When do the boys at VeloVeritas stop thinking about the Six Days? When we’re sleeping; but sometimes we dream about them . . . A man who we’ve had the pleasure to work with and who impressed us with his speed and spirit is America’s Guy East – and he’s even crazier than us about the Sixes.
We thought we’d give him a shout and see how he’s coping with a world of sunshine, no Euro pop, real food and proper toilets.
How’s the PSDSD going? ‘Post Six Day Stress Disorder’
“I miss the Six Days!
“After the completing two back-to-back six-days in Berlin and Copenhagen the only thing I wanted to do was to continue racing!
“I’m in a polar opposite world now in Tijuana enjoying the beach, studying, working and living in a lower intensity environment.
“I have a strong passion for the Six Days though. There is something special about them I can’t explain. I love them. I’m grateful for the opportunities I’ve had in them over the years.
“Every time I finish one I want more!”
What do the Six Days have to attract you that the road doesn’t?
“The Six Days are magical. I love the tradition and culture. Few people have had a glimpse into them. Much of the appeal for me comes from their history.
“It’s Six Days of suffering. The Sixes are full of stories of men overcoming all odds, and have embraced sport as entertainment. They’re under no allusions there – the organizers try to attract a full gamut of spectators.
“In Copenhagen they brought in professional boxers to spice things up. Sometimes it’s sensory overload with constant stimulation all the way through night. The environment in the Six Days is more familial and generally close-knit.
“I also like the exclusivity of the Sixes. It’s difficult to gain entrance which can be frustrating but it makes them more “sexy” in my opinion.”
How did you get the rides in Berlin and Copenhagen?
“I sent a request to the promoter of Berlin after the race in Grenoble but he turned me down because the field was full. I’m a man of faith and I prayed for this opportunity to race in Berlin and Copenhagen.
“Then a couple of months later he got back and said I was in for Berlin and Copenhagen!
“It’s cool what God can do!”
Grenoble/Berlin/Copenhagen – which track is fastest; most difficult to ride; and how does the racing compare?
“I just get on my bike and ride as hard as I can. I couldn’t tell you which is the fastest, but I like the boards in Grenoble, it’s a great track. I was most comfortable in Copenhagen though.
“It has taken me a while to feel “at home” in the sixes but in Copenhagen I felt smooth and at ease on the track. Racing-wise Berlin was the fastest.
“It was a tough race in Berlin.I was nervous and fidgety before all the big chases because I never knew what to expect. They were not easy but we had a good time.”
The 75 K handicap madison at Copenhagen – tell us about it – and did you dare to dream you could win with Zak?
“We went into the race with a sizable handicap. I lined-up knowing the limitations that we had all the while hoping to make it through 300 laps with an opportunity for victory.
“It’s the centerpiece for the Six Days of Copenhagen but I was realistic and let and cards fall as they did.”
How was acceptance by other riders?
“I feel at home with the Six Day guys. I remember watching the UIV races (U23) in 2007 and being in awe of the professional riders. Then, I was nervous whenever I was on the track with any of them.
“My first Six Day was terrifying. I didn’t know what to do or how to fit in. It’s a tight knit community and I feel like outsiders aren’t generally welcomed.
As the 2009 UIV Champions we were known by the riders but we were still the ‘new guys.’ Things have changed now. I’m not easily intimidated anymore and I feel at ease and comfortable with everyone.
“My world has shifted dramatically since my first pro Six Day in 2009. I’m much more confident. I know why I’m there and I know what I’m doing and I love it. I appreciate the way the guys have welcomed me. They are all helpful with racing tactics and so forth.
“I’ve received a lot of encouragement from them which is hard to come by in bike racing! I’ve made a lot of friends in the Six Day world.
“I like Peter Schep. He’s smooth and strong.
“I like riders with charisma; Iljo Keisse is a favorite. He’s feisty and full of personality.
“In the Sixes it’s important to have strength and stamina but there are other aspects that make riders shine too. I also like the Italians Ciccone/Masotti; they’re a good team with a touch of flavor.
“And watch out for the colorful American team on the rise – you’ll be seeing them in Fiorenzuola!”
Which is your favourite discipline in the Six Days?
“I like the super-sprint eliminations.
“I was too ambitious in Berlin in Copenhagen wanting to immediately take control and stay out of trouble. But over the course of the two events I gained a lot of valuable experience on positioning and minor tactical details. It’s a race of strategy and strength – I’m more tactical than I am strong.
“I hope to continue progressing in these races. Obviously the madisons and Derny races are favorites too.”
Which is your least favourite discipline?
“I don’t like timed events on the track. I could care less for pursuits. Although I did like the two kilometre team pursuit in Copenhagen; every once in a while they’re cool.
“It’s always nicer when you’re the stronger of the two – otherwise it’s pure misery.”
What was your toughest time during the two Six Days?
“Balancing my gratefulness for the opportunity to compete with my disappointments for not having better results. Everything is easy in the Sixes when you have a good cabin with an encouraging soigneur and positively-minded runner. It made the weeks pass quickly.
“I don’t like being around perverse and vulgar talk nor do I like condemning or judgmental attitudes. I thrive in a wholesome environment.
“A rider’s Six Day experience hinges on the people he has in his cabin. I was content with our situation. In Copenhagen we had Benjamin Edmuller too; he’s a good friend and great guy.”
What about those Six Day kitchens?
“I am grateful for the food on my plate! I know a lot of people who have it worse off than I. I will say that Grenoble is cozy.
“The soigneurs cook the food for the riders because there isn’t a kitchen for the riders. Microwave pasta, chicken, rice, etc – I kind of like it.
“There is more ’bro time’ in tight quarters.”
Have you considered perhaps looking for a place on the US track squad to ride madison at the World Cups?
“I don’t want to ride the World Cups. I wouldn’t gain anything I don’t have and care about obtaining. I don’t chase medals, results and records.
“You can call me crazy but World Cups are too much stress for me. I’m chilled out and over all that stuff. I do not thrive when there is pressure to improve my performance.
“In fact I meet my demise when people put pressure to perform on me. I don’t race to win, I race because I love it and every once in while winning is a result.”
How’s the track scene in San Diego and Mexico?
“There are four tracks within a 2.5 hour drive from where I live. Tijuana has a great 250m wood track built by Peter Junek but it’s tough to get on and there aren’t many races.
“Racing in San Diego has a good following by the hipster/fixed gear crowd – it’s always fun to go out there.
“But one of my favorite tracks is the Major Taylor Velodrome in my hometown of Indianapolis. They are making great strides forward as one of the hot beds for development and racing.
“Dean Peterson and Marian University have undertaken a great initiative to revamp that facility.”
Could a Six Day work in the US?
“With a well-thought plan and motivated organizing committee it can happen.
“Money is obviously important too but I’m much less concerned about the money than the first two items I mentioned.”
How are the plans going for the winter of 13/14?
“I’m planning on racing in Fiorenzuola. It’s one of my favorite places to race. Claudio Santi, the organizer, has been very welcoming over the years and I appreciate his efforts. I’m going to take another American there this year with hopes of a continuing with him into the winter.
“I want to create a small American “Six Day Team” so we can comfortably race the Sixes every winter.
“Right now I buy my bikes and pay for everything. More Than Sport, Oakley and Predator Bars are the only supporters I have now. Hopefully that changes.
“I also want to see a revival of spirituality and service in the sporting world in the coming years. I want to help reintroduce optional chapel services during the Six Days and encourage athletes to step out in service and give back.
“Needless to say, I am ready and excited for next season!”