Apparently the riders in the men’s field at London Six Day go out after the racing most nights, get back to the hotel in the (no longer very) small hours of the morning, then sleep till the afternoon in order to do it all again. They’re basically rock stars. If the women’s field has the same routine, I’ve never been invited.
My Friday evening went like this…
Our last race finished at 10pm. I did a bit of a warm-down then sat in our cabin. Each pair of racers gets a cabin for six-day races – it’s a wooden box with a curtain, a cushion and a lamp where you can shut yourself away from the mayhem of the party outside for a bit.
This was the first time I’ve had one (historically they’re just for the men). I now think cabins are the greatest things in the world and if I never get one again I’ll know it’s better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all. For 10 minutes I just made this “bbbhhhhggg” noise while telling my racing partner, Neah Evans, that everything hurt.
Friday was our first of three race days (‘Six Day’ is the name of the organisation, don’t get caught up in the fine details – it’s still three amazing days) and I was feeling very panicked that I wouldn’t wake up the next morning, never mind do more of the same.
It passed. I filled my shaker with a recovery mix, got dressed and jumped on my road bike for the five-minute dawdle back to the hotel, riding slowly alongside swathes of fans (a delightfully excited hubbub of people) leaving the velodrome that evening.
One buffet dinner, 14 refills of apple juice, and several deep sighs of satisfaction later, me and Neah were upstairs in our room. Late night entertainment was Neah removing huge wood splinters from her leg, the consequences of a crash that evening, before I got into bed not long after midnight to snuggle with my book.
Eventually the words went blurry and I drifted off to sleep like a newborn baby log. Can’t say I’m jealous of the rock stars.
This Katie Archibald column originally appeared in the print edition of Cycling Weekly, on sale in newsagents and supermarkets, priced £3.25.