Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Sleepless in the Saddle 2011

All too soon we were in the car and heading down to Catton Park, the car was full of food and kit with two bikes and a gazebo on the roof. We got there mid afternoon and set up the Gazebo and tent trackside, said hi to a few friends and headed off to my sisters. She kindly provided me with loads of pasta and packed me off to bed to get some sleep. Morning came and I tried not to be too stressy as I ate breakfast and then the three of us headed back to Catton Park. A lot more people had arrived since we had left and the solo area was noticeably busier than last year. A bit of catching up with people and I had a little rest in the tent before eating some lunch. It seemed no time at all and I was lined up near the front ready to start the race with a run. Once again everyone headed off and I went backwards through the crowd. I thought I saw two solo girls go past me but I stayed at my steady plod as I didn't want to pay for the run later in the race. I was just behind Ros at this point who was racing in the Women's team category. Helen had my bike ready and I was out on the lap and making sure I kept my spot in the line, half a lap was spent with queues into the singletrack but nothing too ridiculous.

Amy, 1st Lap (of many)

Through after the first lap and the commentators announched I was the first solo female through, Ali agreed with them. I was handed a bottle and some food without me stopping and headed back out. I was walking a couple of the steeper hills and was rubbish through the twisty singletrack but I was enjoying the course and for the first few laps was riding with the same few riders who were also soloing. A couple of times I even rode the "Jump of Doom", I was having fun!
Then came the rain, first was a five minute shower which wasn't too bad but it quickly was followed by a 15minute deluge, I got drenched and started to get cold. Into the pits shouting for clothes, Ali sensibly stopped me at just a base layer as by now the rain had stopped and I headed back out. The next lap involved a lot of dragging my bike around as the mud became unrideable. Back to the pits and I headed out on rigger leaving Ali and her helpers (thanks Jenn for washing the bike and Shona and Rich from Keep Pedalling for lending us a Dirt Worker so no-one had to queue at the bike wash) to sort out a muddy clogged up bike. The course had dried up so it was back onto the Superfly.

Nighttime came pretty fast and it was time for lights and partway through the night 3/4's. I kept plugging away and by now the lead had gone up to 30minutes, but I knew anything could happen and so I couldn't stop. Each lap I came in and demanded a doughnut whatever else Ali tried to give me, this apparently caused lots of amusement.

Morning came and another change of outfit, by now I had been wearing my cooksons jersey for longer than was probably pleasant and it was warming up so I wanted to get shorts on (and back into bibs). I was slowing down and now I wanted Bacon Rolls, two in total. My body was playing a which bit hurts the most game but I knew if I kept moving I could keep the lead (now at over a lap).


I realised that I could get to twenty laps without having to speed up much, I didn't fancy pushing my body to go five minutes faster so I could get out for 21! The second to last lap was the hardest, my knees decided they hurt the most and I was a little worried I was doing permanent damage. But heading out on the last lap things felt a bit better, I bumped into Paul who rode with me through the singletrack and suddenly I could follow and not think. Lots of people were cheering and I was still smiling. The singletrack lurkers tent gave me some bucks fizz and I cross the finish line five minutes after 2pm to shake hands with Pat.


It might be a solo race but I'm not sure I could have done it without Ali, she was a star in the Pits and also stayed up for the full 24 hours!

Winning ComboWinning Legs

All that was left was to shower, pack up and me to be helped up onto the podium. Ali is already planning next year but I'm not so sure!

Lots of people to thank:
  • Ali for being the best pit bunny in the world
  • Helen for the bed, extra food and perfect bottle handups
  • Cookson Cycles for the help with the bike, getting it ready when they are busy, lending us the Gazebo and basically being the best bike shop in the world. 
  • Squirt Lube for keeping my bike running
  • The marshalls who kept me going through the night
  • Rich and Shona for the Dirt Worker and Jenn for washing the bike
  • Minx for help with clothing - no one else seems to have such a great range of womens bike clothes.
  • Everyone else I have forgot because I am still really tired!


  1. 20 laps!!!! wow, seriously good. well done amy (and ali).

  2. Absolutely top result. Well done :)