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  • 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 building.

   
six-day bicycle race : the jazz age sport
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