28 February 2010

Cyclists Rewarded With Hot Cocoa in Randers

Cyclists rewarded with hot cocoa
Cyclists crossing the bicycle bridge over the harbour in Randers were rewarded with hot cocoa last week. Randers is a provincial town in Jutland with about 60,000 citizens. The city's traffic department and the European Union programme Trendy Travel and Beredskabstjenesten [anyone have a good translation for THAT?] set up a table and offered winter cyclists a hot drink of chocolate goodness in the morning as a pat on the back for cycling in this year's harsh winter.

Not everyone fancied stopping - cycling is A to B business in Denmark and when you leave A you generally just want to get to B - but a number of people took up the offer of cocoa. Like Ilse Andreasen, above.

She rides her bicycle to work all year round, except for about five days when it's too slippery. She said to Randers Amts newspaper that it has to be exceptionally cold before she freezes. Good on you, Ilse.

The free cocoa is the first of a series of initiatives scheduled for the spring that will place focus on the benefits of cycling to work.

Here's the warm cocoa ready for the cyclists.

Spoil your Citizen Cyclists wherever possible. That's what we say.

Via Randers Amtsavisen.

26 February 2010

Bicycle Knife Sharpeners

Knife sharpeners
A historical photo of two classic figures in bicycle history. Two knife sharpeners. They rode about both the countryside and the city, offering their blade sharpening services to anyone who would pay the price.

The usual setup was like the bicycle on the left. The back bicycle wheel was rigged with an external cog onto which a strap was attached so that they could sit stationary and pedal whilst sharpening knives, scissors and all manner of blades. The chap on the left as a similar but seemingly more complex system.

The last time I saw one was in the city centre about ten years ago. Parked in a courtyard behind a trendy café, he was handed knives from the chefs through the window and he would mount his bicycle and sharpen them to perfection.

Here's a more recent version from the streets of Africa. Wonderful. Thanks for the link in the comments.

25 February 2010

Branding Denmark

Denmark Introduces Harrowing New Tourism Ads Directed By Lars Von Trier
This has nothing to do with bicycles or Citizen Cyclists, but it's hilarious. I think it helps if you know the work of the director Lars von Trier - Mr Miserable.

Great satire from The Onion. Thanks to Todd for the link.

23 February 2010

Hungarian Bike to Work Campaign

If there were a World Championship for Promoting Cycling Positively, the Hungarians would be the bookmakers favourites to win every time.

There's simply very little competition out there to compete with them. The Dutch would be the only real competitors. Even so the Hungarians would probably win by a spoke simply because they're working towards increasing urban cycling and estabishing a bicycle culture and that energy would put them over the line first.

The above film is for the national Bike to Work campaign - Bringázz a Munkába. Showing cycling as normal and accepted. Highlighting community. Here's another one from the same campaign, showing what many might consider to be an unlikely candidate for cycling to work enjoying his commute. Selling it positively:

The Hungarian Cyclists Federation - Magyar Kerékpárosklub - are legends at promoting cycling positively. I've had the pleasure to meet with them and discuss promotion and behavioural campaigns. They are extremely well-informed and passionate and just sitting around a table with them is infectious. Their focus is, rightly, on mainstreaming urban cycling. Reestablishing the bicycle as a respected transport option. Respecting the sub-cultural aspects but aiming high at getting regular citizens to ride. For more about that there's always the Behavourial Challenges for Urban Cycling essay.

Here's another film from the campaign. We have enough Hungarian readers on this blog to be able to muster a translation, don't we? Chuck 'em into the comments.

And here's an advert from a previous Bike to Work campaign:

Rest assured, there are other cities doing the right thing and investing in campaigns that portray urban cycling for what it is; quick, effortless, enjoyable, etc. We have a few of them in this post about How Other Cities are Promoting Cycling.

But then there are cities who haven't understood the marketing basics. Like the last film in the above post about other cities, or the laughable attempt at 'promoting' cycling from Los Angeles DoT.

If we're talking World Championships, with the prize being a sharp rise in the number of Citizen Cyclists, cities that promote cycling with fear myths and car-centric angles won't even finish the race while cities like Budapest et al will win all the amazing societal benefits to be won.

I've been toying with the idea of a series of Copenhagenize Heroes photos. Portraits of people I've been lucky enough to meet on my bicycle travels and who inspire me and Copenhagenize. Let's start tout suite.
The President
Copenhagenize Hero #1 - Janos Laszlo, President of the Hungarian Cyclists Club. For his undying optimism, passion and visionary goals for putting the bike back into Hungary, under the bottoms of Citizen Cyclists across the land.

22 February 2010

Levenshulme Bicycle Orchestra

Huw, from Manchester, sent us this press release about the new album from Levenshulme Bicycle Orchestra - "Probably the only bike band in the world at the moment", as he puts it. Show 'em some of that 'bike love'.

Download/buy the album if you like it from concretemoniker.co.uk

Huw rolls around Manchester on an old Crescent bike he found in a skip in Sweden. Respect.

21 February 2010

Aarhus - Bicycle City

Last year the City of Aarhus - Denmark's second largest city - launched a comprehensive campaign to encourage more citizens to cycle. The city's post code is 8000 and the campaign is subsequently called "8000 Advantages to Cycling".

Here's some of the highlights of the campaign. Aarhus lags behind Copenhagen and Odense in the levels of cycle traffic so this campaign is aimed at doing something about it. By and large, from a marketing perspective, the campaign does well to sell urban cycling as positive. There are snippets of fear mongering present in the form of bike helmet promotion, despite the warnings of doing so, but it's impressive in the current Culture of Fear climate in Denmark that the campaign is largely positive.

Photo from the campaign. The eternally iconic Cycling Girl so dear to Danish culture.

There were also various programmes as a part of the campaign to bring the joy of cycling to children.

The city sent people out onto the streets and bike lanes to hand out bottles of water and seat covers as encougagement for choosing the bicycle.

They whipped together a little youtube film, asking the people they stopped why they choose to ride their bikes.

The first girl: "It's healthy and it's fast."
The next chap: "I hate public transport and waiting for buses. And it's healthy, but I don't think about that very much. And it's free!"
The little girl in the plastic hat: "Because I like to ride my bicycle." Bless her cotton socks. And when asked if she rides to daycare, she replies yes.
Next guy: "It's easy and fast. It's not far to school and regarding grocery shopping, it's just the easiest".
Next girl: (I think she says...) "Save money."

A number of facilities were implemented along with the campaign. Posters, websites and banners can't do the job alone. Citizens need to see practical, physical additions on the urban landscape. Here we have a long row of new bike racks outside, I believe, a school. On this stretch leading to the school one of the car lanes was removed to create a safe and wide bike lane for the kids.

And this sign flashes when a truck turning right is present. A little too much ignoring the bull, in Copenhagenize's opinion - that is to say, if it stands on it's own and without any responsibility placed on the vehicle and driver of the vehicle.

Another visible inititative is the possibility for citizens in Aarhus to let the city know about potholes or other irritating problems regarding cycling. The city will prioritize repairing the problems that citizens send in.

Banners were set up throughout the city highlighting various advantages to choosing the bicycle. Here we have advantage 262: Exercise and Fresh Air.

Advantage 7522: Freedom and wind in the hair.

Cycling is hot and with the recent injection of federal money into cycling - 94 billion kroner - many Danish cities are eager to build even more infrastructure and launch campaigns.

This example from Aarhus leads the way.

20 February 2010

PRESTO - New EU Project for Cycling as Transport

PRESTO – “Promoting Cycling for Everyone as a Daily Transport Mode” is a new project of the EU’s Intelligent Energy – Europe Programme granted by the Executive Agency for Competitiveness and Innovation (EACI).

PRESTO is about competence building in cycling policies. The project aims to offer a set of tools for technicians to create cycle friendly urban environments, to implement sound cycling plans and to start up targeted promotion campaigns.

The five PRESTO cities are:
Bremen (Germany): 650 km of bike-lanes inside of streets, incl. stripes and advisory lanes, and the highest rate of bike-transport in cities over half a million inhabitants of Germany. More than 42.000 bike-trips a day are made into the city centre and one third of the trips in Bremen are longer than 6 km. This is remarkable, because the average bike distance in Germany is about 3 km and 85% of the trips are no longer than 6 km.

Grenoble (France): 300km of reserved cycle paths in the agglomeration and three outlets rent “Métro-vélo” bicycles to the public. The Métro contributes to improving the safety of “soft modes” by encouraging communes to create 30km/h zones to slow car traffic.

As well as, Tczew (Poland), Venice (Italy) and Zagreb (Croatia).

19 February 2010

Just Getting On With It

Nørrebrogade Afternoon
The season's umpteenth snowstorm yesterday. For the first time in ages the temperature crawled above freezing to settle at 1 degree C. The snow blew in from the south, which made for a nice change, as it usually comes from the north, east or west in the winter. Nice for me, since it meant tailwind all the way to my 'hood to pick up the kids.
Afternoon Traffic
Most of the traffic at this time of day is heading north, but the flow into the city centre is still considerable.
Traffic in Snowstorm

A Flurry of Winter Cyclists

Dublin's Two-Wheeled Taliban

Dublin Bicycles
Dublin. 1961.

The frightening "Two-wheeled Taliban" terrorize the streets of the Irish capital.
Dublin Bicycles
Like I always say, welcome to Bicycle Culture 2.0. We've been there before. We're there again in many cities. We're going there again in many, many others. Time to get used to it.

Will Dublin be at the head of the pack or lagging behind? Hopefully I'll be visiting in June to check it all out.

Photos spotted on the quite brilliant How To Be A Retronaut. Thanks to Alexander for the link.

18 February 2010

Creeps and Weirdos

Another excellent example of how the automobile industry pushes the right buttons on the right stereotypes in their marketing. Lessons to be learned by cities and towns in their marketing of public transport and urban cycling.

Todd from Green Idea Factory photoshopped the advert a while back. The result can be seen on his blog here.

Spotted on the always excellent Urbanophile blog.

The Portland Wall

The People's Department of Transportation, in Portland, has issued a communique about The Wall that restricts urban mobility in the city.

Ignoring the Bull, restricting citizens from moving freely through their urban landscape, spending $100,000 more on a Wall than what a crosswalk would have cost.

Brilliant film. Brilliant.

Maybe we should organize a Bike Lift to ferry food and drink to those cut off on either side.

Bicycles and Poetry in Lisbon

From our friends at Curtiba Cycle Chic we have found poetry and bicycles. On the bike lane along the banks of the River Tagus in Lisbon excerpts of the poem "The Keeper of Sheep" by Fernando Pessoa (nom de plume: Alberto Caeiro) are printed on the asphalt.

What a brilliant idea. Urban cycling may be transport, but it is also culture and marrying it to poetry further removes it from sport, which is the way forward for encouraging more people to cycle.

I like the graphic addition to the urban landscape, too. Perfect for The Slow Bicycle Movement.

17 February 2010

Vintage Bicycle Infrastructure

Copenhagen - Strandvejen 1955
Here's a photo taken from the Dansk Cyklist Forbund's book commemorating their 100th anniversary. It shows a bike lane in the suburbs on Strandvejen, the coast road north of Copenhagen, and the morning rush hour towards the city. The year is 1955. I recognize the location as being Strandvejen 215, if any one is riding past one day.

Anyway, separated infrastructure, as we all know, gets people cycling. As the photo clearly demonstrates. It's worth mentioning that this neighbourhood and the ones around it are considered quite posh. This stretch away from the city has been called The Whiskey Belt for a very long time. To distinguish the residents, not always positively in a historical context, from the beer drinking masses. So here are Denmark's middle class to upper class commuting on bicycles to work in the city.

Building Bike Lanes
I haven't been able to find photos of the earliest examples of bicycle lanes/infrastructure, but this photo is from the 1920's and show the building of separated lanes. It's from the excellent Copenhagen by Bike exhibition at the City Museum.
Building Bike Lanes
And here's a photo from the exhibition from the beginning of the renaissance of our modern bicycle culture. The reestablishment of physically-separated lanes in the 1980's after many had been dismantled due the boom in car culture.

Bicycle infrastructure is almost as old as the bicycle itself in countries like Denmark and the Netherlands. A bit younger in the UK, but still old and wise.

16 February 2010

Clear Passage

Bikes Not Cars
Winter's grip on Copenhagen is still firm. All the snow is formed into frozen ridges throughout the city. As we've been banging on about, the bike lanes are are a main priority and they are cleared first, long before the roads. The bike lane snowploughs zip dutifully back and forth.

I did, however, read that the counties in Denmark are overbudget regarding snow clearing. The annual budget for all the counties is 1 billion kroner [ca. $185 million] and that number is already doubled this year.

The main thoroughfares in Copenhagen are cleared to accomdate the daily armada of bicycles but on the more minor roads without separated bike infrastructure, the snowploughs ain't been visiting. The roads are divided up into A roads and B roads and the focus is on the A roads with all this snowfall.

But I've forgotten about the photo up top. This is near the city centre on a relatively main street. The bike lane is cleared but all the snow from the bike lane and the street has been ploughed into a ridge to the left of the bike lane.

Normally, this is car parking. You can see what the minivan has to do to park, sticking halfway out into traffic. Farther along, outside a hotel entrance, cars are precariously parked on packed snow.

Meanwhile, the bicycles roll on.

15 February 2010

Daycare Bicycles

Daycare Bicycles
The vast majority of parents to children at our daycare drop off/pick up their kids on bicycles. Last Friday the children dressed up in costumes to celebrate Fastelavn, the millenia-old Nordic pagan version of the carnival celebrating the approaching spring.

The parents were invited to hang out and have a cup of coffee and a fastelavn pastry, which is why there is congestion in the bicycle parking out front. Normally, the drop off / pick up times are scattered all over the morning / afternoon depending on each family's routine so it was cool to see the armada of bicycles all at once. This is just one angle. I was in a hurry. The bicycles continue around the corner and into the beyond.

It's different at schools where the bell rings daily at 08:00 so there is an intense flow of bicycles approaching my son's school in the 10-15 minutes up to the bell. Get there early to get a good bike parking spot.

14 February 2010

Cyclist Without a Route

This is the current cover of a national newspaper, Weekendavisen, which is published weekly. It's a fine, high-brow publication with in-depth articles and features.

The cover features a photo of the Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen and the title "Cyclist Without a Route". The PM is under criticism of late for his lack of leadership ability. The vultures are circling. Personally, I'm looking forward to a regime change, but that's not the point of this post.

It's merely to point out how a bicycle-related metaphor is used as a headline in an article about a politician. That's how deeply rooted the bicycle is in Danish culture and everyday life. It's a metaphor we all understand.

Sure, the PM likes riding bicycles and rides speedy varieties in charity events. The former PM, Anders Fogh Rasmussen went for mountain bike rides with George Bush a few times, too. At a recent press conference the PM tried to answer the whirlwind of criticism by comparing politics to cyclesport. Sometimes it's uphill, sometimes it's downhill.

Regardless of his metaphor, the title of the article can stand on its own. Another example of how the bicycle has penetrated our language and culture. No other country has so many songs, poems, literature references and films about bicycles.

"A cyclist without a route" is not an expression in the Danish language, but there are many linguistic examples where the bicycle features. I've blogged about some before, but here's a list.

Cykler rundt i det / Cycles around in it - meaning he is confused and lacks direction. "Sorry, but I'm cycling around in it today..."

Kæden hoppede af / the chain fell off - A way to describe how your day - or anything else - is not going as planned. "His chain hopped off today..."

Giv baghjul / Give someone the back wheel - What you do when you overtake someone or beat someone. At a football match a couple of weeks ago, where my son played, we beat another team and one of the parents said, "We gave them the back wheel!"

And now I realise that after four hours of indoor football... my brain and body are fried so I can't remember the others... :-)

Have a great second half to the weekend.

13 February 2010

Men of England Rise Up Against Reckless Motorists

This text was seen on posters circulated in London back in 1908. Quite visionary. Time for history to repeat itself? Time to reclaim our streets, not just for cyclists, but for all citizens?

As read in the book Death on the Streets - Cars and the mythology of road safety, as mentioned in the previous post.

Death on the Streets - Cars and Mythology of Road Safety

Death on The Streets

Another book which is so interesting that it makes my head hurt is by Robert Davis. Death on the Streets: Cars and the Mythology of Road Safety.

I've been reading it for ages. A couple of pages is enough for me to put it down and reflect. It's chock full of facts and references, as well as thought-provoking observations about the role of the car in our societies.

It discusses how most of the 'road safety improvements' of the past 50 years, from road design to seat belts, have actually resulted in a terrifying increase in danger from cars, which permeates all over lives and the book is also 'a social history of the terrible toll of car surpremacy...'

Worldwide, between 15-20 million people have died and hundreds of millions have been permanently injured in road accidents since the beginnings of motorised society early last century.

The book's publication in 1993 brought about the formation of the Road Danger Reduction Forum, of which Robert Davis is the chair.

12 February 2010

Children More Dangerous Than Mobile Phones

Felix and Daddy in Chatellion Plage
Children are more dangerous than mobile phones

There is a lot of focus in Denmark and elsewhere about using mobile photos whilst driving. It's the cause-du-jour at the moment, it seems.

A report from the Technical University of Denmark [DTU] was published yesterday that shows that talking on the mobile occupies a third place on the list of dangerous things to do whilst driving.

The researchers estimate that a third of all traffic accidents are caused by lack of attention.

According to the report, talking with others in the car is more dangerous and most likely to remove the driver's focus on the traffic. One sixth of the accidents caused by lack of concentration [aren't ALL accidents caused by lack of concentration?] are because the driver had contact with passengers. Especially children in the car are a major distraction.

Next on the list is adjusting the radio or music system. In third place it's the mobile phone. In fourth it's adjusting the car's climate system and in fifth place it's drivers eating or drinking at the wheel.

Senior Researcher Mette Møller from DTU Transport believes that the new data should be used in future campaigns:

"What it is that distracts us isn't important. The circumstances are are equal. If you're driving on clear roads in light traffic it's okay to eat a sandwich. On the other hand it can be dangerous to engage in conversation with your passengers or listen to music blasting at high volume if you're driving in heavy traffic."

Personally, I would have hoped that their conclusions were the necessity of further investment in public transport and positive campaigns to encourage more citizens to choose the bicycle. I'm realising that such things are increasingly occupying space in my wishful thinking box.

Upside Down - The Sacred Car

One of our readers, Sam, mentioned that an essay by the Uruguayen poet and writer Eduardo Galeano was required reading in his sustainable transportation class.

The essay is titled The Sacred Car and is in the book Upside Down - A Primer for the Looking-Glass World.

It's a fantastically eloquent and yet scathing attack on car culture. It starts with:

"Human rights pale beside the rights of machines. In more and more cities, especially in the giant metropolises of the South, people have been banned. Automobiles usurp human space, poison the air, and frequently murder the interlopers who invade their conquered territory - and no one lifts a finger to stop them. Is there a difference between violence that kills by car and that which kills by knife or bullet?"

The rest of the essay is just as to the point. I've never had anything in common with a respected Uruguayen - writer or otherwise - before but I'm pleased how his title The Sacred Car is reflected in the essay about The Sacred Bull in Society's China Shop.

Indeed, he writes in the essay that:
"I saw a cigarette ad in a magazine with the required public health warning: 'Tobacco smoke contains carbon monoxide.' But the same magazine has several car ads and not one of them warned that car exhaust, nearly always invisible, contains much more carbon monoxide. People can't smoke. Cars can."

We have a solution for the health warning labels on cars. We're just waiting for someone to finance our efforts... :-)

All in all the essay is refreshing in its tone and no-nonsense approach to contemplating the destructive road we're all travelling down.

Salon has a piece about the book which is worth reading: "Upside Down" by Eduardo Galeano. The author of "Memory of Fire" delivers a scathing, mischievous indictment of North America's hypocrisy and consumer culture.

It is a Lovely Country

Bike Shop Vehicle
Photo by Marie.

You see this truck quite often around Copenhagen. It's from the Københavns Cykelbørs - Copenhagen Bicycle Exchange - who rent bicycles to tourists as well as selling bicycles and doing repairs. The truck transport the bikes around to various locations where and if they're needed.

The text on the artwork "Det er et yndigt land..." is the opening lyrics to the national anthem and translated it works out as: "It is a lovely country..." To hear what the national anthem sounds like when sung by 42,000 men, women and children at a national football match, click here.

There is a lovely land
with broad, shady beeches
Near salty Baltic beaches
Its hills and valleys rise and fall
its ancient name is Denmark,
And it is Freya's hall

This land is still as fair,
the sea is blue around it,
And peace is cherished there
Strong men and noble women still
uphold their country's honour
With faithfulness and skill

Anyway, there have been various owners over the years and the shop has moved about town until settling into the current location in the 1950's.
Det er et yndigt land
Photo by Marie.

The business celebrated their 125th anniversary in 2007, which is when the colourful artwork was produced for the truck. Yep, that's 125 years. Cornelius Steffensen founded the company in 1881, selling and renting bicycles as a supplement to his cigar company at first. He advertised that he had taught over 1500 ladies, gents and children to ride bicycles without a single accident. He was also the first private car owner in Denmark.

Back in the heady days of the 1970's it was the largest bicycle rental company in Europe.

Københavns Cykelbørs is located at Gothersgade 157.

11 February 2010

ANT Bicycles - The Movie

Fine little film about the bikemakers at ANT Bicycles in the States.
They featured in the awe-inspiringly prestigious Bikes We Like section here on Copenhagenize a couple of years ago. Although we're quite sure that THAT accolade never got them any free beers or knickers thrown into their workshop by screaming fans.

Thanks to Matthias for the link.

09 February 2010

Bike Crutch

Crutch Bike
Ah, yes, how the bicycle eases our transportational needs, however odd they may be on occasion. This Copenhagener had issues with her foot. It's bandaged and wrapped in plastic.
Crutch Bike
Her companion walked alongside with crutches which were, I'm assuming, too cumbersome and slippery on the wintry sidewalks and crosswalks.

So... take a bike. Training wheels or not, it's still quicker and, most importantly, more comfortable. Viva la bicycle.

08 February 2010

Cyclesport for The People - The Six Day Race

Six Day Race - Spectator
I was at the Copenhagen Six Day Race last Saturday and it was brilliant For the past century the Six Day Races were a major event on the Copenhagen calendar. They live on each February in the Ballerup Super Arena but everyone laments the fact that they are no longer held in Forum, close to the city centre, where they were held between 1934-1997.

Nevertheless, the event is still festive and, most importantly, still the purest form of cyclesport for the people.

The Six Day Races [The Sixes] have a long history since their conception in 1878 in England but I'll let the Wikipedia page on Six Day Races tell you all about that.
Six Day Race Six Day Race - Film Poster Six Day Race Game
Gone are the days when the riders rode for six days straight - with one of the pair required to be on the track at all times. At night things were quiet, as you can see in the photo. Time to read a newspaper whilst cycling around the track. His partner was catching some sleep. Gone are also the days when the nation's film stars featured in a film based on The Sixes or children and families played Six Day Race board games. Alas.

Now they race for six days but in the evenings. In the case of the Copenhagen race, from 19:30 to 00:30 ish, sometimes later. Last Saturday I was at the race with the good people from Biomega and Hans from Larry vs Harry. Beer and Bicycles were on the cards.

It was my first time at The Sixes. When I worked at Danish Broadcasting a few years back I had the chance on a project to work with old archive footage from the past 80 years. Most of it sports. So seeing a few hours of footage from the 'good old days' of The Sixes has given me the sense of being there before. Nowadays it's more sterile in a way, but still a fantastic experience.

The crowd on Saturday was mix of families, quiet older gents sipping pints, young bucks on a boys night out and couples in suits, furs and heels having dinner in the middle of the arena, surrounded by humming bicycles. I was in the VIP event area in the middle, at one end. Up close and personal on the steep bank.
Six Day Race - Pair Number 7
A tradition in the Copenhagen race is that it's an honour to be given Pair #7 and it's usually an all-Danish partnership who get to wear the 7. This year it was Alex Rasmussen and Michael Mørkøv, defending world champions to boot. So the local crowd knew who to watch and cheer for. The pair annoyed Berliners the week before by winning the Berlin Sixes.

In the course of the evening The Sixes offer a potpourri of disciplines. It's hard to keep track, actually. Fortunately there is signature music that booms out of the speakers when the final sprint. Actually, music is a major factor and the races are not unlike being at a concert with a crazy medley of music from 50's rock to 00's pop. Punctuated by the traditional Sixes melodies.

The Six Day Races have their own trademark song which is traditionally played during each lap of honour for the winners of the day's various disciplines. The music was composed in Germany in the 1930's. In Denmark we needed lyrics because we like to sing when we're drunk. The song was/is sung at every race. The music features in the little film I whipped together, above, and here are the Danish lyrics - which rhyme in the original language - translated:

The Six Days Waltz
Now there's a party mood
Who do you think will be best?
That guy is my favourite
Even though he's let me down so often.

That guy in black is a wimp
But in a sprint he is tough
Get pedalling
Even though you'll be sore in the final
Keep your good humour and ride.

Show us what you've got [whistle, whistle, whistle, whistle]
Give it a bit extra [w w w w]
Pedal harder [w w w w]
and you'll win.[w w w w]

And if you're last [w w w w]
Well, that's sad [w w w w]
But get your chin up [w w w w]
And take it like a man [w w w w]

Six Day Race - Congrats
Like I said, this really is cyclesport for the people. The Tour de France, in Europe anyway, has long been released from the possessive grip of 'sport' and has been siphoned down into a broader cultural sphere. Still, in the modern era you get the sense that you're somehow separated from the riders by the glass wall of celebrity and sponsor cash.

The Sixes maintain their close contact with the crowd. Just look at the film, above. When the riders - all professional cyclists - were doing the preliminary laps of the final 60 minute pursuit discipline, they did the wave with the crowd. Three times! Before getting down to business and racing like the wind.

In the breaks I saw a Swiss rider chatting up four girls at a table nearby. Him on his bike on the track, holding onto the boards and flirting. Brilliant stuff. And he was leading the race, with his partner, on Saturday.

Another tradition is that different sponsors offer up different prizes for the various sprints/events. One rider will win a washing machine. Another will pocket 500 kroner a fancy bottle of wine. On top of their paycheques, of course. All prizes that the crowd can identify with.

Six Day Race - Ballerup Super Arena Six Day Race - Massage
The close proximity to the riders adds to the folksy feel. You spend 5 hours with them as they keep roaring past and when they have a break, you can peer down into their boxes while they relax with a massage, check their mails, whatever.

Six Day Race 2010 - Cool Cat Six Day Race - Danny Clarke
The fact that in the Derny events the pros get to ride behind cool cats like these certainly adds to the folksy aspect. The chap on the left looks like half the men in the crowd, even though he's a legendary pacer from Belgium. And on the right is Australian Danny Clarke, legendary Sixes rider with 74 wins - 8 of them in Copenhagen. He sang a couple of songs - My Way was one of them - with the band after the Derny race.

Six Day Race - Men in Tight Pants Holding Hands Six Day Race - Men in Tight Pants Holding Hands
And yes, yet another sport with homoerotic undertones. Skinny men in tight pants holding hands. Admit it, if male spectators didn't secretly enjoy the homoerotic elements of so many popular sports we'd all just be fly fishermen. :-)
Six Day Race - Men in Tight Pants Holding Hands

Anyway, here's the Flickr set of all the photos from the cracking night out last Saturday.
Six Day Race - Solo Six Day Race - American
Nice to see that there is a pocket of sport that still keeps a close relationship with the crowd. Just like all sport used to be. And still should be.