Tuesday, June 28, 2022
HomeRaceSix DaysThe Copenhagen Six Day 2005

The Copenhagen Six Day 2005

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Danny Kaye is telling me over the public address that it’s “Wonderful, wonderful Copenhagen”. I’m not so sure: it’s gone 1.00 am here at the The Copenhagen Six Day 2005 and we have 18 Lycra jerseys; 18 under-vests; six pairs of chamois-lined cycling shorts; six pairs of socks and six pairs of track mitts to hand wash, spin dry and hang up to dry in our ‘cabin’ in the bowels of the stadium. Welcome to the glamorous world of Six Day bicycle racing.

‘The sixes’, as they are known, start with Amsterdam in October and end here, with Copenhagen in February. In between there are events in Dortmund, Munich, Ghent, Rotterdam, Bremen, Stuttgart and Berlin. They are conducted by two or three man teams on steeply- banked in-door tracks.

The main elements of a six-day race are the ‘Madisons’, named after Madison Square Gardens, New York, where this form of racing originated. This is a relay race where one team, or a small group of teams try to lap the field.

The riders ‘change’ with a hand-sling, where one team member relays the other in to the fray with a powerful grabbing and thrusting of arms, conducted at speeds in excess of 35 mph. The winners will be the team on the ‘zero’ lap, with their opponents being laps ‘down’.

In the event of more than one team being on zero laps, then the race is decided on points, which are awarded for the other races which make up the programme. These can be sprint races, timed events or startlingly fast motorbike-paced races.

The sixes are hugely popular, most selling-out and are social, not just sporting affairs with restaurants, bars and cabaret. I’m here as a ‘runner’ to assist my friend Kris. I do the washing, prepare the food and generally ‘gofer’ for him and the riders he cares for.

Kris is a ‘soigneur’, a cycling term to describe a coach / masseur / dietician / father – confessor. He has enough on his plate and needs me to do the menial stuff.

It’s the last night. Everybody is happy, the contract fees get paid before the final session and we all go home tonight. Some of the guys have hardly been off the treadmill since Amsterdam in October.

“Are you going home to Belgium?” I ask one of the mechanics, every team has a mechanic to keep their sleek, fixed gear machines in perfect trim. &