Monday, 29 November 2010
The spectacle that is Six Day Racing
Went to my first Six Day race last Saturday and Sunday to shoot a photo story for a new American title called Pavedmag . The dates fell kindly for me this year because the Saturday coincided with the World Cup Cyclocross at Koksijde and I did what many Brits do when that happens which is go to the cross and then the Gent Six and then crash in a hotel. I had heard of many stories from the Six Day events and seen hundreds of pictures but nothing really prepares you for the real thing. Unlike UK velodromes I have been to, at Gent the public are allowed inside the track where they drink and sing to their hearts content. Huge fans blow in hot air and amplified dance music ups the ante. Brilliant! Small cabins on each straight are 'homes' to the riders for the duration of the racing and there they eat, rest and take massages before re-entering the ring. I say ring because I felt that the race was like a mad cross between a bullfight and Rollerball . And whilst I struggled to keep a handle on proceedings, the locals appeared very knowledgeable - cheering and fawning over the local hotshots. I came away at 2am flashcards stuffed with images and a high pitched whining in my ears. Just like coming home from a good night out (er, without the pictures). The pic above is from the derny race which sees the riders topping 60kph. And when things go wrong it can be spectacular. Check out this high speed rear tyre blow out and Kenny De Keetele's cat-like reflexes to save it. If you get a chance - GO!
I drove back from Gent to Calais into a beautiful sunset that slowly faded over the snowclad fields. It seemed very tranquil compared to only an hour earlier. At one point I could see cars parked and course tape and men carrying bikes. It was a local club cross race. Some things never change.