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.