Sleepless in the Saddle

Sorry about the delay, but finally you will know the answer to the question you’ve all not been asking: Did we  win Sleepless in the Saddle.

The unsurprising answer is ‘No’.  We came in the bottom ten, I think.  But not last! \o/

Thankfully Sleepless was infinitely more enjoyable than Mountain Mayhem (which wouldn’t have been that hard, admittedly).   I was out third for the Chase Trails Pixies – after Mountain Mayhem’s epic five hour plus lap, the team decided to give me a fighting chance of coming back in daylight.  The weather was decent, our first riders out seemed to be enjoying themselves, and everything looked so promising…


I’d been somewhat hesitant over Sleepless – after Mayhem, I was worried it was going to be another horrible, muddy slogfest.  I consoled myself in the knowledge that, as Sleepless laps were shorter and flatter, they couldn’t possibly be as horrendous.  Fortunately, I set out in glorious sunshine, and my first lap was genuinely enjoyable.   I’m fitter than I was last year, and I found the woodland sections really good fun.  I even overtook a couple of people.  HA!  And, for the first time, I was captured in my full racing glory, which revealed that a) I’m as pink as a flamingo, and b) the older I get, the more I look like my nan.  I think the Dame Edna glasses help that…


Camelbak, MP3 player, and a full susser – I think I scored highly on the Weekend Warrior scale!

However, as was expected, the rain came during my lap.  Just before the off-camber section, the drizzle started, then turned into a full scale torrential downpour.  The off-camber section had been described to me by my teammates that had already gone out as being ‘very loose and dusty’.  By the time I got to it, it was a mudslide.  I was in the process of trying not to slide off the track when who should come a-riding, but THE HUSBAND!  He checked that I was OK, and cheekily declared that he knew he was getting close to me when the rain started.  Feeling somewhat superstitious about my ability to destroy the weather, he sped off into the distance, sans wife.   The course fortunately stood up to the sudden downpour a bit better after that point, and I finished my first lap with a big grin on my face.  Huzzah!  I clocked in at 1 hour 24, which I’m fairly certain I could have done faster if it hadn’t have been for the meddling weather.

My second lap was due at around 10pm.  Despite the fact the one hour downpour had turned the track to sludge, I didn’t feel too apprehensive.  After all, I’d spent hours sliding around Mountain Mayhem in the dark, so I was used to this kind of nonsense, but this time I would have lights!

However, Mr Toast was a bit more concerned, and was trying to persuade me not to go out, pointing out that I’d already proved my stubbornness and stupidity at MM. I was fully reared up and ready to go though… but as I waited, I saw bike after bike being pushed or carried over the finish line.  Petra, a better rider than me, wasn’t back, obviously ‘enjoying’ the course. So yeah, maybe another muddy night lap wasn’t such a great idea.  Back to snuggling in the tent then.

The next morning I got up early (miracles do happen) and set out on my second lap just after Bruce came in.  Again, it started of relatively well – I flew down the first descent at speed, not through any sense of skill or fearlessness, but because I knew that with the mud I’d probably lose control of the Professor if I braked.  I managed to stop at the bottom, just ahead of the fence that hosted a bunch of slightly startled-looking spectators.  The short climb that followed was a mud pit, but the first couple of sections were fine.  Then it all went to hell, and became a muddy, unrideable mess for a fair few sections.  I stopped frequently to scoop out the mud that was collecting in my frame. It was a bit of a slog, but still more bearable than Mountain Mayhem, and the last section was fine – I was even able to get up some speed on it, flinging the mud off my tyres.  It added an hour to my previous lap time, but I wasn’t too fussed.

So, this year’s 24 hour racing has been somewhat of a disaster.  Sleepless was good fun, but it was gutting how one hour of (admittedly very heavy) rain trashed a good chunk of the course, even leading to one section being closed.  I would have like to have done a night lap like last year, but not in this year’s conditions.  Not sure what we’ll be doing next year – I might give Mayhem a miss and sign up for Sleepless nearer the time, and give that a miss if it’s been raining for two months beforehand!  People can be a bit smug and dismissive, but I ride to have fun, and walking through mud pushing a 50lb bike isn’t fun for me.  🙁

Still, got a medal and a couple of race numbers out of it! \o/


July: North of the border

This month we made our annual pilgrimage to Glede Knowe in Innerleithen to celebrate our fourth wedding anniversary.  This year was a little different, as we were in a different room from usual (which was also lovely and slightly bigger) and had Benny Lava in tow.

What wasn’t different was me displaying my usual knack for dates and awesome organisational skills – we turned up on the Saturday.  We were booked in from the Sunday.  Ooops.  As there were three weddings going on in Innerleithen, everywhere was booked out, and it looked like we were going to end up spending the night in the car.  Fortunately, Bill, the B&B owner, was an absolute hero, and found us some really nice accommodation for the night in neighbouring Stow.

Well, as per the rest of the country, the weather was fairly terrible, especially for the first three days.  The trails in Glentress are built to withstand such nonsense, however, and the blue at least rode perfectly.  I was fairly chuffed – this year my fitness and confidence has improved , even if my knees are not the best.  On my first ride, I went up the initial climb up to the Buzzard’s Nest car park in about 25 minutes without stopping and feeling 100% and ready to continue at the top, whereas in previous years it’s been much more of a struggle.  I think I’ve been up to the top before without stopping, but I think it took it out of me a bit more.

The skills course has had a bit of a revamp, which is nice – it’s lost features over the past few years, but now it has spangly new ones.  I really liked the ones that laid the different options – blue, red and black – side by side.




 As we had Benny with us, our first couple of rides were solitary affairs, one walking the dog, one riding. Both of our lonesome rides were in torrential rain, and we got filthy, along with our bikes.  Unfortunately, these rides also coinciding with the days that the Glentress Peel carpark was being redone, so there were no showers and no bike wash.  Derp.

Sometimes we’d both walk the dog though, and be amazed by his talents.  Such as:













On the Thursday and Friday we sent Benny to what Mr Toast kept on referring to as ‘Dog Prison’ – in reality, doggy day care.  Happy Tails picked Benny up in the morning, and I escorted him to the van.  He hopped in the crate, sniffed around and then sat down.  Overall, he was dealing with it better than I was.

We sallied forth to Glentress for our first ride together.  Mr Toast had tackled the red already, and had warned me off it slightly as it wasn’t quite as forgiving as the blue in the wet.  So we flew around the blue, the green, and messed around on the skills course a bit.  Towards the end, I went down the blue and Mr Toast went up to Spooky Wood and down the red.  On my way down, just past the end of the Admiral section, I saw a roe doe deer and her fawn.  They were positively frolicking and sproinging.

The weather was better, but there was still a lot of surface water on the trail so we still got quite soggy. We’re still not keen on the new cafe – the service is slower, the cakes are smaller and less tasty, it feels a bit like a school canteen and there are no tiny birds fluttering around nomming flapjack crumbs.  On the plus side there’s lots of seating and they allow sodden dogs indoors.

In the evening Benny was dropped off, and rather than being traumatised by the separation, he was exceedingly happy.  Win-win all around, and it would be repeated the next day.

We  pretty much repeated the previous day, except I did the climb up to Spooky Wood (which actually seems easier than the preceding shared blue/red climb).  I nearly lost my front wheel in what I thought was a shallow puddle but ended up being a bit deeper than anticipated.  There may have been swearing.  Spooky Wood was good fun, although slightly alarming in places as I tried to keep up with Mr Toast.  My ITB started to burn and tense, and I emerged from the exit crying for a massage.  Aah, the benefits of riding with Mr Toast.

After some leg wiggling, it was time for cheesy Stane photos.


Again in the evening Benny was dropped off.  I apologised for him being excessively pully on the lead, and Carol from Happy Tails looked surprised and said, “Oh, he walks lovely on the lead”.

W. T. F.

 On the last day, we decided to do the black waymarked walking trail.  It actually has the same difficulty rating as the blue rated trail, just longer.  So off we toddled, and GOOD GOD!  OK, it’s not exactly out in the wilds, but there are some very steep awkward parts, and one of the bits was a bit slidey and covered in felled trees.  Some beautiful views though, and lots of variety.






Despite the weather, it was a fantastic week and the trails are bloody good fun.  I look forward to next year!

Coming soon…

The Glentress update is on its way – it’s been mostly written for a few weeks, but for some reason I’m having a few problems uploading photos.  Bah!  There’s a Sleepless update to come after that, too!

Hot preview: We didn’t win SITS.