London – The city that invented Six Day Racing
As was the case of the start of many sporting events, Six Day racing began with a bet. In 1878, English cycling champion David Stanton declared to the sporting world that he could complete 1,000 miles in six successive days on his bike. The Sporting Life newspaper got hold of this, and decided to back him, with the promise of £100 if he was successful. Back then, of course this was a very decent (and tempting) sum of money. Stanton set off in February of that year from Agricultural Hall in Islington, returning triumphant with a day to spare.
Of course this ignited great excitement in the cycling world, and a competition was quickly organised for the public. Prize money totalled £150, including £100 to the winner. 12 men entered and Yorkshireman Bill Cann came home in front in the very first Six Day Race.
Modern Six Day Racing
Having lost some of its appeal in the early 1980’s – many say this was because bike shops discouraged touring bikes in favour of the high speed models it has enjoyed an upturn in popularity and over the last 15 years, many Six Day races have been reintroduced across Europe. Events take place in Holland, Belgium, Italy, Germany and France.
Cyclists began to specialise in Six Day racing, with athletes travelling from event to event. A renowned group of riders included Tony Doyle, who won 23 races, becoming Britain’s most successful Six Day racer.
With cycling more popular than ever in the UK at the moment, it is exciting that, in the place of its birth, Six Day London will be relaunched and reinvented in October. Track events will take place over six consecutive evenings at the Olympic venue, Lee Valley VeloPark.
So whether you’re into cycling or not, it will be well worth getting yourself down to the park to enjoy the electric atmosphere! Tickets are available online.