Dortmund: Day 1

This is a whole different world. Everything I thought I knew about track racing was turned on its head last night. The racing is still premier, but what's so amazing is the racing itself, but the spectacle that gets created around it. Pictures will sum it up better than any description I can give.

First, a lap around Dortmund during warm-ups this afternoon.

At the conclusion of the first pro madison of the night. The light shows they put on are more like something from a rock concert of a discotheque.

Erik Zabel and Leif Lampater won the madison, but both were out early in the barely contested eliminations that followed. There were some riders who looked crestfallen to not be the first or second eliminated, as that meant they had to go a few more laps before resting in preparation for the next madison.

One thing that makes racing here seem even more surreal is that they have the lights on the track set very bright, but the everywhere else, in the stands and on the infield, is comparatively dark. It has the effect of making the track look like it's glowing.

The service door that opens in turn 2 to provide access to the infield, and let a German rendition of the Blues Brother drive a mock-up police car around the track a few times. It may be good for the spectators, but the seams it creates in the track can really hurt if you hit them and aren't expecting it.

What race would be complete without a beer garden, VIP dinner, mini-blimp, and German Blues Brothers act? We need some of this action in Blaine.

Adrian and I managed a pretty solid race for my first time in a 6-day. Beforehand he had been giving me some advice on how to position in the group, and the importance of staying at the front. The sprints here rarely have people going for it 4 or 5 wide, shoulder to shoulder. Instead, the pace ramps up, and if you're at the front, you'll probably get some points. The tricky part is maintaining your position at the head of a line of 14 teams, which means swinging up and chopping straight back down about 3 or 4 wheels later, hooking whatever hapless team may be there to the apron, and taking his spot. This would never fly in the US, but it's just what's expected here. People know it's going to happen, and it's never done maliciously. You simply make the move with conviction, and they let you in. If you don't, and just drift down (like I was doing at Alkmaar) not only do you not get back in until you reach the end of the line, but people will think you're a pansy.

I got the positioning thing down pretty quickly, but the wind-up to the sprint is still giving me trouble. About 10 laps out, teams start swarming over the top, and I would tend to get caught under the wave. Tonight I'll try to force my way into the line and keep from getting spit out on the back of the pack.

One thing that surprised me is how many American teams got into the race. We have 3 teams here: myself and Adrian, Dave Wiswell and Jackie Simes, and the USAC team of Guy East and Austin Carroll. The only country more represented is Germany, with 4 teams.