In 1920, the big earners in American sports were Six-Day
bicycle racers. Frank Kramer, Alf Goullet, and Reggie
McNamara, each exceeded the paltry $20,000 paid to baseball’s
Babe Ruth, who hit 54 home runs that year for the Yankees.
- In the summers, track riders competed in sprints on
outdoor tracks. From November to March, cyclists commuted by
train on a circuit from New York City to Chicago, Boston,
Toronto, St. Louis, Minneapolis, San Francisco and other
cities for Six-Day races around steeply banked indoor board
tracks. North America had as many Sixes as in Europe.
- Fifteen teams of two riders each competed for six days and
nights straight—up to 146 hours of nonstop action.
- Each team had a rider pedaling around the human squirrel
cage while his partner left to eat or nap. The launch of a
cyclist bent low over his steel frame, suddenly shooting from
the rolling pack to “steal” a lap, ignited a chase.
- The best riders of their generation from both sides of the
Atlantic and Pacific competed in U.S. Sixes, including Tour de
France champions; Tour of Italy winners; victors in
one-classics such as Paris-Roubaix, Tour of Flanders, and
Milan-San Remo; and road and track world champions.
- New York’s Madison Square Garden held the Super Bowl of
Sixes. Audiences watching the racers tear around the board
oval at breakneck speed yelled themselves hoarse and shook the