconscious effort, rather than conscious effort, is where gains for the coming year will be made.

Ride without Strava sometime, see if you ride differently.

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New Year, More Miles

New year, same me, but time to get some miles in the legs to get over the festive excess.

Christmas and new year, the winter is at its height and the draw of a warm well stocked kitchen is all too strong. Time to recharge, relax and celebrate the season with family and friends. With the end of the festivities it was time to assess the damage done and get some bases miles and climbs in the legs.

I also wanted to try a long ride with a packless setup, I had planed to do this on the Tour De Ben I pulled out of a few months back. Whilst nothing new and the norm for many distance and marathon type riders all my long wild rides were with a pack and the kitchen sink. I wanted to get as much of the weight off my back and onto the frame or in pocketsas possible whilst bringing everything I needed if it went wrong.

This meant two water bottles in cages,  tube, levers and CO2 cart with inflator taped under the saddle. Everything else (phone, multi tool, spare link, mech hanger, cable, camera and vitamin I) went in my Race Face Rip strip with a healthy number of gels and a banana in my softshell pockets for easy access. Simples, nothing crazy just a new set up for me.

it was time to assess the damage done and get some bases miles and climbs in the legs

I fancied some climbing and I had unfinished business with the Fungle Singletrack after my last aborted attempt. So a big loop to take that in and back to the house via the Deeside way, nothing too exciting, just some honest solid base miles.

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The conditions where pretty good for a long mission, the ground was wet but rolling well, not to cold, with some scotch mist that never really lifted.

The Fungle was fun as always, but I forgot to drop my seat post for the first third, so was a bit Bambi on ice for the loose rocky section. Once into it, it was pretty fast all things considered, but that clean run alluded me. I will have to come back and properly cane it with the new build, but not until next month.

The return leg had nothing to report, just a leg spin on flattish and mostly graded trails. Some good miles and a gentle reminder of the work to be done to get back to full summer strength. Roll on 2017.

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Bex Baraona – Privateer

Bex Baraona has had a pretty good season this year.

Finishing the Enduro World Series ranked 7th overall she was the highest ranked privateer in the pro women or mens categories. Being a privateer, she was without the support of a team covering the logistics and allowing her to focus on the racing. She had to manage all of that as well as other commitments, yet with all of that she attended each stage of the EWS this year.

I first became aware of Bex when I saw her in a Tom Caldwell video where she was absolutely hauling through some pretty slick and wet trails. Fast forward a year and she has launched herself at the Enduro World Series and made a pretty sizeable impression in her first year.

With the 2017 season already firmly in her mind she is raising funds to pay for the logistics of another full year of racing. To do this she is having a pretty special raffle (more on that later), so I fired across some questions for her on the past year and her thoughts on the current state of women in enduro.


Congratulations on your 2016 season, where there any particular stand out moments from the year?

EWS Round 5, in Valberg, was hands down the best race weekend for me. It was my best performance during the season with consistent 3rd-6th stage finishes, ending the race in 5th. Hell of a feeling when the current world champ, Cecile Ravanel, taps you on the shoulder and congratulates you for getting 3rd on the previous stage. Mint!

You raced at every stage this year, how important to the overall ranking is attending each race?

It is pretty important, not only for your overall result but also it helps you progress as a rider. My performance increased race on race and I’d say that was mainly down to learning at each round and feeling comfortable at the different venues.

Racing as a privateer is big commitment, how did you balance the demands of training and racing with your other commitments.

I was lucky in 2016 as I was a student, the training facilities are great, student finance is even better, but mainly it just allowed me to be flexible. However, I was in my final year so it was quite stressful to get my dissertation written and my exams passed. For me, university was more important at the time, as I had one shot to do it, so my training really suffered come exam period.

In the top 20 there are no privateer men but in the top 20 women there are 8, is it harder for women to get signed to factory teams?

I think the women are starting to get more recognised. I suppose it is all proportional, there are usually 300+ men and only 50+ women, so it makes sense that less are sponsored. That said, I think a lot of brands and teams are missing some amazing exposure and marketing by not sponsoring a female on a team. I really look forward to the day when I find a team as excited as me to promote the products, test and develop and ultimately win races and prove the equipment to be world class.

Are women at the pro level of enduro currently under supported by the factory teams?

I think there is a good number of supported women, however, I do think the EWS should require all affiliated teams to have at least 1 woman on the team- it would be great to see some guidelines and involvement from the top on the issue. In terms of salary and support, well that is given…you sell more bikes for the brand=you get paid more. I think the athlete has to find their strengths and roll with that. Are you a lifestyle athlete? A competitive athlete? Or a quirky/unique athlete? There is no problem with who you chose to be in the industry, I just know that I want to win races.


To fund her 2017 season Bex has calculated that she will need somewhere in the region of £20,000 to attend all the races and the support needed. By no means a small sum of money, people buy houses with deposits smaller than this.

Whilst sponsors are more than happy to support with products and in kind services, few are willing (or able) to put their hands in their pockets and provide cash funds. To raise the funds needed to attend the full season is one of the biggest challenges for any privateer. To raise her war chest Baraona is having a rather special raffle.

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A fixed ticket raffle with only 200 tickets available at a cost of £50 each, now that sounds a lot for a raffle ticket until you see the prize list. 101 prizes ranging from tyres, carbon wheelsets and a Transition Patrol race ready bike. So with a slightly better than 50% chance of winning, there is more than enough incentive for those who don’t even enter a Euro millions rollover.

More importantly you will be supporting and helping one of the UK’s most talented young enduro riders. Hopefully she will sellout her raffle and fully fund her EWS campaign, and hopefully, win the podiums and factory support she deserves.

Enter the raffle HERE  

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