Germany, somewhere near the Taunus mountains at 09:22 Sunday. We left the velodrome of the Zürich Six Day at 03:00 and there are still 400 kilometres to go to the ferry at Amsterdam.
It began to snow like Hell about an hour into Germany; there were roadworks, we were diverted off the motorway and there were either no diversion signs or they were snow bound.
Whichever it was, we ended up hideously lost and dropped a chunk of time.
But once the sun comes up, it all doesn’t seem quite as grim: despite the spray and demented German drivers. We passed the emergency services at one incident where a hot hatch was lodged in the branches of a tree – crazy.
And on the subject of dangerous surfaces; Kenny De Ketele and Peter Schep confirmed that they were the strongest pair on the rattling boards of Zürich to relegate Roger Kluge and Danilo Hondo to third.
(But Hondo is still the coolest man on the winter boards – just shading it from Iljo Keisse.)
Despite home boys Franco Marvulli and Tristan Marguet’s dominance in the time trials; when it came to the essence of what Six Day racing is all about – the chases – they didn’t have the horsepower of the men from the north.
For a while it looked as if Switzerland’s new ‘Golden Boy,’ Silvan Dillier – who was on the podium at Gent – might do the business, but once World Champion De Ketele and super stylist Schep got their noses ahead, no one was going to take a lap back.
None of our three riders set the boards aflame, but Adam Blythe won a Derny race – and there was a personal triumph in finishing for Martin Hacecky, who was unwell the night before and had doubts about even starting the final chase.
And the next time someone tells you that the Six Days are all fixed, direct them to Adam Blythe, Martin Hacecky or Alois Kankovsky and ask them to tell you about night three at Zürich 2012; savage isn’t the word; there were men in tears coming off that track – and I don’t exaggerate.
* * *
Here’s what I wrote on Saturday morning, on the eve of the finale.
Franco Marvulli wants to win his home Six Day – but I don’t think that Kenny De Ketele agrees with that.
Marvulli/Marguet and De Ketele/Schep are strong, but so too are Dillier/O’Shea and Hondo/Kluge – with Hansen/Hester, Lampater/Grasmann and Graf/Müller all very capable, too.
It’s a solid, balanced field and the big chases are good to watch – there are two madisons each night; a 100 or 125 lap ‘opener’ and 200, 250 or 300 as the main chase of the night.
The final chase will be over 250 laps at 00:45 tomorrow morning – Sunday.