Aren’t we all looking for the ultimate descend? Coasting down a mountain without breaks and no end in sight? The longer the trail, the more fun it is and the more you can tune into your flow state while riding. It’s either the flow or beating your strava record time that makes you want to ride a trail without stopping. And there’s nothing wrong with that.
But have you ever had the feeling that you’re not progressing anymore? Is there something that limits you in your ability to go faster on your hometrail?
A very effective way to make improvements is section training – most pro riders do it on a regular basis and therefore we want to dig a little deeper here.
Sacrifice some flow and boost performance
Section training means dividing the trail into a couple segments and riding them repeatedly. Think of it as reading a good science book: Chapter by chapter, reviewing every chapter before continuing with the next one.
It requires some effort, though. We know it´s annoying to sacrifice a full run down and to walk your bike uphill countless times.
But if you pause for a while to master a section of the trail, you’ll feel much more confident the next time you´re riding the whole trail. It will ultimately increase your riding performance and the fun you´re having – and we´ll tell you how it´s done.
Spotting the best line
It helps a lot to pick and try different lines until you find the one that works best for you.
The best way to do that is with a couple of friends. Observe each other while riding and turn it into a fun gathering in search of the best line choice. Walk the line first and check for obstacles, rocks and roots. Think about at which speed and angle you can hit the corners.
When it comes to sketchy jumps, follow a confident rider through it first before trying on your own. This way you can get a feeling for the right speed. However, that doesn´t mean we want you to jump off the next cliff just because there is someone else doing it. Keep in mind that risk vs. reward balance!
A good routine is to have some section practice on a quarter of your riding days. This way you’re getting used to observing and choosing lines. But you can always stop spontaneously to analyze a tough section. However, it is important that on some riding days you don´t stop at all – this will build endurance.
It helps a lot to make videos so that you can review your line choice and technique. And it´s just fun and motivating to have some footage of your riding day to put into a rad instagram story. If we get together for a section training session, we also write stuff down when noticing room for improvement – e.g. “always losing confidence on that root section” “not looking far enough ahead while cornering”. By doing that, we can define our weaknesses and focus on them.
How much of your time on the trails you should set aside for section training depends on your goals and your type of riding. Downhill riders generally do it more frequently – especially those who race.
Section Training will improve your riding
Once you managed to become faster on single sections, do a full run. You’ll see that your view on the trail is different now.
You won´t need to concentrate on obstacles and line choice as much. This will free your mind and allow you to focus more on going faster and on putting new techniques into practice.
Moreover, section training helps develop a general feeling for how to deal with various riding situations. The experience you´re gaining will boost your confidence on any new trail! Remember, it´s like that good science book!
Get on your bike and try it
Do you practise trail sections regularly? Or do you not bother at all?
Let us hear your thoughts!