On the eve of the 90th FIM International Six Days Enduro in Kosice, Slovakia,
the one phrase likely uttered the most no matter which team you talked to went something like
this: “I just want to start racing!”
Indeed, with most of the 497 entrants having been in town for a solid week of
bike prep and walking tests, it seems like anyone you ask is more than ready to get
back on his (or her) bike and twist the throttle again.
For Team USA, the week before the race has been unusually calm. It started with
the shipping containers full of bikes, tools, oils and whatnot arriving earlier than
expected, which meant they were on time. This rarely happens. Usually, a customs
snafu manages to stymie delivery of said containers to wherever it needs to go unless
certain wheels are greased (you know, import duties and other taxes paid).
With that hurdle not a factor in Kosice, Team USA’s riders and the support
personnel present quickly emptied the containers and got to work, riders assembling
their bikes while supporters set up what would become the main pit for the team.
That gave the 31 American riders plenty of time to pull their bikes from their
shipping crates, reassemble them and spin a few laps on the nearby test track to fine-
tune them to Slovak soil.
In turn, the riders also had ample time to walk the six different special tests that’ll
be employed through the first five days. Those who are really serious—especially those
on the three elite U.S. squads (World Trophy, Junior World Trophy and Women’s World
Trophy teams)—would walk each test a minimum of twice. As Junior World Trophy rider
Grant Baylor revealed, “This year we probably walked about 12 miles a day.” Much of it
was up or down hills, reflecting the nature of the tests compared to last year in
Argentina where the tests were relatively flat though very sandy.
Of course, there were a few hiccups during the week, the most serious being
World Trophy team rider Taylor Robert crashing his bike violently on the test track on
Wednesday. Though not a high-speed fall, hitting an unseen block of concrete resulted
in an immediate highside with Robert saying, “My shoulder’s really tight, my back was
really tight, but I’ve been working on them the last couple days to loosen everything up.
Honestly, I’m lucky I didn’t break anything because I broke my triple clamps, bent my
subframe, bent my bars, radiator—I really wadded the bike up!”
Then there was ISDE rookie Skyler Howes of the Boise Ridge Riders Club team
who tweaked his ankle badly while walking one of the tests. After getting taped and
gimping around for a couple days, he’s a lot better now and also anxious to get the
show on the road—or trail, as it were.
Among the activities later in the pre-race week, a delegation from Spain gave a
presentation on next year’s Six Days, which will be held in Los Arcos in the Navarra
region at the Circuito de Navarra road race track. It’s not too far from Pamplona, which
is most famous for its running of the bulls.
In an unusual but not unprecedented departure from the norm, the Spanish Six
Days (only the fourth time the country has hosted it) will run from October 11-16. Yes,
Tuesday through Sunday.
But that’s not all. The organizers are planning to accept up to 730 riders with
about 100 of those in a special “vintage” class that will run the same course as
everyone else but do it over just the final two days.
Stay tuned for another report tomorrow after the first day of competition and we’ll
see if folks feel the same way about getting on their dirt bikes.