Memories from the SHIMANO 24HR-03, sleepless in the saddle, 9/10 August 2003, Trentham Gardens, Staffordshire, UK.


Having attempted the '24 Hours of Adrenalin race' in Canmore, Canada, the previous year (see WWW) 4 of the 7 team members decided to try one of the UK 24 hour events. We had heard that 'Sleepless in the Saddle' would be the more technical and therefore suit our brute force and ignorance approach, instead of the fit and fast approach of the Saab/Salamon.


Our mixed team of 5, under the “Double Dutch Pancake Bar.com” banner, were competing against 83 other teams. The team consisted of the following:

Brian Tear (the Runner)
Gary Hill (the Smiler)
Guy Exley (Mad Max-light)
Richard Mann (Mad Mann)
Martine Verweij (Mad Maiden)
The Double Dutch base camp erected on Friday with a ride of the 8 mile course early evening.

photo 1: Richard & Megan - Camp set-up
photo 2: Guy, Gary & carrie - Relaxing in the DDPB Camp

The circuit consisted of a steady climb at the start to a fast lap of the lake turning off up the first hard climb followed by great Rolla coaster single track back down to another flattish track through the woods and then up the biggest climb to top of the highest hill and around an old quarry to drop down a really steep loose descent back into good single track through the woods and the finish.

Saturday - last minute tinkering to the bikes with a rear break calliper change to Richards bike as it was binding badly with jammed pistons... Gary's spare Maxlight came to the rescue.

2 pm start with Brain heading us off with the 3/4 mile run and the first lap in 36 degree heat!! Team order was then Gary, Guy, Richard and Martine. Tactics of not blowing up on the first lap worked with very consist times from everyone. Stats were I think... 33 laps in 23hrs 19 mins 264 miles covered one puncture (Martine) and one loose rear wheel (Richard).

Ridiculously hot start followed by a pleasantly cool night and misty morning that turned into storms by 11am turning the circuit into a mud bath!

As they turned off the computers on the last lap we were not sure where we have come but hoped we'd finish  between 6 and 10 out of estimated 83 teams in the mixed category, which would be a great effort from everyone.

Fantastic weekend and a great circuit that kept its interest every lap especially in the mud! 

The Race

The race started at 2pm with Brian covering the three quarter mile run in his rigid cycling shoes in good time such that his first lap (1) including the run was only 48 minutes. We hadn't worked out where the results tent was yet, so were unsure as to our early position. Gary goes out for the second lap (2) and gets a good clear run making it round in 38:30 minutes.  We knew it was to be a hot day and from our experiences of Canada we decided to aim for consistent lap times and try not to over do it on our first few laps. Guy knocked out a 40 minute lap (3), followed by Richard's 46 (4)  and Martines 42 (5).
photo 3: Martine (click to enlarge).
It was around now that we heard the results for the top 10 mixed teams over the tanoy. We were not mentioned. Brian 41:57 (6), Gary 38:00 (7), Guy 41:14 (8), Richard 45:09 (9) and Martine 43:01 (10) (on the twilight lap) all knocked out the second lap with surprising consistency - no crashes or mechanical failures (so far).
photo 4: Guy (click to enlarge).
The next announcement we heard was that we were 10th. Gary T (our 6th team member went in search of the results tent and found it). Brian (11) was to be the first person likely to need his lights, so we all fitted our lights. Gary (12) was the second to go out on a dark lap and surprised himself with a sub 40 minute lap. Our tactics seemed to be working, together with the drop in temperature and our familiarity with the course.
photo 5:  Richard (click to enlarge).
Guys night lap (13) went well, then Martine (14) pinch flatted losing her some time. Richard (15) did surprisingly well on his first ever night ride and with new lights. Another round of night laps for everyone with very little resting in between. This brought us around to Brian (21) finishing off the night laps before Gary (22) led out for the dawn with one headlight for the wooded sections. The dawn view around the lake with the Canada Geese and Swans gliding across the water in the mist was breathtaking.

We had been alternating from 6th at best to 11th at worst and were very pleased with our performance, but could we keep it up? The time difference between 6th and 11th was only 7 minutes at one point! We were all getting very tired now and everyone found it difficult/impossible to get any sleep, what with eating, drinking, bike maintenance and helping each other. Martine and Brian managed a shower and massagages. 

photo 6: Brian showing exellent control on the steep lose descent (click to enlarge).

photo 7: Gary showing how not to ride the steep lose descent (click to enlarge).
There were a couple of showers on Martines lap (30) to make the course nice and slippery. By the end of Brian's lap (31) the rain had really come down and the course was getting really greesey and loosing Brian a good 2 minutes. Garys lap (32) was trecherous with him taking one fall on some slimey root. The deterioration in the track lost him aorund 6 minutes! 
photo 8: Gary in need of a wash after the wet lap 32
Guy was last to go (33) and was the best man for the leathal conditions and showed that he really can handle an out of control bike by only loosing around 5 minutes in the worst conditions. We had made it. Coming in in 10th. 15 minutes behind the Army team and ??????????????????????????????

All we needed now was to pack up camp and get some well earned sleep, although one amongst us got the order wrong for the first time over the last 24 hours.

photo 9: Brian dreaming of the next challenge!


Overall, a fantastic race to be involved in. We covered 264 miles completing 33 laps in 24hrs 19 mins and had only one pinch flat and a loose back wheel. We were all very pleased with our result and will aim to try again next year.





10th out of 83

Bib No.

856 to 860

Course Length


Climbing per lap

465 m/1,582 ft



856, Gary Hill700:38:00 00:40:22 04:42:37
859, Guy Exley700:40:20 00:43:22 05:03:37
857, Brian Tear700:41:57 00:44:41 05:12:51
858, Martine Verweit600:42:19 00:45:48 04:34:50
860, Richard Mann600:45:09 00:47:38 04:45:50

Total time:24:19:45
Average time:00:44:14

Average speed 10.85mph

Course Description

The course starts with a bomb hole/roots option, a jump up a kerb and a couple of sharp steps (which caused quite a few competitors to pinch flat) next a fast rooty technical descent through the woods onto a fast track around the lake. Next was the climb to the monument with the ensuing weaving through the trees before a couple of awkward climbs thrown in for good measure.
photo 10: Richard entering the downhil past the monument (click to enlarge).

Then the favourite roller coaster section up and around a series of trees.
photo 11: Brian in the first dip of the roller coaster (click to enlarge).
The drop back down led to a long drag across to the other side of Trentham Gardens with the final lose climb. Then across the open top of humps before the rubble descent.
photo 12: Gary descending the rubble shoot (click to enlarge).
A short blast down a tarmac path then a climb into the woods for more single and with plenty of mud, roots and ruts into the trees.
photo 12: Gary negotiating the roots (click to enlarge).
Finally, a tight left and around the pond before a drop into an open field down to the end of the start/finish.

Course (click on image for jpg large colour version (2.8 megs though!)
Circuit (click to enlarge).

Kit Information:

There were a variety of bikes used as follows:

Brian: Canondale, 2000 F4000SL M - Vistalites NS20 Lights, Panaracer Fire XC Pro 1.8 tyres.
Gary: Specialized, 2002 Stumpjumper M4 Disc 19" - Vistalites NS20 Lights, Specialized Rockster Pro 1.9 tyres.
          Spare: Maxlight, 2003 18" (robbed for it'd rear disc brake caliper (master and slave units) for Richard.
Guy: Maxlight, 2003 18"
Richard: Specialised, 2002 Rockhopper Disc 19" - Vistalites NS20 Lights, Panaracer Trailblaster 1.95 tyres.
Martine: Maxlight, 2002 17" - Vistalites NS20 Lights, Panaracer Fire XC Pro 1.8 tyres.

photo 13: The 'steads' Rockhopper, Stumpjumper, F4000, Maxlight *2 (from L to R)

photo 14: The curse of Magura strikes. A spare transplanted from the spare Maxlight.


Event Site http://www.sleeplessinthesaddle.com
Results Overall http://www.singletrackworld.com/article.php?sid=1093
Team Results http://www.singletrackworld.com/results/2003-sits/summary0182.html
Photo Gallery http://www.bikemagic.com