Sessioning: my favorite way to practice mountain bike skills and more fun in a group

The first time I noticed the words ‘session’ and ‘sessioning’ was in the All Mountain Mondays at Leb message thread in the MORC forum a couple weeks ago.

AJ Peterson wrote:

Just wondering what makes this ride “All Mountain” vs any other ride at Leb? Do you guys stop and session jumps etc?

Dave Tait wrote:

Well, for me, the difference from the “Leb Mafia” group I normally ride with is it’s less of a pace driven ride and a more “hit stuff” attitude toward all the options and jump opportunities. It means hitting a log ride doesn’t require beating a$$ to catch back up and sessioning stuff is an option. Turns out, it’s pretty much the type of ride I do when I ride solo. The pace is still pretty quick but not borderline XC race pace.

Zach Monack wrote:

Doesn’t matter how much travel your bike has, its more how you want to ride it. The pace and style of the ride changes depending on who shows up and what everyone in is in the mood for. Sometimes we’ll stop and session, other times we might just keep rolling. One thing is for sure though, no one is racing to the top of any of the climbs!

I had an idea what they meant but I found a long description by someone named ‘Robb’ posted to Bike198 titled How To Become A Better Mountain Biker; Part 2 – Sessioning: The MTB Art of “Practice Makes Perfect”. Here’s an excerpt:

sessioning… picking out a small section of trail and doing it over and over again until you get it right. As the saying goes, “practice makes perfect” and how are you going to become a better rider if you don’t practice? No one expects you to be perfect the first time out, so take your time and get it right. The more you do this kind of “redo”, the better rider you will become. Sessioning is the art of practicing and developing your skills in areas that you are not as proficient in. It is simple as that. These skills that you pick up through practicing hard sections of trail carry on into every aspect of riding. This is…by far…the #1 tip that has improved my riding ability and skills. Nothing else I have done has jump started my ability to become a better rider than sessioning.

Clay Haglund at Hillside Park in Elk River Griff Wigley, Clay Haglund Ken Barker at Lebanon Hills

I did sessioning twice in the past week, first with Clay Haglund of MAMB a week ago Saturday at Hillside Park in Elk River and then last Thursday with Ken Barker of LAMBA at Lebanon Hills in Eagan.

Like Dave Tait, I do this often when I ride solo. But like I did over the years practicing my mototrials skills with fellow members of the UMTA, it’s so much more fun to do it with someone else or a group.  And in one of the mototrials schools I attended at the Trials Training Center, the advice was to keep at it until you could clean it three times in a row, as consistency is a pretty good indicator of an acquired skill. Nailing something once might be just dumb luck.

I’ve not yet done the All Mountain Mondays at Leb but I’ll report back when I do, hopefully with better photos than my sessioning with Clay and Ken.