The line of taxi lights stretches back into the darkness like a string of pearls, it’s beautiful in an a big city kind of a way – it could be a scene from a Woody Allen film; but it’s not Manhattan, it’s Berlin at 01:40am. We’re here for the Berlin Six Day 2012.
The beige Merc cabs get to drive down to the underground Velodrom entrance to pick up ViPs, meanwhile the support staff – that’s us – have to hi-jack a supermarket trolley and use the lift to take our stuff up to the camper.
But it’s not as if it’s cold at minus 9.8 degrees and that wind’s last stop was the Steppes.
Brad Huff flies home to his Jelly Belly training camp in the morning; Silvan Dillier heads for Tenerife and warm weather training; Franco Marvulli heads for the post race party (there’s a surprise) before flying to Copenhagen tomorrow and Jackie Simes is driving to Copenhagen with the Czechs.
He was meant to drive with us, but the old camper is wheezing a bit and whilst it’s OK for two old fools like us to get stranded in the frozen wilds of Northern Germany, Jackie has a Six Day to ride.
He was meant to ride Copenhagen with Bobby Lea but Bobby has scratched with tendonitis of the knee so Jackie rides with ex-Milram Grand Tour rider, Bjorn Schröder.
‘But what about the race ?‘ I hear you ask.
What about it, indeed. Maybe I’m turning into Viktor, maybe I’ve seen to many chases or can’t forget those swirling Skol Six maelstroms back in the 70’s ?
But whatever it is, I didn’t think the chases were good.
If you had measured the crowd decibels then the chase finales would come a distant third to the sprinters and the stayers.
The Aussie world champions won, a hard thing to do, coming straight into a Six with ‘road legs’ and winning.
Franco & Silvan were second and Iljo & Kenny De Ketele third.
Kluge & Lampater and Bengsch & Kalz were the other top teams – but no one seemed capable of imposing themselves on the race.
But let’s go back to this morning…
It’s a beautiful morning in Berlin but the air nips at your ears and the inside of your nose – minus 8.5 degrees.
A magpie chats to us as we load the camper with the non- essentials.
The other soigneurs and mechanics are doing the same thing, there’s a little banter – but not much, it’s too cold and everyone is too tired.
There always mixed feelings on the last day; maybe you’ve had enough of the stadium and that particular round of politics – and it’s no hardship to bid farewell to our concrete block cell and prison bed.
But at the same time, you build up a relationship with your little bubble and become comfortable within it.
But the road to the Baltic and the islands of Denmark call.
Just to make life interesting, the camper is playing up a little, we think that dud fuel is the cause – let’s hope so.
The days pass quickly – you lose the best of it by sleeping late, but with a 03:00 am bed time there’s little choice – by the time the chores and shopping are done and the journo bit taken care of, it’s time to eat and almost show time.
There’s only one chase tonight – the grand finale, 60 minutes. I hope it sparkles.
And only one Derny, for teams placed first to ninth, so only Marvulli/Dillier ride.
Brad and Jackie sit that one out.
The organisation want to say ‘goodbye’ to Danny Stam but he whips through the finish line with a quick wave and on the next lap they’ve practically to jump out and grab him to get him to stop.
You can tell he’s tired of it all, he just wants to honour his last two contracts – Berlin and Copenhagen then move on to his new life as a DS.
The house band plays, ‘Amarillo‘ – ironic given that a year or two ago old Tony Christie was the live act here and was boo-ed off the stage.
Track record holder Forstemann goes for his flying lap, the flash guns go supernova as the man with the huge – but very short – legs brutalises his way around the track.
He doesn’t break his 24 hour-old record but he’s close – another 12.7 and the crowd go mad.
The stayers, it’s the grand final tonight, 100 laps.
There’s that the strange hush as the BMWs are throttled back to let the men with the big chainrings tuck in behind before they roar again – reaching a crescendo in the last few laps as the streak past at demented speeds.
The crowd go wild, the speaker’s voice starts to give and, bang!
A rider’s arm goes high – Florian Fernow wins the race and the overall Stayers Series; respect is due to the man.
The boys have been hanging around for ages, they get a points race.
More sprinters – for a sport that’s about going fast, ironically the crowds love when the guys standstill.
In the grand final it’s Forstemann v. Levy and they pop a six minute job – way outside UCI regs.
But when did the UCI ever care about the Six Days?
And then it was chase time, but I’ve moaned about that already.
It’s 02:50 now and only 150 K to Rostock – it’s a glamorous life being a runner.
Talk to you from Copenhagen, soon – I hope.
Berlin Six Day - Results from Day Six
1. Nr. 1 HOWARD / MEYER 8 Pkt.
1. Nr. 6 SCHRöDER / THöMEL 8 Pkt.
3. Nr. 4 KEISSE / DE KETELE 7 Pkt.
3. Nr. 14 MATZKA / REINHARDT 7 Pkt.
5. Nr. 3 MARVULLI / DILLIER 5 Pkt.
5. Nr. 5 BOMMEL / MERTENS 5 Pkt.
7. Nr. 13 HUFF / SIMES 4 Pkt.
8. Nr. 2 LAMPATER / KLUGE 3 Pkt.
9. Nr. 10 GRAF / MüLLER 2 Pkt.
9. Nr. 12 MASOTTI / CICCONE 2 Pkt.
9. Nr. 16 KAIKOW / KRASNOW 2 Pkt.
12. Nr. 9 BENGSCH / KALZ 1 Pkt.
12. Nr. 15 RATAJCZYK / AESCHBACH 1 Pkt.
14. Nr. 7 STAM / BLAHA
14. Nr. 8 BARTH / MOHS
1. Nr. 9 BENGSCH / KALZ 20 Pkt.
2. Nr. 3 MARVULLI / DILLIER 12 Pkt.
3. Nr. 1 HOWARD / MEYER 10 Pkt.
4. Nr. 4 KEISSE / DE KETELE 8 Pkt.
5. Nr. 14 MATZKA / REINHARDT 6 Pkt.
6. Nr. 15 RATAJCZYK / AESCHBACH 4 Pkt.
7. Nr. 12 MASOTTI / CICCONE
8. Nr. 5 BOMMEL / MERTENS
9. Nr. 7 STAM / BLAHA
10. Nr. 13 HUFF / SIMES
11. Nr. 16 KAIKOW / KRASNOW
12. Nr. 6 SCHRöDER / THöMEL
13. Nr. 2 LAMPATER / KLUGE
14. Nr. 10 GRAF / MüLLER
15. Nr. 8 BARTH / MOHS
1. Nr. 2 LAMPATER / KLUGE 10 Pkt.
2. Nr. 4 KEISSE / DE KETELE 8 Pkt.
3. Nr. 9 BENGSCH / KALZ 6 Pkt.
4. Nr. 1 HOWARD / MEYER 4 Pkt.
5. Nr. 3 MARVULLI / DILLIER 2 Pkt.
6. Nr. 8 BARTH / MOHS
7. Nr. 10 GRAF / MüLLER
8. Nr. 5 BOMMEL / MERTENS
1. Nr. 15 RATAJCZYK / AESCHBACH 34 Pkt. 20
2. Nr. 3 MARVULLI / DILLIER 28 Pkt. 12
3. Nr. 1 HOWARD / MEYER 23 Pkt. 10
4. Nr. 5 BOMMEL / MERTENS 9 Pkt. 8
5. Nr. 13 HUFF / SIMES 5 Pkt. 6
6. Nr. 2 LAMPATER / KLUGE 3 Pkt. 4
7. Nr. 16 KAIKOW / KRASNOW 3 Pkt.
8. Nr. 6 SCHRöDER / THöMEL 2 Pkt.
8. Nr. 9 BENGSCH / KALZ 2 Pkt.
10. Nr. 4 KEISSE / DE KETELE 1 Pkt.
11. Nr. 7 STAM / BLAHA
11. Nr. 8 BARTH / MOHS
11. Nr. 10 GRAF / MüLLER
11. Nr. 12 MASOTTI / CICCONE
11. Nr. 14 MATZKA / REINHARDT
1. Nr. 1 HOWARD / MEYER 40 Pkt.
2. Nr. 3 MARVULLI / DILLIER 28 Pkt.
3. Nr. 2 LAMPATER / KLUGE 18 Pkt.
3. Nr. 4 KEISSE / DE KETELE 18 Pkt.
5. Nr. 9 BENGSCH / KALZ 4 Pkt.
@ 1 Lap
6. Nr. 5 BOMMEL / MERTENS 1 Rd.
6. Nr. 7 STAM / BLAHA 1 Rd.
6. Nr. 8 BARTH / MOHS 1 Rd.
@ 2 Laps
9. Nr. 10 GRAF / MüLLER 2 Pkt. 2 Rd.
10. Nr. 6 SCHRöDER / THöMEL 2 Rd.
10. Nr. 12 MASOTTI / CICCONE 2 Rd.
10. Nr. 14 MATZKA / REINHARDT 2 Rd.
10. Nr. 15 RATAJCZYK / AESCHBACH 2 Rd.
@ 3 Laps
14. Nr. 13 HUFF / SIMES 3 Rd.
@ 4 Laps
15. Nr. 16 KAIKOW / KRASNOW 4 Rd.
1 Leigh Howard (Aus) & Cameron Meyer (Aus) Axel Lange 263 pts
2 Franco Marvulli (Swi) & Silvan Dillier (Swi) Wolfram 254
3 Iljo Keisse (Bel) & Kenny De Ketele (Bel) Techem 254
4 Leif Lampater (Ger) & Roger Kluge (Ger) Schultheiss 239
@ 1 Lap
5 Robert Bengsch (Ger) & Marcel Kalz (Ger) LCW 234
@ 11 Laps
6 Marcel Barth (Ger) & Erik Mohs (Ger) OÃŸwald 77
@ 12 Laps
7 Henning Bommel (Ger) & Tim Mertens (Bel) Veaxo 116
@ 13 Laps
8 Andreas Graf (Aut) & Andreas Müller (Aut) Preuss Münchenhagen 49
@ 14 Laps
9 Ralf Matzka (Ger) & Theo Reinhardt (Ger) Berlin Recycling 111
@ 16 Laps
10 Rafal Ratajczyk (Pol) & Alexander Aeschbach (Swi) Nokia 132
@ 17 Laps
11 Danny Stam (Ned) & Peter Schep (Ned) KIA Motors 57
@ 21 Laps
12 Fabio Masotti (Ita) & Angelo Ciccone (Ita) Rosti 55
@ 22 Laps
13 Björn Schröder (Ger) & Tino Thömel (Ger) Radio Berlin 56
@ 23 Laps
14 Brad Huff (USA) & Jackie Simes (USA) Win Office Network 43
@ 32 Laps
15 Waleri Kaikow (Rus) & Leonid Krasnow (Rus) 19