The Berlin Six

We're not sure whether racing or attending the Berlin Six is more exhausting, but we'd like to find out

Apr 5, 2012
Outside Magazine
Introductions at the 2006 race

Introductions at the 2006 race    Photo: Nicola/Wikimedia

Imagine a three-ring circus, complete with the trapeze act, menagerie, and clowns. Then imagine a rock show in the middle of all that. Then imagine a world-class bike race taking place on a banked track surrounding the hubbub. That’s a six-day race. The format, first conceived in the 19th century, originally had athletes racing for six whole days and nights without a break. (The winner was usually the guy who could stay awake the longest.) These days, racing is limited to evening hours, and the trapeze act has disappeared, but there's still plenty of action and free-flowing booze. This is Germany, after all, the country that invented the biergarten and the stein krug. Crowds come to watch the riding, but there's often as much dancing to live music as there is spectating. Held each January and run 97 times since the first edition in 1909, the race has seen Tour de France stars and Olympians compete in recent years. Attending all six nights requires a big commitment to partying, but for those who have less than a week of drinking in them, tickets are available individually each night. January 2013,