what i want to bring your attention to are these races that occur throughout the span of six consecutive days and the winner is basically the rider that accumulates the most miles throughout the six days. the whole race takes place on a track, meaning velodrome, and when originally started was said to take 10 years of the life of anyone who participated. the reason being was that in its early days, the racers would basically ride until they collapsed. we're talking about 1877, which is when the first six day was held in england, so there were no rules or regulations that showed any concern for the athlete. bicycles were relatively a very new thing back in those days anyway and the crowd loved the fact that they could watch something that was so destructive to a human being much like watching two sides go to war with each other. these days the races still exist, mostly in europe, but their are time restraints set and teams of no more than 3 people are able to compete so that no one racer over exerts him or herself more that he or she has to.
in the book im reading the event is described to seem like a full on party. there were bands playing, vendors selling food and trinkets, jugglers...you name it. not to mention that no event of this scale was complete without its share of celebrities and being that it took place in madison square garden, all the rich socialites of the time were there in full regalia. whats funny is that since bikes were so new at this time some of the racers weren't really cyclist at all and most of them had never even raced in such a huge event with as many competitors so therefore the crashes and wipeouts were apparently epic and sometimes they fell into the spectators of rich folk that had the means of acquiring the best seats in the house, which were along the track. "damn it, muffy, that oath broke my pipe and monocle. what ever will i do?"
so i recommend reading about this little bit of interesting bicycle history here.
enjoy and as always...ride on!!
p.s. don't forget miami critical mass this friday august, 28th.