Report: Sleepless in the Saddle 2012

Report: Sleepless in the Saddle 2012

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| 4-5 August 2012
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The 2012 edition of Sleepless in the Saddle 24-hour enduro continued the trend for muddy racing which has been the story of mountain biking for many this summer.

Rob Crayton's Slideshow


Although the event began on a dry course in hot sunshine, two short but intense storms - the latter accompanied by thunder and lightning – in the late afternoon saturated the whole area and within minutes the passage of hundreds of riders began to chew the woodland sections into a thick, slippery mud.

Old hands resignedly reached for their mud tyres and ploughed on, whilst many just continued to slog round with mud sticking to tyres, wheels, frames, shoes and bodies.

Organiser Pat Adams is a sympathetic man who appreciates and understands the efforts the riders make in his events and he was quick to organise a rider vote which resulted in the removal of a fun new section of singletrack at the extreme northern end of the course, which the rain had rendered impossible to ride.

Although a watery sunshine occasionally re-appeared, the rapid arrival of late summer dusk meant that the mud had little opportunity to dry before darkness enveloped the course. Dryer lines gradually emerged in the wee small hours, but it was mid-morning on the Sunday before the going became significantly better. Ironically, the event finished in bright sunshine.

Riders line up for the start in bright sunshine

With the weather’s interventions, it’s sometimes easy to forget that Sleepless is a race. However, at the end of the 24 hours it’s time to tally up the hundreds of laps and announce the winners.

In the elite men’s race, it was the Cycle Shack/ Forme Coaching quartet of Matt Gee, Dan Fleeman, Matt Dennis and Ian Wright who took the spoils, banging in 30 laps, nine more than their closest rivals, the Displaced Northerners.

The Female Pairs saw the Pink Heifers duo of Sally Buckworth and Emma Eaton completing 16 laps, twice the number of their closest rivals. Male Pairs winners, Lumicycle’s John and Stuart Prentice, knocked out 26 laps to win their race by 4 laps from the Grimey Lymies. The Mixed Pair category went to Lee Appleton and Alison Gilgun with 12 laps.

The solo categories always attract interest and admiration in equal amounts at Sleepless and the women’s winner was Tracy Evans with 10 laps. She overhauled early leader Paula Bourke on her third lap and never looked back again, winning by 2 laps from Jessica Gray. The men’s solo saw Chris Edmondson make all the early running, but Pete Crawforth gradually reeled him in during the last third of the race, eventually going on to win by 2 laps.

The women’s teams competition was one of the fiercest of the weekend, with the eventual winners, Four4th Lights (Louise Mahe, Louise Robinson, Hannah Bussey and Ali Ford) always just having the upper hand over the Singletrackworld Gritty Kittys, drawing ahead by half an hour or so at the mid-race point and extending that to a full lap by the end of the race, completing 23 laps in the process.

There was a similar story in the men’s teams, with Nevis Cycles Woo Haa Eccosse (Alex Johnson, Ben Miller, Chris Bell and Michael Bossard) building a lead slowly but surely over the Army Cycling team, eventually going on to complete 29 laps to win by a lap.

Finally, in the mixed teams, British Cycling 1 (Dan Small, Craig Blain, Keith Evans, Laura Battista and Phil Ingham) maintained a consistent pace throughout their 26 laps to win by 2 laps from the Kenda Happy Medium quintet.

Below - a rider receives his well-deserved hand-shake from organiser Pat Adams after crossing the finishing line