The gun fires, the bongos rattle, ‘Cara Mia’ blasts, the rattle of chains and rumble of rubber on wood builds and the chase which kicks off the 50th Copenhagen Six Day is up and running.
But it’s not any old chase, since I first walked up the steps from the tunnel when we arrived here on Wednesday afternoon the lap board has been displaying a short but grim message — 400.
That’s 400 laps at 250 metres for each lap; I’ll help with the arithmetic — 100 kilometres.
The music is good and loud, the lights are bright, the track surface advertising has all been re-painted and the track looks cool — it’s all a Six Day should be.
It’s just a pity there aren’t so many people here in the Ballerup Super Arena in the suburbs of Copenhagen.
The track record is 1:56:31 for Danny Clark (Australia) & Jens Veggerby (Denmark) set during the 1989 Six Day – will it survive?
We have six men to look after here – home boys, reigning Copenhagen champions and former World Madison Champions, Alex Rasmussen and Michael Mørkøv; World number one rated Six Day rider, Franco Marvulli of Switzerland paired with Michael’s younger brother, Jesper; Jackie Simes of the USA and Worlds Omnium Silver Medallist Shane Archbold.
Jackie rides with German former Grand Tour rider, Björn Schröder whilst Shane rides with Suisse Claudio Imhof.
With so many riders on the boards in our care it’s hectic being the runner — it’s my job to fetch the discarded bottles, clean them then refill them.
We had thought that the race would drag but far from it, the laps rattle down and with 300 still to go there are men suffering.
It’s half distance before we know it and as Alcazar’s classic six day song, ‘Crying at The Discotheque’ surges from the speakers there are some big errors of judgement being made up there — riders hurtle through the middle of exchanges and the abuse flies.
The situation with the bottles is crazy, I can only grab a moment here and there to take some pictures but then it’s back to trotting round to the banking to retrieve the bottle — sometimes three — and return to where Martyn and Kris are standing in the back straight, wash the bottles, dry them, refill them, fill them and pass them to the boys.
One of the young Danes has his mechanic handing up drinks and he keeps dropping them — more colourful language.
The young mechanic is getting stressed and runs up the straight to retrieve the bottles but doesn’t look back to see where the string is as he bends down to retrieve them — ‘dangerous’ isn’t the word.
But we’re all stressed, it’s been a long season and the riders are scared of the distance.