Rotterdam Six Day 2011, it’s approaching midnight, we’re in the camper, headed north out of Holland to Bremen in Germany on a pan flat, black motorway.

Kris is headed for the Six Days of Bremen to work with Franco Marvulli (fingers crossed that he’s well) and Jens-Erik Madsen.

I fly home to Bonnie Scotland from Bremen – my next Six is Berlin, for the last two days, then Copenhagen.

Stam/Van Bon won in Rotterdam from Keisse/De Ketele and Bartko/Ligthart – despite Ligthart looking near death for much of the last chase.

Michael and Jens-Erik were fourth, but as strong, if not stronger than anyone else on the track.

But it’s Holland, it’s the Rotterdam Six Day 2011 and there’s a crowd to entertain – and most spectators will be going home happy.

Rotterdam Six Day
Derny master Joop Zijlaard.
Rotterdam Six Day 2011
Resting. As Dave “Three Pockets” Martin would say.

Bos/Schep were the best team on the track for the first four days but Big Theo took ill yesterday and pulled out today.

I snapped a disconsolate Schep talking to Dutch radio during the final chase, which he obviously sat out.

Rotterdam Six Day 2011
Schep tells the sad tale of Theo.

I started my write up of today what seems like weeks ago, but I must have been around lunch time…

There’s a great Charlton Heston 70’s sci-fi film called Soylent Green; the premise is that it’s the near future and the USA is hugely over populated – the Government feeds the population with a miracle food called, ‘Soylent Green.’

Which – unknowns to the populace – is made from recycled corpses.

I can’t be sure, but I think it was Soylent Green in the canteen last night – I had salad and two yoghurts.

Rotterdam Six Day 2011
Niki Terpstra stretches before the first race.

It was mellow in the track centre at 17:20, no-one on the boards, ‘Dream a Little Dream For Me‘ and ‘Blue Bayou‘ soft on the PA – a glass of red would have made it perfect.

Rotterdam Six Day 2011
The kitchen has another hard night, serving VIP’s and paying guests.
Rotterdam Six Day 2011
Oysters, anyone?

One hour later, ‘Saturday Night‘ is hammering out as the U23 race flies around us; Tim Mertens, Marc Hester and our own Michael Mørkøv all served their apprenticeships in the UiV Cup for U23 riders.

Rotterdam Six Day 2011
Giddeon ponders.

Britain’s Mick Bennett presented the prizes for the UiV – he won the amateur six here in the 70’s with our pal Viktor’s hero, Grant Thomas.

Rotterdam Six Day 2011
Mick Bennett remembers the day that it was him getting the flowers.

No WCPP, no ‘stealth’ bikes, no ‘recalibrations’ just talent and will to win.

Bennett was a multiple British Track Champion as well as a Commonwealth Games, World Championship and Olympic Games Team Pursuit medallist.

Grant? No Olympic medals for him – but certainly ‘legend’ status.

Charline came to visit us tonight, I introduced her to Michael and Jens.

When I bring male friends to the cabin for an intro, the boys are always polite; but bring a pretty girl and all-of-a-sudden they’re not just polite but also very attentive.

They’re the best.

Rotterdam Six Day 2011
Charline comes to call, and the boys pay attention.

Charline was third in the flying lap, tonight.

She’s off to the UCI cycling school in Aigle, soon – we wish her well.

Rotterdam Six Day 2011
For her first experience of this, Charline has done very well here.

The programme was different tonight, the normal format is to have the main chase mid-evening, then a shorter one to close the night – it’s not usually a frantic affair.

But tonight the main chase was the show closer – one hour plus 10 laps with sprint points every ten for the last 50 ronden.

Rotterdam Six Day 2011
Andreas and Kenny are getting used to Ed popping over to say hello and take a photo.
Rotterdam Six Day 2011
Bobby Traksel will likely be going great again in the spring, after all this indoor work.

On the last night it’s always the same at Sixes, the races before the big chase go past almost unnoticed, everyone is focussed on the finale.

Rotterdam Six Day 2011
Kenny De Ketele pays attention for one last hour
Rotterdam Six Day 2011
Sign here son. Mr. Sercu at work, securing the talent for the next event.

If you’re a runner then you miss the start of the chase because it’s ‘break camp’ time – the little environments which you carefully created and have been home for a week are ruthlessly dismantled and packed away ’til next time.

In the ‘good old days,’ sometimes the next race would start the following evening – as many as 800 kilometres away.

Rotterdam Six Day 2011
It’s the final chase. Game On.

The racing was quick enough but there was a spell coming in to those last 50 laps which must rank as just about the fastest madison racing I’ve ever seen – the slow running lane was shaking beneath my feet as the mass of the string was catapulted out of the banking by the G-force.

It was scary quick – some riders were absolutely wasted, clinging on by their finger nails.

Rotterdam Six Day 2011
During his out laps, riders often grab a quick mouthful of energy drink from the soigneur.

But as it entered the last 50 laps it was all about sprint points and it calmed down as the tactics kicked in.

The lead see-sawed but there was never much doubt that it was going to be Danny’s name painted on the stand fence, yet again.

He may not be the Danny of the Slippens & Stam days – at their best a dashing, cavalier, spectacular pairing – but he’s still one of the best on the track.

The riders’ helpers wait patiently for the call.

And Van Bon is solid, very smooth, very strong – he’s done a good job of reinventing himself as a Six day rider.

Big crowds on the last night.
Niki has to tell the tale, when he really only wants to get going.
Thankfully, there’s been no mid-race need to attend the Doping Controls this time.

And now it’s 09:15 and we’re in Germany, we drove for a couple of hours last night, slept in the camper for maybe five hours and then rolled back out on to the concrete section.

Meanwhile, in Bremen…
…they’re getting ready to do it all again.

The last night or two of a Six, you think; ‘it’ll be great to get home to my own bed, nice food, the real world.

But when it’s over and you’re driving to the airport or ferry you realise that tonight there’ll be no rumble of rock hard rubber on wood, Haddaway singing ‘Baby don’t hurt me‘ at “harmful” levels, droning dernys, rows of wide-eyed fans gazing down at the show or banter with the boys.

Those Six Days; they get inside you…

They do Ed, they do…
Rotterdam Six Day 2011 Winaars!
Rotterdam Six Day 2011
Danny and Léon wonder why they aren’t getting the cuddles.

Rotterdam Six Day 2011 Result

Final results after Day 6

1 Danny Stam / Léon van Bon (Ned) 286 pts
2 Kenny De Ketele / Iljo Keisse (Bel) 284
3 Robert Bartko / Pim Ligthart (Ger/Ned) 239
4 (-2 laps) Michael Mørkøv / Jens-Erik Madsen (Den) 231
5 (-3 laps) Leif Lampater / Niki Terpstra (Ger/Ned) 192
6 (-5 laps) Matthé Pronk / Jens Mouris (Ned) 133
7 (-10 laps) Marc Hester / Geert-Jan Jonkman (Den/Ned) 161
8 (-10 laps) Yoeri Havik / Nick Stöpler (Ned) 149
9 (-13 laps) Jeff Vermeulen (Ned) / Tim Mertens (Bel) 206
10 (-17 laps) Raymond Kreder / Michel Kreder (Ned) 103
11 (-17 laps) Kenny van Hummel / Andreas Müller (Ned/Ger) 62
12 (-29 laps) Bobbie Traksel / Tim Veldt (Ned) 114

Rotterdam Six Day 2011
With thanks to John Young for many of the photos in the Diary articles over the last week. Here he is at work, capturing the action for VeloVeritas.