Sleepless in the Saddle has had a facelift. For 2005 the venue shifted from the much-liked Trentham Gardens to regular NPS (and Enduro Plus) host Catton Hall and a new title sponsor, Kona, have stepped up. It had also moved around in the calendar, all of which contributed to a turnout that, at about 1,200 riders, was down on 2004 but still pretty massive.
The attraction of Sleepless has always been a down to earth atmosphere, and a much friendlier vibe in general, especially when out on a lap – there’re a lot fewer aggro neo-pros zipping past. With Mountain Mayhem getting ever more glossy and corporate, it’s great that Sleepless remains a little less intimidating, especially to less experienced eventers.
As ever, the one word on everybody’s lips during the first part of the weekend was “weather”, and the intentions thereof. A generous downpour in the preceding week had thankfully left little evidence of its passing, so it was semi-slicks and 45psi all round. We had more than a shock when it began raining late Saturday evening however, though it was only to be a very short shower.
This brief shower did something to liven the course up a little, and we can’t help thinking that it needed it. We understand that it’s not easy finding a venue that can handle the basic essentials of a few thousand people, like a water supply, while being in a fairly central location and within easy access to motorways and so on, but the 6.7mile course was hardly exciting. It was fast though – riders of Nick Craig’s ilk were lapping in 26-28mins, while many more were managing to get round in less than 40mins. It certainly makes for a shift it strategy if you’re used to Mayhem’s hour-plus laps.
The night laps were the highlight for many. We borrowed an Edison 5 from Lupine, and had a blast. There’s considerably more darkness compared to Mountain Mayhem, and a serene silence fell across the campsite as people dug in and concentrated on getting through the night. The night laps seem to drag by, but as soon as the sun pops up we’re rushing towards the 2pm finish.
Both the Bikemagic.com and SheCycles.com teams got through the night, and continued riding well right up to the finish at 2pm. In the four-man Bikemagic team we had myself, Gary Jennings, George ‘Gfunk’ Fisher and BM reader Robin Smith (aka Free Wheelin’ Franklin). We squeezed in 37 laps for a fine 48th position.
Even better was the SheCycles.com mixed team. It was a classic last minute scramble for riders, but BM readers Jack Dokic, Mark Allport and Richard Munro teamed up with Claire Jennings and Karen Burt. The rode superbly well to complete 37laps, putting them into 21st place.
Our publishing partners Shred entered Nigel Muntz, Richie ‘Ratboy’ Rowland, Steve Toze and Andy Carnell and bagged a fantastic 15th place.
More impressive were the 50 laps by Team Scott UK, 36 by Solo men’s winner, Neil Harrison and a big win for Kate Potter with 31 laps in Solo Women. The Specialized Starlets women’s team continued their habit for winning with 36 laps.
Our photographer returned with a couple of thousand photos. They’re completely free, and all sorted by race number. Go have a look.
And for the Stattos amongst you, the full results are available (at another place) ready to be analysed.