Sleepless in the Saddle 2009 (UK 24hr xc)

So did anyone else enter SITS this year in the end? From reading stuff on the Singletrack forum it looks like they may not be full yet if anybody fancies a spur-of-the-moment entry.


Nobody then? Not even on bikes?
Think it may be just a bit muddy again…


I’d love to but I need to develop my legs endurance. Next Year! :smiley:

You’ve got three days to train, what are you waiting for :wink:

I doubt they’ll take any entries now anyway - I was just wondering if anyone else had entered. Last year was my first solo attempt and the weather was grim, so I thought I’d give it another go “in better conditions”…! Oh well, they claim to have weatherproofed the course a bit this year - let’s hope they did a good job of that!


Maybe they have erected a long gazebo!! :smiley:

Have Fun!

I expect I will, most of the time. I actually think it’s quite fun riding (or trying to ride) in the slippery mud (as long as it’s not ALL of the course) - it’s the really sticky clay stuff that is really bad, and the off-camber bits on the edge of hills that just fall apart. Hopefully with the damp weather we’ve had they will have avoided the worst of those bits for this year’s course.


I had forgotten SITS was this weekend… our plans for this weekend have just been scuppered so unless anything else happens I might pop along, what with it being in our neck of the woods and all…



here’s hoping they’ve weatherproofed it well. It is really quite muddy out round ours, which is only 20 miles away (and hasn’t had 1000 bikes riding over it).


Cool - I’ll look out for you. You could even ride a couple of laps pretending to be me while I have a rest :wink:

Yes, I’m hoping that as well! They do claim to have done something with gravel and stuff to make the muddiest bits drain better, but if it’s been anything like it has around here for the last few weeks it’s going to be pretty soggy. I’d actually considered not bothering to go, but it would be wussy (and it would be doubly annoying if it did turn out to be a good race). It actually looks like the weather might not be too bad at the weekend - just depends how spongy the ground has got. If they’ve got any sense they’ll have set a course that avoids the worst of the clay. Wet mud is quite fun - sticky clay isn’t. Anyway, just have to wait and see…

This was supposed to be my “give it one more go solo and see how I can do in decent conditions” race. My target last year was ten laps and it was so manky I only managed 7, which sounds really weedy. I’m determined to do better this year whatever it’s like. I’ve got more batteries so I can ride all night on decent lights this time - last year I only had six hours of proper light then did a lap on my puny head torch (I was hoping to be lit by all the bikers but most of them had broken their bikes and given up by then :roll_eyes: ) then decided to wait until it was light (good excuse for a rest anyway), which wasted two or three hours of potential riding time.


Yup, forecast is looking quite good today, although it seems to have been going every which way since Monday, so who knows. At least if it wasn’t raining during the race itself and a few hours before it, it might not get muddy too quickly.

Having enough lights to keep going full out is great - makes such a difference compared to having to worry about whether you’re going to run out the batteries etc.

Have you got a support person or are you doing it solo solo?


I’m getting a lift from Bristol with my parents so I don’t have to be fit to drive home afterwards. They did the same last year, intending to drop me off and go bumming around in their camper van for the weekend, but they got quite into the racing and ended up staying there to spectate. Consequently I did eat some of their food on Saturday evening, which was quite convenient, and they did bring some water over to the track a couple of times to refill my camelbak, so I suppose they were sort of support people (during the day anyway). I suspect the same sort of thing might happen this time.


I’m guessing you’re still asleep, but anyway, how did it go? Much mud?


I’ve just got home about half an hour ago. Absolutely shagged. Will post more later, but briefly:
Quite a lot of the usual horrible sticky mud (but not as much as last year).
Very hot sun.
Lots of really draggy grassy fieldy bits (presumably to avoid the muddiest bits). Rideable but really energy and morale draining.
Some excellent singletrack.
Some crashes.
8 laps. No way I could have physically made another lap - never been so knackered in my life.


The weather had been very wet for the weeks preceding the race but the forecast for the weekend was good. I was expecting the ground to be pretty waterlogged and muddy, and when we arrived at Catton Park on Friday afternoon the mushy wet campsite and filthy bikes confirmed that. But at least it wasn’t raining, and looked like it would stay dry for some time. I set my tent up, signed in, ate food, walked round the trade stands and went to sleep.

The morning of the race was clear and warm - almost too warm. Hopefully the sun would dry up some of the mud. But it was still pretty soggy so I decided to go with my trusty 2.1" Z-max tyre for extra clearance. It stayed on for the whole race.

The morning went quickly with all the usual pre-race faffing and all too soon we were off.

The track was almost the reverse of previous years, with some very steep climbs and lots of horrible draggy spongy grass sections. At the start of the race there was a fair amount of nasty deep mud on the first half of the lap that I couldn’t ride through, but after a few hours a ridable line had developed, but it was still extremely tricky and slippery. The sun beat down relentlessly on the long grassy slogs, but the wooded singletrack allowed some welcome shade. The singletrack on the second half of the lap was actually quite dry, fast and really good fun. It was apparently a 7.5 mile lap but felt much longer. By the time the light was fading I’d done three laps.

I was conscious of the need to eat some real food, so ate a big bowl of soup which went down well. Fitted my lights then out for another lap. The night lap went extremely badly. The rutted plasticene-like mud that I could just about ride in the light became impossible (for me) in the glow of my light and I was all over the place. Ruts and slime kept grabbing the wheel and I was swerving and crashing randomly. The lap took me three hours and I didn’t feel it was safe (for me or the other riders) for me to carry on like that, so I decided to have a rest and go out again at first light.

As soon as it was light enough to see again (just after 5am) I set off with the target of beating last year’s lap count of 7. After another two laps I worked out I had just about enough time to get two more in before the 24 hours, with another one possible if I was feeling good at the end. I was really flagging after the next lap and realised there was no way I could manage another two, so had a little rest to make sure I didn’t finish the next lap too early and be forced out again. I was feeling really grim on my last lap and walked a lot of the climbs, but made it round to the finish. 8 laps. I was absolutely drained - I don’t think I’ve ever pushed myself physically that hard before. Everything still hurts now - my back from all the catching of slides, legs from pedalling, arms and shoulders from crashing, shins and calves covered in pedal bites, insect bites and bramble scratches (I’d decided it was too hot to wear shin pads…)

One odd thing they did this year was to let us ride through the timing tent. Previously they’ve always made us walk through so the sensor in the floor picks up the ankle tag. It may have been OK for bikes who could freewheel though with the tagged foot down, but it seems to have missed one of my laps - they’ve only given me 7 on the results list, and I know I definitely did 8 (I felt every one!)

I found a couple of pictures of me here and here.

A few of mine are attached.


Found another picture :slight_smile:
That was a sort of bank/wall thing we had to ride over at the bottom of a muddy descent - not that hard in itself, but not easy to line up the approach on the slime. I think I made it on about half my laps - this looks like one of the good ones.


Strong work Rob.

That picture you posted may have moved to here

Thanks Neil. Yes that photographer has renamed all his pictures and moved the links. Thanks for posting the new link.


Well done Rob.

A commendable 8 laps is certainly something to be very proud of - nice one.

Good photos as well.


biggest RESPECT! :astonished:

Thanks Steve and Turtle.

My dad’s just emailed a few pictures he took of me racing and a couple of them are really good - I’ll post them here, or perhaps in the “latest rides” thread when I’ve sorted them out.