Bicycles and Cheerleaders at the 99th Berlin 6 Day Track Event

berlin-six-days-maria-laub

I’ve never made it to a continental six day event, but by all accounts Ghent or Berlin are the ones to go to. Maria Laub, who is a very good photographer, has recently posted some pictures of this year’s event to Keirin Culture Berlin - and they just make me want to go even more.

Back in the good old days (*adopts grizzly old man storytelling posture*) the competitors really did race for six days solid, grabbing 40 winks only when strictly necessary, and being limited only by the Sabbath from presumably cycling in a circle forever. The man who’d gone the furthest in the time would take home a huge prize, and the crowds loved it.

It was especially popular in the States, where legislators in New York eventually prohibited 24-hour racing: they permitted only 12-hour stretches per rider, thus rather unwittingly giving birth to the two-man team and the Madison event (named after the early home of track racing, Madison Square Garden) that still exists today.

It’s died off now in all but the most cycle-mad parts of Northern Europe, where vast quantities of beer and sausages are consumed while watching the racing. Party or what!

Anyhoo, lesson over. Go feast your peepers on Maria’s photos (including some of those cheerleaders I promised) – they’re excellent.

By the way, Berlin was won this year by Danes Alex Rasmussen and Michael Mørkøv, a lap ahead of Robert Bartko and Roger Kluge, who showed he has road legs, too, by recently taking the Best Young Rider Jersey in the Tour of Qatar.

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