The Six Days of London

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Each year Jemmac offer staff the chance to take part in an Activity Day of their choice funded by the company. The only rules are that at least two people must participate and that a days leave must be used to cover the time.

Previous Activity Days have often involved steering wheels and an excess of horse power, so for a change three of Jemmac’s keener cyclists decided to embark on a two-wheeled themed day out in London, culminating with a VIP attendance to the 3rd Night at the 2019 Six Days Event at the 2012 Olympic Velodrome.

Riders being paired with their drivers for the Derney event

For those not in the know, the ‘Six Days’ is an annual race series which sees World Class cyclists put to the test in a variety of races all held on a velodrome.  Races takes part over six nights with the riders competing in pairs representing their home nation. This years series navigated the globe; with events in London, Berlin, Copenhagen, Melbourne, Hong Kong, Manchester and Brisbane.

The exciting news for British cycling fans was that the ‘Manx Missile’ Mark Cavendish was competing for Team GB, so the stage was set for some raucous home support!

See here for more info: https://sixday.com/about-us

Leisurely Start

The Six Days event wasn’t starting until the evening which meant that the morning was more relaxed than a normal activity day. 

After doing the school run and sorting a database issue for a customer, I decided to get on my road bike and headed out for just over an hour around the local country roads. After a quick 15 mile spin I got home with just enough time for a coffee and a quick shower before my taxi arrived to take me to Milton Keynes station.

Once there, I met up with my partners in crime for the day – Jemmac Directors and fellowing cycling enthusiasts James Weedon and Matt Underwood for our train ride down to London. 

Rapha London Soho

The best coffee on the planet?

Arriving at Piccadilly Circus tube station we went outside to find that the heavens had ‘blessed’ our Activity Day with biblical quantities of rain! 

Our first stop was Rapha London Soho – an up market cycling shop with an in store cafe – which was only a few hundred yards from the station. Needless to say we arrived at the store soaked, looking rather bedraggled and feeling somewhat sorry for ourselves.

This was soon rectified with a round of good quality coffee from their in-store cafe.  The debate of whether the weather outside was getting better or worse took some considerable time, so another round of coffee’s was ordered!

Unfortunately the rain was showing no sign of dissipating so we made a dash from the Rapha store to the closest shop that sold pop up umbrellas.  Suitably kitted out, we made our way to the Pinarello Superstore on Regent Street. 

Pinarello Superstore

For those who don’t know, Pinarello are one of the ‘supercar’ brands of the cycling world being ridden to huge success in recent years by the likes of Chris Froome, Geraint Tomas and Egan Bernal for Team Sky (now Ineos) at cycling’s Grandee events – the Giro d’Italia, the Tour de France and the Vuelta a España.

So it was no surprise to to see that most of the bikes came with eye-watering price tags! 

Sustenance

After gawping at the bikes in store we made a visit to China town for a spot of lunch followed by a trip to the BrewDog pub on Shaftesbury Avenue. We had just enough time for a pint before we had to make our way to the London Velodrome, host of the 2012 London Olympics Velodrome.

Note: sometime after the day we found out that our chosen BrewDog had hosted a cycling evening with GCN and Wahoo where people competed on indoor smart trainers. So unbeknownst to us, the cycling theme had been maintained even whilst supping a pint!

The Six Days

Upon arrival at the Velodrome we made our way to the VIP entrance – no messing with the hoi polloi for us!

After signing in we received our VIP passes and were ushered down a series of corridors which lead to the centre of the track and the Jemmac table. This gave us a fantastic view of the racing, but it did require you to spin slowly on the spot in order to follow the riders right the way round a full circuit!  Something that seemed to get easier as the evening wore on and the complimentary wine flowed!

The VIP area as viewed from the cheap seats!

Our table came suitably equipped with food and beverages so we made oursevles comfortable for the evenings events. The centre of the track is also where the riders put up their feet and try to recover between races.  This gave us a brilliant opportunity to see the riders up close courtesy of a pit tour – all part of our VIP package.

The post race interviews were held very close to our table allowing us to see not only cycling gods such as Mark Cavendish and Elia Viviani up close, but it also gave us a glimpse of ex British Road Race Champion Matt Stevens, more recently of GCN YouTube fame and now one of the anchor commentators for Eurosport on their cycling coverage. His infectious laughter has brightened many a GCN Youtube video, so it was interesting to see him switching on his game face for the interviews.

At one point James W decided to take a wander and view the world from the ‘cheap seats’ on the outside of the track. Midway across he bumped into the Beefeaters, a well known group of Cycling fans who travel the world entertaining the crowds whilst they wait for their cycling heroes to appear at the top of some of the worlds most challenging climbs. Clearly the selfie opportunity was too good for James to resist!

See: https://youtu.be/tSIccnYmxZI

The highlight of the evening was definitely the Team Elimination Race where British cycling legend Mark Cavendish and his teammate Owain Doull beat the Italian pairing of Simone Consonni and Elia Viviani.  The roar from the crowd as the Brits took the win nearly took the roof off. Cav’s popularity clearly is as strong with home fans as ever and based on this form he can look forward to a very successful 2020 as Viviani is one of the worlds best.

After a full evenings entertainment the final stage was being whisked off into the night and delivered safely at our homes by a chauffeur driven Mercedes.

Many thanks to Matt for organising and to Jemmac for another excellent Activity Day,

James Slootweg

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