6 Day Cycling — up close with the track elite
What happens when the two-wheelers turn it up to 11…
Ben from the commercial team on the hotly anticipated return of a cycling phenomenon.
Imagine being so close to world and Olympic champions — sporting legends — that you could high-five them as they passed by.
And even if they left you hanging, they’d be back around in the few short seconds it takes for track stars to lap a velodrome.
Now imagine being so near to fierce battles on the boards, with the arena lights turned down, all soundtracked by live DJ’s and lively crowds.
That’s the Six Day Cycling Series, a five-city spectacular featuring the cream of track cycling, team events and an infectious party atmosphere.
What is Six Day Cycling?
Six Day’s roots stretch back to the hugely popular team cycling race events that wowed crowds in Boston and New York over a century ago.
(The Madison — famous for Wiggins and Cavendish ‘slingshotting’ each other round the track — takes its name from NY’s Madison Square Garden).
Although world wars and the dawn of the car saw its decline in the US, Six Day Cycling remains popular in Europe and increasingly, the UK.
Since 2015, London’s Olympic venue, Lee Valley Velopark has hosted the British leg, in front of thousands of keen to get close to their heroes.
This year’s events will be the biggest, fastest and most frenetic yet, with London followed by Berlin, Amsterdam, Copenhagen and Palma, Mallorca.
How is it different to normal track cycling?
You’ll definitely recognise some of the sights that you loved during the Olympics:
- The ‘last man/woman standing’ excitement of the elimination race
- Lycra-clad pilots of mechanical derny bikes gradually speeding up while pedal powered cycles jostle for places behind them
- The cycling ‘decathlon’ format of the exhausting multi-event omnium
But what you might not be ready for is the raucous crowds, rousing soundtrack and family friendly celebratory feel.
Of course it’s competitive — these are elite athletes after all — but it’s there’s a real sense of fun and camaraderie between riders and spectators.
The races come thick and fast, as teams of two battle it out over various formats to be crowned overall winners of the series.
In between competition you’ll be entertained by showtime spectacles, informative interviews and live music from in-track DJs.
And of course, the champagne spraying podium moments at the end of the evening are a staple of any racing sport worth watching.
Why is it so popular?
Love for the Six Day Cycling Series isn’t a new phenomenon, as fans on the continent will tell you.
But in Britain, its explosion of popularity is probably down to a few key things:
- The rise of cycling as a spectator and participation sport here
- Overwhelming success by stars like Bradley Wiggins on the road and Laura Trott on the track
- Great family venues with excellent hospitality provision
- It’s really, really good fun.
You might see fancy dress fan groups enjoying themselves similar to spectators at the darts or football away games.
You could spot cyclists not on the track, taking a turn on the decks to spin some of their own favourite tunes during the evening.
You probably won’t look at your watch, yawn or check your phone.
Pick a city to visit, pick a pair to support and get ready to laugh, cheer and hold your hand out for that high-speed high-five!