Big Berlin! After fighting my way through two long weeks without seeing any six-day racing, I arrived in Berlin. I know that Texans say that everything’s bigger in Texas (maybe it is, but investigating that fact would require actually going to Texas), but I can say with certainty that it’s true about Berlin: big, wide streets, three-point-something million people, 890 square kilometers, and of course, a velodrome, set into the ground, that holds 12.000 people.
I’m off to walk an estimated 72km around the city, but here’s a quick list of first impressions:
1. You can buy almost anything at the Berlin Six. Yes, at other sixes there are vendors, but here it’s turned up a notch: food from at least eight different countries, bikes, bike accessories (€9 inner tube, anyone? no? nobody? weird), bike clothing, men’s suits, real Italian espresso out of a real Italian Ape, ear plugs – it gets real in here, and real loud – and, why not, world-championship track bikes:
(Quick! Someone loan me 1.224 more euros!)
2. The Stehers (stayers? stahers? whatever, they’re big dernies, because go back and read the third sentence of this post) are incredible. I thought the dernies made enough noise and smoke and speed, but oh how wrong I was. These guys ride their motorcycles standing up, with a contraption on the back to keep the cyclist from bumping into the back of it.
(Obviously, brought to you by Esso.)
3. Hey, Mr/Ms Cyclocross, have you ever seen a track sprinter take a hand-up¹? Me neither.
(“Please tell me this isn’t a shitty pilsner!”)
(As I said: this might not be the best thing about six-day racing, but it’s top three.)
5. In between races, you can practice your marksmanship:
(Grosse Jagd ², indeed)
6. Oh yeah, speaking of which, there’s racing too:
(I hope you told him to put on his suffer face.)
The lead has changed every night, with three teams within a lap (Lampater/Kalz, Muntaner/de Ketele, Rasmussen/Hester), and three more within striking distance (Havik/Stöpler, Grasmann/Lea, Graf/Müller) going into the last night. Full report, as always, over at the UIV site, but the final is still up in the air: will hometown heroes Lampater/Kalz can hold on for the lead, or will they have to come to Copenhagen next week to exact revenge from the Danes? Or will World Madison Champion David Muntaner take a big victory in the stripes?
7. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention what was going on right now in the concert hall. Cover band Right Now was rocking the Monday night crowd:
You may or may not like Prince, but you cannot deny that this video raises two very good questions: do Europeans understand the “act your age, not your shoe size” line differently? And: how good is that last line?
1. Yes, a beer hand-up. Is there any other kind?
2. For those of you who are just tuning in: the German word for Madison racing is Jagd, which translates back to “hunt.” There are normally two each day: a big one and a small one.