The most important thing to remember as an American six-day rider is: This is not your normal life, so don't get used to it.
It's mind-bendingly strange to go from spectator numbers in the high tens to racing for paying fans that number 10,000 or more. So much about the sixdays are foreign to us, but so much about them could be a successful model for racing in the US, it's hard to wrap your head around it all at once.
As far as the racing goes, for me it was as good as it could have been. Racing with riders who have supportive federations (and tracks that stay open year round) is tough when you live in Colorado, in the land of the USOC and USAC. On days that the weather was clear and the roads were dry I was told there was "no way in hell" that I would be allowed on the track. So out on the road bike I'd go. The other 70% of the time the roads were covered in snow and ice, so onto the trainer or rollers I'd go. The result of all this was a slow first half, and a building second half to the six. I'd see my times drop a bit every day, and know that if it wasn't for the awesome beaurocratic bullshit that kept the gates to my home velodrome locked, I could've come here on much better form.
Complaints aside, I did my job. We all did. Sprints and Kierins at the sixdays are the ultimate test of a rider's skills with contact at speed. You have never given a real headbutt until you've done it to a man wearing World Champion's stripes at top speed in front of thousands of gasping fans. You've never ridden a rough sprint round until you've come blazing down the back-straight at the rail, elbows locked, leaning hard against your opponent, then pulling out of the tailspin at the final moment for the semi-controlled dive to the lane, drag racing elbow to elbow through the final corner and finishing it with a desperate bike throw.
A mother of a young American girl who was racing in the Women's Six was lamenting loudly to our cook about the sprinters. She said it was disgraceful how we ignored the rules, and that we'd never get away with such behavior in the US. He responded with something along the lines of "nobody wants to see those boys follow the rules." We put on a show, gave the paying spectators the thrills they were looking for, went home tired and toasted to our collective success.
Racing like this doesn't always end well. Compared to the madison riders, we were relatively safe, only 2 crashes in the entire Six. Both happened in the kierin (no suprise), and neither seriously injured the unfortunate board-surfer. This time it was Mulder. He's crashing downtrack here, right into the lane and into my path. You can see the imminent doom in my eyes, as I'm hoping the officials on the apron have enough sense to jump out of the way. They did. I rang the finish line bell with my shoulder, narrowly avoided splitting Mulder's head open with my front wheel and made it back onto the 50 degree track mid-corner from the apron at speed.
More later. For now it's coffee and long, slow miles.
1 year ago