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Shimano Sleepless in the Saddle

One thing’s for sure – Shimano Sleepless in the Saddle is no longer the little brother to Mountain Mayhem. With over 1,800 riders, SITS 2004 was “the largest 24 hour event in the world this year,” according to intermittent commentator Chipps Chippendale. That’s an achievement to be proud of. When it comes to 24 hour races, Britain’s where it’s at!


A journey across space and time

One vital thing that SSMM and SITS have in common is Pat Adams and his team. Pat always does a faultless job. As he shakes hands with all of the finishers at the end of an event I’m never sure who’s congratulating whom. Pat’s pact with the weather gods looked a bit shaky at Mountain Mayhem, but it was clearly back in force for SITS. Unfortunately the deal doesn’t extend to the week leading up to the event, during which the whole of the British Isles seemed to receive more than its fair share of rainfall. This deluge lead to a heavy but not waterlogged course – a little more drag than usual and in some places it felt more like riding through glue than mud. Although it made the going a little tougher, the impact was only small with spirits being high and lap times low.


The BM Team: (L to R) Leif Roy, Mark Dangerfield, Rory Hitchens, Aaron Young

I don’t know if it has anything to do with the time of year, but my team preparations were thwarted from the beginning. I lost all original team-mates through holidays, weddings, illness and short term travel plans [And that was just my excuses – Mike]. Then the “almost guaranteed” replacement members were double-booked with weddings and more weddings – I wish guys would check their calendars or consult their wives more often. Thankfully the team was saved with the last-minute recruitment of Leif Roy and Aaron Young from Kiwi mountain bike mag Spoke and event stalwart Rory Hitchens from USE.

Having got all of the panicking out of the way beforehand the actual race was fairly uneventful for us. We had a few troubles with one of our rider’s bikes but luckily Krien from Vario offered us one of his test bikes for the event which turned out to be a life saver (we’ll let you know our initial thoughts on the bike in a week or so).

Come evening and Rory wanted to give his new Exposure lights a thorough workout. So conventional 24 hour strategy went straight out of the window with Rory heading out at midnight and doing six laps straight while the rest of the team rested up ready to bring it home on day two. As a result yours truly didn’t get the opportunity to ride the course at night, but to be honest I was much happier to be laying in my tent listening to police helicopters for what must have been THE WHOLE DAMN NIGHT. East LA anyone?

With this extra bit of time on my hands I had the opportunity to have a look around camp to see what was on offer from some of the exhibitors. Vario had its full range on show, including an aluminium XC hard tail, a freeride hardtail, an XC full suspension bike (which we should have a review of later in the year) and their burly looking freeride bike. They’re all a little different to the current fare on the market today and the French are known for their styling differences, but the bikes look more than reasonable in the flesh and the freeride versions look like they have been tried and tested in the Alps and not the car park.


The Kaktus and the Ikso

We had a sneaky peak in the very busy Specialized tent to have a look at their new ladies’ Stumpjumper FSR. It’s very similar to the men’s bike but with slightly more woman-friendly dimensions and accessories like saddle, stem and cranks. They have a very sexy metallic paint – one rider likened the (not coming to the UK) red finish to lipstick which put me in a real tizz (we won’t go into detail). Note the “120” decal – could be a clue of things to come.


Sexy bikes for the ladies

Opposite Specialized, Titus was also showing off a woman-specific full-susser. The Racer X is suitable for riders down to 4’11”. Elsewhere in the range, the popularity of singlespeed setups has led Titus to including its adjustable dropouts on several high-end hardtail frames for 2005. And a quick mention for the Titus road bike, which has one of the best names on the market – the Drop-U.


A little bit of everything

A nice little setup

One of the best sneaky peaks was getting to look at and play with the new Exposure lights. The main feature of the lights is that the light and the battery are contained in one unit, kind of like a small torch. No more cables wrapped around the frame, extra bottle cages or Velcroed-on battery packs. These things are completely self-contained – one small bracket on the bars and you’re ready to go. The two 5W “Super LEDs” have a light output equivalent to that of a 32W halogen bulb. The low power consumption and all-alloy construction helps them to run cool, too – we used them to illuminate our tent without any overheating. There are three settings; high, low and flashing. Run time is a claimed 2.5-3 hours in the high setting and over eight hours in the low setting. Because of the nature of the Li_ion battery you can treat them like your cell phone and put them on charge whenever you need to. At a planned £265 retail price and a range of anodised colours (bring on the purple) these could be the must-have night accessory this winter. I would definitely recommend you have a good look at these.

With the dawn of day two, the sun started to set on Rory’s campaign. After six hours on the trot and two sausages he was starting to look a little haggard and in much need of a rest. After a good solid, if not excruciatingly painful, massage, I was free to take over and push up all the hills to my heart’s content. The final eight hours were taken care of by the three lads from down under, driven on by Vogel bread and Vegemite.


The flying Hitchens

Towards the end of the race we were pleased to find that the tactic of riding Rory until he broke had worked out well for us, with the other three riders feeling pretty fresh. With 2pm approaching I resisted the temptation to lurk, and pushed on for the 24th lap – which I must point out, is not the glory lap that everyone makes it out to be. For a start, everyone else is showered, changed and packed away while you’re still cranking round… It’s often said of enduro events that the having done is better than the doing, but I can honestly say that I enjoyed all aspects of this year’s SITS. From the unfeasibly long run at the start to the sweet descent into the quary, from police helicopters in the middle of the night to Jo Burt’s flaming wall of Doritos. From gloopy mud to meat in a can at ten at night, I enjoy the vibe of these big events. There’s no place I’d rather be than sitting in a field with a whole gaggle of like minded happy individuals. Some may say that racing is on the out, but I hope these big events are here to stay.

Thanks to Pat Adams and his big team of supporters, paid and unpaid. Each time I attend one of these events I feel that I am at something a little bit special. And what really makes it so is that mountain bikers really are something different. Then again, those soloists are something different again. Bloody nutters.

Lastly, our photographer took 3,650 pictures at the event. No small task when you consider that that’s an average of 2.5 photos per minute over the whole 24 hour period.

The photos can now be found here.

Share

News

Shimano Sleepless in the Saddle

One thing’s for sure – Shimano Sleepless in the Saddle is no longer the little brother to Mountain Mayhem. With over 1,800 riders, SITS 2004 was “the largest 24 hour event in the world this year,” according to intermittent commentator Chipps Chippendale. That’s an achievement to be proud of. When it comes to 24 hour races, Britain’s where it’s at!


A journey across space and time

One vital thing that SSMM and SITS have in common is Pat Adams and his team. Pat always does a faultless job. As he shakes hands with all of the finishers at the end of an event I’m never sure who’s congratulating whom. Pat’s pact with the weather gods looked a bit shaky at Mountain Mayhem, but it was clearly back in force for SITS. Unfortunately the deal doesn’t extend to the week leading up to the event, during which the whole of the British Isles seemed to receive more than its fair share of rainfall. This deluge lead to a heavy but not waterlogged course – a little more drag than usual and in some places it felt more like riding through glue than mud. Although it made the going a little tougher, the impact was only small with spirits being high and lap times low.


The BM Team: (L to R) Leif Roy, Mark Dangerfield, Rory Hitchens, Aaron Young

I don’t know if it has anything to do with the time of year, but my team preparations were thwarted from the beginning. I lost all original team-mates through holidays, weddings, illness and short term travel plans [And that was just my excuses – Mike]. Then the “almost guaranteed” replacement members were double-booked with weddings and more weddings – I wish guys would check their calendars or consult their wives more often. Thankfully the team was saved with the last-minute recruitment of Leif Roy and Aaron Young from Kiwi mountain bike mag Spoke and event stalwart Rory Hitchens from USE.

Having got all of the panicking out of the way beforehand the actual race was fairly uneventful for us. We had a few troubles with one of our rider’s bikes but luckily Krien from Vario offered us one of his test bikes for the event which turned out to be a life saver (we’ll let you know our initial thoughts on the bike in a week or so).

Come evening and Rory wanted to give his new Exposure lights a thorough workout. So conventional 24 hour strategy went straight out of the window with Rory heading out at midnight and doing six laps straight while the rest of the team rested up ready to bring it home on day two. As a result yours truly didn’t get the opportunity to ride the course at night, but to be honest I was much happier to be laying in my tent listening to police helicopters for what must have been THE WHOLE DAMN NIGHT. East LA anyone?

With this extra bit of time on my hands I had the opportunity to have a look around camp to see what was on offer from some of the exhibitors. Vario had its full range on show, including an aluminium XC hard tail, a freeride hardtail, an XC full suspension bike (which we should have a review of later in the year) and their burly looking freeride bike. They’re all a little different to the current fare on the market today and the French are known for their styling differences, but the bikes look more than reasonable in the flesh and the freeride versions look like they have been tried and tested in the Alps and not the car park.


The Kaktus and the Ikso

We had a sneaky peak in the very busy Specialized tent to have a look at their new ladies’ Stumpjumper FSR. It’s very similar to the men’s bike but with slightly more woman-friendly dimensions and accessories like saddle, stem and cranks. They have a very sexy metallic paint – one rider likened the (not coming to the UK) red finish to lipstick which put me in a real tizz (we won’t go into detail). Note the “120” decal – could be a clue of things to come.


Sexy bikes for the ladies

Opposite Specialized, Titus was also showing off a woman-specific full-susser. The Racer X is suitable for riders down to 4’11”. Elsewhere in the range, the popularity of singlespeed setups has led Titus to including its adjustable dropouts on several high-end hardtail frames for 2005. And a quick mention for the Titus road bike, which has one of the best names on the market – the Drop-U.


A little bit of everything

A nice little setup

One of the best sneaky peaks was getting to look at and play with the new Exposure lights. The main feature of the lights is that the light and the battery are contained in one unit, kind of like a small torch. No more cables wrapped around the frame, extra bottle cages or Velcroed-on battery packs. These things are completely self-contained – one small bracket on the bars and you’re ready to go. The two 5W “Super LEDs” have a light output equivalent to that of a 32W halogen bulb. The low power consumption and all-alloy construction helps them to run cool, too – we used them to illuminate our tent without any overheating. There are three settings; high, low and flashing. Run time is a claimed 2.5-3 hours in the high setting and over eight hours in the low setting. Because of the nature of the Li_ion battery you can treat them like your cell phone and put them on charge whenever you need to. At a planned £265 retail price and a range of anodised colours (bring on the purple) these could be the must-have night accessory this winter. I would definitely recommend you have a good look at these.

With the dawn of day two, the sun started to set on Rory’s campaign. After six hours on the trot and two sausages he was starting to look a little haggard and in much need of a rest. After a good solid, if not excruciatingly painful, massage, I was free to take over and push up all the hills to my heart’s content. The final eight hours were taken care of by the three lads from down under, driven on by Vogel bread and Vegemite.


The flying Hitchens

Towards the end of the race we were pleased to find that the tactic of riding Rory until he broke had worked out well for us, with the other three riders feeling pretty fresh. With 2pm approaching I resisted the temptation to lurk, and pushed on for the 24th lap – which I must point out, is not the glory lap that everyone makes it out to be. For a start, everyone else is showered, changed and packed away while you’re still cranking round… It’s often said of enduro events that the having done is better than the doing, but I can honestly say that I enjoyed all aspects of this year’s SITS. From the unfeasibly long run at the start to the sweet descent into the quary, from police helicopters in the middle of the night to Jo Burt’s flaming wall of Doritos. From gloopy mud to meat in a can at ten at night, I enjoy the vibe of these big events. There’s no place I’d rather be than sitting in a field with a whole gaggle of like minded happy individuals. Some may say that racing is on the out, but I hope these big events are here to stay.

Thanks to Pat Adams and his big team of supporters, paid and unpaid. Each time I attend one of these events I feel that I am at something a little bit special. And what really makes it so is that mountain bikers really are something different. Then again, those soloists are something different again. Bloody nutters.

Lastly, our photographer took 3,650 pictures at the event. No small task when you consider that that’s an average of 2.5 photos per minute over the whole 24 hour period.

The photos can now be found here.

Share

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