Daniel Holloway: Surviving the Six Days of European Track Cycling

Daniel Holloway is a professional track cyclist and a 20-time U.S. National Champion. Colby and Daniel have known and raced together since 2004. These are some of their stories.

Daniel Holloway and Colby Pearce Six-Day Track Cycling

Daniel Holloway is a professional cyclist who races for Texas Roadhouse and is a 20-time U.S. National Champion, a Pan Am Games gold medalist, and a member of the U.S. National long team for the 2021 Olympics in Tokyo.

I met Daniel when he was a junior racing on the track, sometime around 2004. Years later, when I had the opportunity to race some of the European six days, I needed a partner, and Daniel ended up being the man for the job. He was one of the youngest riders in the field at our first Six Day in Dortmund, and I was one of the older riders in the peloton. I think it is quite accurate to say we really had no idea what the hell we were doing.

Together, we stumbled our way through four seasons of racing Sixes, World Cups, and World Championships together. We had wins, crashes, DNFs, lots of laughs, and one moment that was pretty close to a fistfight.

I thought having Daniel on the show would be the perfect excuse to tell some entertaining stories, and also to help my audience understand the archaic and iconic world of European Six Day racing. 

Episode Transcript

Welcome to the Cycling in Alignment podcast, an examination of cycling as a practice and dialogue about the integration of sport and right relationship to your life.

Colby Pearce 00:26
Welcome seekers of knowledge, people who quest on the internet to find out things, meet people, have conversations, you’re here once again. That means that the earth is still rotating and gravity still works, which are both good things. I don’t like to attach value to things that happen in the universe, calling them good and bad, but I’ll go ahead and do it in this case.

Colby Pearce 00:52
On today’s show, we’re going to have a very special guest, a good friend of mine, Daniel Holloway, my former six day partner. Daniel is a professional cyclist who races for Texas Roadhouse, and is now a 20 time US National Champion, a Pan Am Games gold medalist, and a member of the US National long team for the now 2021 Olympics in Tokyo. I met Daniel when he was a junior racing on the track sometime around 2004…? That’s about right, right?

Colby Pearce 01:22
Years later, when I had the opportunity to race some of the European six days I needed a partner/sidekick? But there’s a lot to tell on that story. And so Daniel ended up being the man, or at the time, kid for the job.

Colby Pearce 01:40
He was one of the youngest riders in the field at our first six day in Dortmund, Germany and I was one of the older riders in the peloton so we made quite a dynamic duo. I think it’s quite accurate also to say that we really had no idea what the hell we were doing. Together, we stumbled our way through four seasons of racing sixes, World Cups, and a couple World Championships together. We had wins. We had crashes, we had DNFs, lots of laughs and one moment that was pretty close to a straight up fistfight.

Colby Pearce 02:08
I thought having Daniel on the show would be a perfect excuse to tell some hopefully entertaining stories and also to help my audience understand the archaic and iconic world of European 6 day racing.

Colby Pearce 02:19
Welcome, Daniel.

Daniel Holloway 02:20
Thank you. Thanks for having me.

Colby Pearce 02:21
Yeah, man. Thanks for making the time today.

Daniel Holloway 02:23

How Daniel Holloway went from speed skating to cycling

Colby Pearce 02:23
Cool. So let’s dig in. Tell us your background.
Daniel Holloway 02:30
Yeah, but born in Texas, moved to California for a few years. And then just grew up speed skating, that was just kind of the family sport that my parents did and my sister did it. I was just the next one in line; as soonas I could walk I was in skates, and just became kind of a rink rat. We were there all the time and did roller skates, then kind of the next version was speed skating. It kind of opened up a little new community, faster speeds, and I think that was the first inkling of my dad, opening the door and kind of laying the foundation that this is a sport that’s in the Olympics. So if you’re good enough, and you do the work, and you put yourself there, that’s an opportunity for you – if everything lines up.

Daniel Holloway 03:13
So roller skating was never going to be in the Olympics. Ice skating is. So here’s a sport that can get you there. It’s something he never got, really the opportunity to do. And as a father you’re supposed to open doors that you never had for your kids. And so that’s what he did.

Daniel Holloway 03:30
So we went speed skating, and it was even faster than roller skating. So I was addicted. I was like, I don’t ever want to go back to the rink, I love the ice. And then it got to a point that living in California, where the ice quality is only so good, there’s only so much activity, and so a friend of ours that was using speed skating as cross training raced tracks, Susie Tignor, Mighty Mouse, she’s definitely legend of the sport, had a velodrome and she’s like, “Oh, I got a bike you guys can borrow, go try it.” So Saturday morning, had her session – and I had like 94 inches on, which for a 13 year old kid is massive – and I just enjoyed myself. My dad’s like, you’re gonna be really sore tomorrow, and I’m like “I don’t care, this is way too fun!” I just was like smashing people and it was exponentially faster than skating. And so right then I was addicted to, to just the speed alone, not necessarily the track itself, or the genre, it was just like bikes are faster than skating. I like this.

Colby Pearce 04:01
So it was the speed that really appealed to you and drew you drew you in.

Daniel Holloway 04:34
Yeah, absolutely. So that was like the beginning of the end of speed skating. You know, I did speed skate for another four or five years in the winter to then cross train for cycling. It was a really easy transition for me to do and being a soft Californian, if it was like it was raining I was like, “Oh, I’m not riding, let’s go skating.”

Daniel Holloway 04:54
So did that and then I had a really bad crash when I was 18 while skating. Really jacked up my back and that was kind of the last time they really skated fast, or like for practice or training or anything like that. And it was full time bikes from there. And then it just took off.

Colby Pearce 05:14
So really, you got your start in a sport just through a family friend that just said, “Hey, come out and try this.” And you agreed and –

Daniel Holloway 05:20

Colby Pearce 05:21
Cool, that’s cool.

Daniel Holloway 05:22
Yeah, so easy transition. And happened to be another – I think, only in hindsight, we know it was like an Olympic pitcher, right? It wasn’t like, my dad beating it down my throat that like, “You’re going to go to the Olympics because I’m doing all this for you.” It was just like, it’s an open door that if you choose to travel through, it’s your choice. But he worked his ass off and provided endless opportunities for me to succeed in sport and one was speed skating, and then that transitioned into cycling. He just laid such a strong foundation for me to just build my, you know, career off of Hmm.

Colby Pearce 06:00
So you started racing more and more and one of your first big teams was Garmin-Chipotle as a young rider, right?

Daniel Holloway 06:05
Yeah, it was originally called VMG, it was like the second year of it. When I was 19. I went to Tulsa Tough with Dave McCook, he was kind of my local mentor. You know, growing up on the track, we have the same coach for Abraham, for track racing, and so Dave really took me under his wing just from like a bike racing standpoint, like this is biker racing 101, just tips and tricks on how to get out of this hole, how to create that gap – all these different things that are so hands on that if you don’t get you never learn. So, super thankful for that.

Daniel Holloway 06:45
As I got older, we traveled a little more races, and he’s like, dude, there’s this race in Tulsa that’s got a ton of money. It’s amateur only. Let’s go. He organized everything, set up to host housing, and we went and just like, had a ton of fun, and I end up winning the overall,then I got a second, third and a fourth.

Daniel Holloway 07:06
And by happenstance, I didn’t know but Chan McCray, was there at the time with his wife, and Chan was going to be in charge of the new VMP/national team/ future Garmin under development team. And so good performance on the right day in front of the right people, opened a door and laid the path that became the Garmin relationship. Yeah.

Daniel Holloway 07:33
And so Chan saw you race and was impressed with the results there – was that kind of your first sort of NRC level race? Or I don’t know if Tulsa was NRC back then or if NRC was a thing or –

Daniel Holloway 07:41
Yeah, I mean, it was more or less my my first big out of California, out of the region race. So when I showed up I didn’t know who I was racing against. Kirk Albert’s is there and Carl Bordain and all the hitters of the cat one field of North America were pretty much there. And I was a relatively unknown 19 year old kicking around on the podium and ended up winning the overall. So it worked out well.

Colby Pearce 08:12
That’s cool. And just in case people aren’t familiar, Tulsa Toughs, a four day series in Oklahoma, that’s-

Daniel Holloway 08:17
It’s three days

Colby Pearce 08:18
Oh three days,

Daniel Holloway 08:18
Friday, Saturday, Sunday,

Colby Pearce 08:19
One of the ones I’ve never done, obviously. I’ve never made it to Tulsa. And it was kind of infamous for having huge prize lists back then until it’s sort of – there were a couple years where the amateurs had the run of the field until the pros started figuring it out, right?

Daniel Holloway 08:31
Yeah, I mean, it was cat one or cat two amateur only for a couple years and then they opened the doors for everybody and that was the year 2008 I think, or 2009 when Toyota United was the first to show up. And they laid the smack down and on the first night. It was five of their six man team and me and we lapped the field. The whole time I was just praying like “guys, just please ignore me. I won’t get in the way, I won’t do anything, I just need to hang on.” And I was you know, chin to stim for 60 minutes riding behind Black Grove and Hilton Clark and Johnson and whoever that squad was, it was just like, “Oh, this is starting to get big time.”

Colby Pearce 08:31
Yeah, yeah, yeah. I had a moment like that years and years ago at the Colorado State Road championships. I end up in a breakaway, this was when it was like, go straight for 30 miles, take a right turn, go straight for 30 miles, hit the cone and it was way out east like halfway to Kansas so just howling brutal winds so the field shatters in like 800 meters on the line. And I end up in the lead group which is myself and three Coors Light riders, I think it was Engelmann, Kiefel, and Scott Monitor. So for the next 118 miles just going “Guys, please don’t leave me out here, I will literally get eaten by coyotes.” Cuz there’s just no one behind you for – the field’s just totally nuked. And hey graciously let me go to the line and Scott even didn’t care and let me get a bronze so I was like – Anyway, it’s funny, but similar.

Daniel Holloway 10:11
Yeah, yeah, similar type deal and so from there my career kind of you know took off. I mean the year before I rode for Lombardi Sports like as a 19 year old and went to Super week, went to – that year was Tulsa and did a couple of things where guys were like “you’ve got to go get exposure.” The elite guys on Lombardi Sports were like “you just got to go get experience and see what these races are like.” I just remember being at Super Week when it was Super Week and 100 k crits and banging bars with Huff, Friedman, Jackson Stewart, like these guys that were just absolute hitters, and they go like, “Oh, this is where we’re gonna go make some money” because they had a spot in their schedule. And I just remember a couple crits where I was just like, good enough to start getting in the way with like, eight to go, seven to go, and Huff just losing his mind – and he new me from the track was all like, “just get out of here, just get behind me.” And I wasl like, “Uh, okay.” Learning from Dave and some other guys was like, “If you’re good enough to be in the fight, but if you’re just banging a bars, you’re not learning anything.” So my mindset was like, okay, Huff acknowledges me, he’s aware. He says, go behind me. So if I’m just following, I was like, what’s huff doing? Huffs winning these things, so I can’t watch what he’s doing if I’m riding beside him, fighting for my life, but if I can tuck in the draft and go, okay, what’s he doing here? What’s he doing there? And learn from the choices he’s making and all that stuff…really, that was my mindset when I first hit that level by myself, was like, just follow, like, all you can do is learn from here, right? Like opportunities will present themselves and you’ll have that good day when, you get eighth and you’re like, “Oh, fuck, I could have gotten fourth”

Colby Pearce 12:05
But I made this one little error or –

Daniel Holloway 12:07
And it’s not even the errors it’s like I was too far back, right? Everybody’s like, I would’ve won, but I was 10th. And you’re like, “Well, it’s because you never spent –

Colby Pearce 12:14
Welcome to bike racing-

Daniel Holloway 12:15
12 months following the guys winning to get the nuances, right? All you’re doing is fighting, fighting, fighting, and then you end up being too tired and getting whatever result you get instead of winning. So my mindset was just learn, learn, learn. And when the legs do click, it’s like, I’ve got all the tools in the toolbox to make it easy. So I was very fortunate that I was able to learn from these guys and these races really quick, and put it to use relatively quickly after after those experiences.

Daniel Holloway 12:45
So, that year, I went to like, crit NASS, Downers Grove, and all that stuff, and just got it absolutely handed to me. But it was a learning experience and the next year I won.So it was a short time period, but it was all focused on learning and not necessarily winning because I had a long term vision of wanting to be in a sport. It wasn’t like, I’m just gonna make a wave and see how long it lasts. It’s like, no, this is my career. I want this for 10, 12 years, so you’ve got to learn before you can win.

Knowledge above horsepower and learning from others
Daniel Holloway 13:16
So that’s what carried me so long, I think versus I feel like a new generation that just has ultimate horsepower, but no skill set, no knowledge, and they get themselves into situations and then they get fourth. And then they get third and then they get fourth. And it’s like, they’re only a millimeter away from winning over and over and over again, they don’t know

Colby Pearce 13:36
They’re just do more intervals and training harder because they think they need to be stronger. Why force trauma?

Daniel Holloway 13:41
Yeah. And it always becomes that thing where the young one becomes stronger than the trainer and it’s just like, “Oh, well, I’m stronger than you so I don’t need to listen to you.” And inevitably, in cycling, that’s such a fast transitions, like I can climb faster, “Okay, well, I know how to survive. So what does it matter if you go up this thing four minutes faster than me? It doesn’t because that doesn’t win races. That makes fast times up hills, but it doesn’t get you results at the end of the day.” For North American Racing and a lot of that transitional European racing, surviving is the ultimate key to success.

Colby Pearce 14:22
A little Belgium races, little Dutch races, old French races, yeah,

Daniel Holloway 14:26
In your first couple years in Europe, if you can’t survive, you’ll never make it to the next level. You just have to survive. So if you go with that survival toolbox to Europe it’ll click, it’ll happen for you so much better than becoming the ultimate fitness God. And going over there with no survival box. Like you’re dead. It’s just not going to happen for you. And so you see a lot of guys get chewed up and spit out pretty fast.

Colby Pearce 14:54
Yeah, I had a parallel lesson. I think in ’01 I went to Super Week – So just to paint the picture like Toad, which is the Tour of America’s Dairyland, now is a series of crits in Wisconsin, they go like one per city. And I think they’re about an hour, hour and change for most the pro races now, right? They’re a lot more-

Daniel Holloway 15:12
They’re a lot shorter than they used to.

Colby Pearce 15:13
Yeah, they used to be 100 K, pretty much every race was 100 k. And so it’s really more like a crummy style, race. And some circuits were quite big. Some of them have pretty big hills in them. And it was fun racing. And then, you know, it was always in July. So basically, the European riders who didn’t make the tour team would come over and just slaughter people – come to meet pretty American girls and eat barbecue and smash 100k crits. And so the fields were – I remember the fields being 150-170 riders, single file, strung out.

Colby Pearce 15:41
The first year I went as a junior, I watched a couple 1/2 races, and my job was just on the ground the entire time was like, “I can’t believe how fast these guys are going.” Then, at the end of that, Super Week, I realized that no one would know the difference if I just started one of them, because I had already paid an entry fee for the last day. So instead of starting the junior race, I just showed up the 1/2s. And I was the guy at the back of like, literally Caboose just chin to stem the entire race. And that was my first door opening like the only way I’m going to survive this is if I go through every corner three miles an hour faster than everyone else, I do not have the horsepower and I barely pulled it off like cross the line just shattered.

Colby Pearce 16:19
Then fast forward ’01 and I’m on Shaklee or excuse me, I’m riding for Prime Alliance and we rode for Jonas Carney the entire series, he had the overall locked out for the last day, which is always Whitefish Bay, right? And so he had the overall locked up, like mathematically no one could beat him. So he’s like, “Colby, you’ve been working really hard all week. You feel fresh?” I was like, Yeah, he’s like, “let’s see what happens. Maybe you’ll have a chance to win today.” Okay, yeah, he’s like I want to pay back, you’ve been working for me all week, or for three weeks basically. And so we’re doing our thing and I get the break and we lock the field I think it’s like seven or eight min break I don’t remember. And then we get back in the peloton and I come to Jonas he’s like how you doing? I’m like no, I’m good. I’m good. But you know there’s some guys in this group that made the lap with me I need to do something I gotta get away from gonna get beat he was like “just relax. Follow me.” And I didn’t realize, you don’t know what you don’t know, but I didn’t know at that point how much energy I used trying to do exactly what you were just describing, which is like bang bars, fight, always be in some position that I thought I needed to be in. And I followed Jonas’s wheel and for a lap, I was just like, blown away. I was like, I can’t believe how easy this is. Yeah, he just floats around the course always literally finding the path of least resistance like he’s literally riding on the principle of minimum effective dose. He just fills holes moves up whenever he can. And somehow he’s always like 12th wheel. Like 12 to 18 we’ll just like doing this little effortless washing machine cycle. So just far enough bike we can see everything that’s happening see who’s attacking, see who’s responding, react if he needs to, but most of the time he just watches, watches, watches, and he ended up leading me out and I won the field sprint which is like I mean, come on!

Colby Pearce 18:06
Now this was the last day of the race and to be fair, the field sprint wasn’t as heavily contested because most guys were pretty tired and the guys in the break were the ones doing it but

Daniel Holloway 18:13
don’t take it away from yourself

Colby Pearce 18:14
I’m just being straight up. But two guys from the break did get away, so I ended up getting third i think if i remember or fourth or something like that, so anyway, it was like it was a big learning experience for me to follow Jonas’s wheel and realize what a universe that was because I’m always mister like my whole job for that team was you know weld things together chase down brakes be reactive. Try to get in the brek. See if it’s gonna work, screw it up if it’s not or chase things down, etc. That was just not my mindset. I’d never been in that conservation oriented. Like I’m the fastest guy in the pelt- that’s basically Jonas road. Most of the time he’s like I’m just the fastest guy in this peloton. So if you guys don’t get away from me, when we get to the line you’re dead meat. And you just went into every race that way. And he wasn’t always right. But he definitely won a lot of races that tactic and if the breakout away, the breakout away and he’s like I’ll just try it again tomorrow. So it’s a total flip flop from my like, I’m not a sprinter. I have to win by being a tough guy and blunt force trauma kind of mindset.

Daniel Holloway 19:13
We had a guy on Texas Roadhouse a couple years ago and in Rock Hill, they made a bike course that we raced on. It had some elevation gain, it was never really straight, just always moving, and then one climb had a U turn –

Colby Pearce 19:33
Lika all those bike courses tend to be – never straight, kind of amoeba shaped corners…

Daniel Holloway 19:40
So I was active in the beginning and then I needed to go take a take a break so started floating back. And my teammate was killing himself to ride 60th; I just watched him for a couple laps, and I was like, “This is awful to watch.” I’m just seeing him struggle and struggle and struggle. He’s outworking anybody in the field, but not going anywhere. So, I went up to him and said “Hey, dude, just follow me. Just stay on my wheel. We’re gonna move up. Just watch the lines I’m riding” and all that stuff. After the race, we looked at his file and you could see the moment in time when I picked him up. His heart rate dropped like 12 beats, his power just totally smoothed out, so many less big spikes and coasts…

Daniel Holloway 20:28
He’s just like, “Dude, my life is changed. I didn’t know that that’s how to do it.” It was a lot of fun working with him because he would go back to caveman, and just go really strong really hard and when he had to go survival mode, he remembered what I showed him and he could see that. But it wasn’t like: this is default, default is survival. And it’s not a negative! To be in survival mode is not a negative whatsoever.

Daniel Holloway 20:57
So, that was like one of the big instances- with all the tools we have now, it’s like, “okay, here’s this moment in time that your heart rate immediately dropped.” We moved up and you were able to be productive into the end of this race, even considering all the damage you did to yourself for no good reason. I just don’t think a lot of guys are taking the time to learn that stuff and follow. They’re thinking like that one result is going to change their whole career, their whole year versus “if I just learned some things then the rest of the time I do this it’s gonna be so much more enjoyable.”

Colby Pearce 21:40
And I gotta say that’s a matter of perspective. For some reason, guys who are in that mindset tend to race, or sometimes women, race that way in every race they enter, but the reality is – let’s take a step back here. You’re talking about the Lewisville criterium; cool race, local bike race, whatever, good turnout, but if you win this race solo, you’re not going to get a contract with anyone. Now if it’s national championships, maybe a different story, but not even necessarily in the US.

Daniel Holloway 22:15
It’s a shifting dynamic in the US peloton, in the US racing scene. It’s gonna be interesting to see where it ends up in the next five years, really, and what carries weight and what doesn’t. As far racing, the level of racing, the types that exist. Rallies, slowly transitioning out of the US and into Europe as far as with their presence. Then after them there’s jelly bellies now and you 23 development program and Danny’s getting those guys experienced in Asia and Mexico, South America.

Colby Pearce 22:48
They’re sponsored by Wildlife Reservation or something – it has wildlife in it.

Daniel Holloway 22:55
Yeah. So the state of the domestic peloton nowhere what it was five years ago, let alone 10 years ago, that you can really gauge talent, depth, skill, etc. to say like, “Oh, yeah, you had a really good six months in North America by doing XDemas than Redlands….,” these staples of-

Colby Pearce 23:20
Halos, Redlands, Boasts, Cascade – have those races are gone now?

Daniel Holloway 23:25
Yeah. And even if they did exist, the field is way different that even if you go when Halos it doesn’t carry the same weight as it did 10 years ago. So there’s that still mixed attitude that you have those coaches that are coaching guys that say “Halos a big deal, you got to go win it.” For them, and their generation it did, but it doesn’t anymore. So the new guys are getting mixed information without the old guard learning the new rules of what’s important to be on teams.

<Holloway’s battle with the United Healthcare racing team
Colby Pearce 23:58
Well, I don’t want to skip ahead, but that’s actually a perfect segue into the world of six days. I mean, I think that there literally there is no more old school kind of institution than a proper six day and dare I say you and I got in at the last possible moment, after decades of this style of – everything about it, not just the actual race event, but like the swanies, the mechanics, how the system worked, how you climb the ladder, how you got your ass kicked at times if you did the wrong thing, all those. So I’d like to unpack that, for sure.

Colby Pearce 24:30
But before we get there, I would like you to just paint the picture a little bit if you could, before we go to Europe, stay in the US, you know, normal order, tell us just a bit about how you had to really battle United Healthcare when they were dominant and you raced – there was like two seasons, at least where you were just pretty much solo warrior against those guys, right?

Daniel Holloway 24:48
In 2014 and 15 I had gone through my domestic pro teams trying to make pro tour journey and 2012 came back from the UK like super depressed, no contract in hand, kind of lost in the world.

Colby Pearce 25:07
Can you tell us the team you rode for in the UK that year?

Daniel Holloway 25:09
That was Rolly; good experience, a lot of that jump was – the conversations we had was that there was going to be European opportunities and this was the roster and this is where we see you fitting in, it was just like, I’m ready for this transition. This is the door that I needed and I’m gonna go work and prove these things. You just started off well went to Mexico, won a stage at Volta Mexico, which was really good and then once we got back to the UK, it was like, Oh, yeah, we’re not going to Belgium, we’re going to France, we’re just doing the UK stuff. And it was like a bit of a kick in the dick becuase it’s not what I came here for. Then all of a sudden the inner team politics and six man rosters, 10 man team, living in a house with other guys that train different ways, that weren’t getting restarts, then started like sending messages up the gossip ladder of “doesn’t ride his bike, doesn’t do the same interval, we drop them on climbs” and it’s like, what does it have to do with anything about being successful on race day? It does correlate, you have to go put in the work, but just because you go for client faster than another guy doesn’t mean it can’t be productive on Sunday.

Daniel Holloway 26:22
So I started to have that bottle of fight, and just didn’t have the energy for it. So I started not racing, and then had just a bunch of BS and left really depressed. Mikes Bikes gave me a killer opportunity to say come out, have fun, mentor some guys, you know, it’s all on you how you want to take this but the doors open. Ended up having a kick ass season riding really well, getting some really good results.

Colby Pearce 26:49
This is 2014 you said?

Daniel Holloway 26:50
2013. That got the attention of Chad Hartley who was running a time with sharecare which turned into athlete octane for 14 years, like, “Hey, dude, the gig we’re racing crits, we’re making money. And we’re in charge.” You know, the guy who’s sponsoring us doesn’t have anything, doesn’t want to see us at any particular races. He just wants us flying the flag having fun getting results. So let’s go do it. There’s some seeker races that have good money, not strong fields, and at that time, part of the job was making money. You can’t can’t eat without money. So that was the mentality: we’re gonna go to the big races, but we’re also going to go like to some smaller hidden gems and make money.

Daniel Holloway 27:40
During that reign UnitedHealthcare was on like a killer win streak. They were undefeated for like two and a half seasons up to that point. So, Chad gave me some info: this is how they’ve been riding and I went into that, watching from afar because I was in the UK at that time, the next year was fully amateur in California and you just see all the results and videos like these guys are kicking ass. I haven’t raced at that level in two years. I don’t know how I’d fit in. Is it possible? These guys look to be unbeatable.

Colby Pearce 28:13
Well they weren’t just winning, they were stuacking up like one through four, six out of the top 10. And they could almost pick who won on what day.

Daniel Holloway 28:19
Right. So they had a system that they figured out worked for him –

Daniel Holloway 28:28
Yeah, they definitely had the depth, no doubt to run the gamitt however, they wanted to do it. And I think the first encounter with those guys was Speed Week that year. And we did Charlotte and I was off the front in a breakaway with Deon Smith and Sergio Nando’s and a couple really strong guys, and it was getting down to like, the end eight laps to go, and the breaks are looking at each other and I’m like, I’m going to hit out and just ride. And my gap stayed the same, kept going. I was like, oh man like this is getting close to the end of the gap has not come down. And they ended up catching me with like a lap to go, something like that. But it gave me the confidence to be like, Oh, this isn’t a crazy level. Yeah, they chased me down, it was six guys plus whatever help they may or may not have had, but like, I’m in the ballpark here. Then we went to Belmont the next day and I think I poddeumed that race. I was like, Oh man, it’s not that bad.

Colby Pearce 28:28
And the strength.

Daniel Holloway 29:32
Now I can really start looking at how you pick it apart? Like what game are they playing? And what rules do I need to develop for myself to win? And so with Chad and the rest of the guys athlete octane, it was more or less kind of the reverse lead out. Put me in front of our train on the back of UHC and then create a line or a bubble around me so I didn’t have to fight. Because you could watch time and time again where it was Jake Key on the back who can handle his bike insane and 10 different dudes fighting for his wheel. So anybody in front of him was just like gravy training, nose breathing, no problems, no fighting, no anything and they could ride 45 K an hour and all of a sudden the peloton mindset was “we have to stay behind it because there’s six guys the same color riding in a line.” I was like, yeah you can’t just go dive bomb in the middle of it. But you can attack it, you can get four or five guys go around it, you know, but somehow the idea shift is we have to stay behind the lead out. And so they learned to ride the minimum speed required to not get messed with and then you had 20 guys fighting for one wheel getting tired,

Colby Pearce 30:44
Angry hornet’s nest behind them

Daniel Holloway 30:45
Yeah, yeah. And then all sudden, when hedge, Varian, brown, white decided to go Okay, it’s go time and take it up to 60 k an hour. Every dude was tired. It was luck of the draw when they hit the gas and you were on the wheel that’s how it shuffled out. There was no coming back from that big of an acceleration with that short of time left in the race. And so we looked at as like, okay, that’s, that’s what they’re going to do. So our plan is give you the same ride that they’re giving their guys. And so I had four defenders basically two on each side, that I would stick on that UHC train, and I had, you know, bodyguards just wailing on people so I didn’t have to fight so I didn’t have to do that work. As soon as we got that rhythm as soon as we, you know, figure that out, I started being successful, the team started being successful as being the team, beating UHC, really challenging them making them race to the line, not podium sweeping, all these things. And that just kind of rolled over into into 15.

Daniel Holloway 30:49
It’s funny, talking about that year with Adrian because then we were like, not enemies, but we were racing against each other on opposite teams.

Colby Pearce 31:54
Now you’re madison partners

Daniel Holloway 31:55
Now we’re Madison partners, and it’s like, “Hey, man, what was your recount? What were you guys thinking this year?” And he’s got all these you know, laundry list of excuses of why they weren’t riding well. And it’s like, oh, well, it’s only because this this and this, that that you could do that. I was like, come on, bro. No, you can’t do that. I saw firsthand what happened. Right? So it’s interesting now to come full circle with him and relive some of those races, racing against each other and stuff like that, which is great fun.

Daniel Holloway 32:29
I mean, that was good, I never stopped learning. That team was led by Hilton Clark, who is arguably one of the best North American tacticians to have done it, he’s a crit master. So they had their strategy at work, but as soon as I came into the fold, they had to develop new strategies, new tactics, maybe give up a podium run and protect the win. So they were happy with first and third, fifth, seventh, ninth because not many other guys could get around him. But protecting the win was key; they’re adapting while I’m adapting and so that was really good fun to know that you’re going to go to a race and it would be a thinking man’s game. How do you really exploit their program against them? How can you get them to break their own rules to favor you? And it was really difficult; they were an iron clad ship, they were really hard to sink. Which you kind of have to take a step back and look at it and just give them so much respect for that, no matter what was thrown at them they… were never emotional, the guys were so professional in what they did as job. In the moment, you could say “those guys are a bunch of dicks. They’re a bunch of assholes, what’s wrong with them?” And it’s like, no, no. It’s six dudes getting paid to do a job to represent this thing, right? They’re just doing their job. Unpronounced us, they’re a brotherhood. Those are six guys that will die for each other, that enjoy hanging out with each other, that love going to get dinner, you know, they have formed a group that they don’t need anybody else involved with. They don’t care about you from Michigan, about a good job. It’s not that they are snubbing you, it’s like that good job they want to go talk to their teammates. I’ve been there, I’ve been part of that group and I’ve been on the outside and looking back that’s what they were doing and that’s 100% fine. In hindsight that was their mentality.

Daniel Holloway 34:38
In races it’s like Jake rode you hard, Hilton road you hard when he was fit, but guys like Hedge, Brad, Carl Menzies, they were never overly aggressive. They had to go 1% further than you to prove the point, keep things in control of the job at hand and so many guys took that as such a negative because they’ve never been to that point. They were strictly amateurs, right? And they’re just so frustrated that they had this group of guys that were so dialed and skilled to do whatever they wanted and because they wouldn’t give you a high five after the race, then all of a sudden, it’s like, “They’re bullies, They’re assholes.” It’s like, nah man, you’ll just never get it, unfortunately because those teams don’t exist for you to be a part of, or you’re not good enough to get on a team that exists to be a part of. It’s not a dig at you, that’s just the way it is, that’s sport, you’re just simply not good enough. And nobody’s trying to belittle you for not being good enough, it’s just the way this competition is shaped.

Colby Pearce 35:48
Well said, that is interesting. It definitely makes me think of some of my early lessons in track racing and the guys who I kind of thought were dicks, but – Well, that’s a different story. We’ll unpack that in the six day section.

Colby Pearce 36:01
Climbed the ladder

How Holloway and Pearce climbed the ladder to six-day racing
Daniel Holloway 36:01
I mean, that transitions into the six days of us being strong enough to be there, but no knowledge to get played with, exploited, used and as soon as we picked up the knowledge, we began getting treated differently because they’re like, “oh, they’re picking up on the game. Oh, they are they’re knowing the rules.” They’re playing by the rules and now they’re being successful, therefore we can’t be mad. We can be annoyed, but we can’t be mad. So we went through that same transition as two honks going to Europe racing this unknown format to us. So that’s just what a lot of guys in the crit scene do. We did that. We went back to the bottom floor and worked our way up to be back in the lead group-

Daniel Holloway 36:02
-After a few years of, yeah, we may not be the strongest guys, but we know the rules, we know how to play the game, and when everything goes right, we can be a contender.

Colby Pearce 36:58
There’s a chance for success.

Daniel Holloway 36:59
Yeah, and I think some of the old hat guys, like Bruno Reese, enjoyed watching our transformation because a) we were never a threat to him and what he was doing –

Colby Pearce 37:03
Bruno Reese the flying mullet.

Daniel Holloway 37:15
But he was also a low key, light mentor, right? He was definitely a guiding hand for us to say, either wave the finger or nod in appreciation. I think that really helped us through that transition, and you really laid the foundation for that simply by your track record. No pun intended, racing the track. You know, with your Olympics and attendance and world performance and all that stuff, you were a known entity-

Colby Pearce 37:47
To a degree, but when I first did Copenhagen, the first year I had an opportunity to race Copenhagen was through Wen Johnson, who was a promoter in Europe and he was connected with Dale Hughes, who’s an American who builds velodromes, right? He built the velodrome in Michigan, built several others like the one in Texas in Frisco and other veleodrones throughout the world. So, I’ve known Dale for years on and off through, I don’t know, just track I suppose. And at one point he, I don’t remember if he emailed me or called me or what, but he said, I’ve got some opportunities – I probably reach out to him, but in any case – managed to go race Copenhagen, with an Italian rider, Angelo Ciccone and that was my first intro into the world of six days.

Colby Pearce 38:36
Gary Beckett was my swanear, he’s an English chap. And Gary would say, you know, it doesn’t really matter if you’ve got these results at the world level, it doesn’t matter if you’ve won World Cups, or won medals at Worlds, it doesn’t mean you’re going to fit in automatically into the 6 day worlds. It’s a different universe, there are different rules here, there’s a hierarchy, and you’ve got to respect that hierarchy. And if you refuse to, then you’re going to get the beat down. He would tell me stories all the time about how Chris Newton went over – and Chris is one of the most successful British World Cup racers of his era by a good margin, won the World Cup points race overall couple times and has a couple world titles to his name and several medals – and he went to the sixes and just fit in like a square peg in a round hole. Apparently the guys would flick them on the thighs and smack them and stuff during races because he kept doing, I don’t know what exactly, that wasn’t gelling with them. I don’t know if he just was doing things at the wrong moment or refused to recognize the rules, but…

The rules of six-day races
Colby Pearce 39:36
To paint the picture, six-days are sort of a blend of sporting performance, but they’re also a performance for a crowd. So there’s kind of a Cirque du Soleil almost element to it, right?

Daniel Holloway 39:50

Colby Pearce 39:50
And that makes it quite unique. Whereas a normal race a criterium, a road race it’s just guys, gals out there racing, women racing, as hard as they can first rider across the line wins and the performance is in whatever that outcome is.

Daniel Holloway 40:03
And there’s still rules, right? They are still rules that people abide by them and they don’t know that they’re abiding by them. So it’s funny when you hear non-experienced people go “Six days are this, six days are that” and you’re just like, what do you think you do on a weekend, bro? It’s the same thing, you just don’t realize who’s the boss. It’s a big enough field that you don’t realize who’s calling the shots. You are just a fish in this school and you don’t realize that there’s somebody actually leading this thing. A chef, that is the chief at the six days. And so it’s a much smaller thing to watch and if you have some experience, it can be easy to see how a six-day operates. But when there’s 120 guys out there and there’s eight teams, there’s a rhythm to it. If all eight teams are represented in a break, the race stops and if you play along with that then you’re abiding by the rules. It’s fixed. It’s a fixed situation. And you sit there and you take it, if you’re not on one of those eight teams. The same way in a six day that there’s rules and you play by them and you try to understand them and you learn to break them.

Colby Pearce 40:06
They’re just more explicitly explained. Or maybe they were for us from Gary, or from Yorg or from Eli.

Daniel Holloway 41:20
Yeah, it’s not that these guys didn’t want to see us succeed, they rode it in a very kindergarten way so we could understand them, so we could have fun and eventually be successful with it. They’ve probably seen numbers of people come in and didn’t listen, didn’t understand and you’re just protecting his investment, right? He’s like, those are two guys will pay me eight times a year to do a job. Gary’s like, those guys will pay me eight times a year to do a job. I’m going to protect that because that’s known income. So of course, I’m going to educate these guys, so I can get my income for the year. So I think that’s mildly kind of how they looked at it.

Daniel Holloway 42:04
Also, like, they wanted to see an American pair there. It had been a long time since an American pair showed up – I think we had a lot of things working in our favor. And kind of your personality led to our success of like, “Dude, these are the rules. Don’t mess it up.” And I was young enough to be like, “Okay, that’s fine with me.”

Daniel Holloway 42:27
When I started bike racing, six days is what I wanted to do. Fareed introduced that thought, that environment to me, he planted that seed. And I was like, that’s what I want to do. It wasn’t go chase the tour, it wasn’t gonna chase Europe, be on the road, it was like I want to go to Giant, I want to go do these pro six days, that’s what I care about. And so to be there, it was like, “Oh, my God, this is the a dream come true. If I do those things I’ll get kicked out? Okay, I won’t do those things because I won’t be here.” This is what I worked to become a professional at. So that worked to our favor.

Daniel Holloway 42:59
Then we kind of kept our blinders on so long and so tight it started to hurt us. And then we started getting thumped in the ear, “Guys wake up. You can do more. You now understand the game, start playing it.” That was like, “Really? We’re not going to get harassed? We can do this?” We started putting our feet forward and becoming successful and seeing that we had the respect of the peloton that if we did things the right way, at the right times, we got benefit for it, we got rewarded for it.

Six Days of Copenhagen and knowing to break the rules
Daniel Holloway 43:16
So it definitely, bit us in the ass in Copenhagen, the one year. We were like, “Okay, this is the hierarchy. These are the rules. This is what we’ve been told. This is the game we’re playing, and we have to abide by it.” Come to find out that we shouldn’t have that one day and that one instance and, –

Colby Pearce 43:57
You’re talking about the handicap.

Daniel Holloway 43:58
Yeah, the handicap race where-

Colby Pearce 44:00
So we got I don’t know how to paint a picture for this.

Daniel Holloway 44:02
It’s probably one of the most infamous races in track, racing 100K on the fifth night.

Colby Pearce 44:10
Everybody’s super tired.

Daniel Holloway 44:11
It’s like one of the last six days of the season, we were at the end of this era of 10 or 12, six days a winter, that were back to back to back to back. So everybody’s kind of on their last leg at Copenhagen.

Daniel Holloway 44:23
So, night five, they basically flipped the GC upside down and last team gets zero laps. and the team’s at the top of class spinner are eight laps back and they have 100 K to get those back, right? Copenhagen is kind of one of those races that if you’re not the top of the classment, when you start thinking about night five handicap of maybe we do lose a couple of laps up here or there to place ourselves for night five for good handicap.

Daniel Holloway 44:51
We weren’t thinking that way. We had no idea what we were doing. But come night five, we were in a really good place to be successful and it was one of those nights where both of our legs were on fire, just doing whatever we wanted to do and we were making good decisions all night and we got to the finale just – and I don’t know if you remember I went up to you and I was like, “dude, I will smoke anybody, I’m gonna win this thing.” And you’re like, “hell yeah, let’s do it.”

Daniel Holloway 45:18
And so not shortly after a Dutchman of a known name went up to you and said, “Hey, we win.” You then pass that information to me and I was fuming. I was so angry.

Colby Pearce 45:32
Both of us were. I looked at you like, he actually told me that they’re going to win. I didnt want to say it to you, but I knew I had to.

Daniel Holloway 45:41
Yeah, we were fuming. They won, we got second, and-

Colby Pearce 45:49
We just rolled across the line. It was just like, “Ugh.”

Daniel Holloway 45:54
It was kind of disappointing. Come to find out, we spoke with the chief and said, “Hey, I thought this race was wide open, no rules.” And he’s like, “Oh, yeah it is. You should have given them the middle finger.” I was just, like –

Colby Pearce 46:07
Know when to break the rules. Yeah.

Daniel Holloway 46:10
That was a big lesson moving forward, especially for me racing six days with new partners, without you, when to play by the rules and when to kind of wave the middle finger and say, we’re doing this. Hopefully, when you make that decision, you have the legs to back it up because you’ll get respect for it. Right? They may not like it, but if you have the legs to back it up you can break the rules in certain occasions. So, it made my second part of my six day career a lot more successful with the partners I had, by learning that one.

Colby Pearce 46:45
That’s good. It was a painful lesson, but I’m glad you’re able to take it forward.

Colby Pearce 46:50
Now, I do have, luckily, the handicap under my belt on the resume. That’s pretty cool. I think I’m the only American to have won the Copenhagen handicap, so – I’m sure Jamie Carney will get wind of this and start fact checking both of us. But as of now, I think I’m the only one which is pretty rad to think about in the totality of my career, and you know, all things US athlete cycling.

Colby Pearce 47:19
It’s a really cool thing to tuck in your pocket because it means something to you and I and it means something to anyone who watches the six dayers and are familiar with that world. But you could be at the biggest criterium in the US the announcer could say, “And Daniel hallway won the 100K handicap on the fifth night of Copenhagen this year” and 99% of riders would be like, “What the hell’s that?” They don’t even know what a six day is.

Daniel Holloway 47:42
But then Frankie Andrew comes to you and like, yeah, the handshake is like, that’s impressive. I’ve learned to remember my peer group and it’s not to belittle anybody, but to remember my level is, pretty high, my results are pretty high, and remember where I’m getting compliments from and not, you know?

Daniel Holloway 48:01
It’s like that one year after 2014 when I was 20 some odd races, Gordon Frazier sends me message like “Dude, that is super impressive. Really proud of you. That was fun to watch.”

Daniel Holloway 48:12
There’s 100 people that sent me that same message, “Cool, thanks. Like, you’re just being nice to be nice or whatever.” But when like Gordan Frazier says, “Dude, good job,” he knows what it takes. He’s been there. He’s been the guy that everybody wants to beat on a race day. And to come out on top again, the work it takes. When you’re in that position, the physical work is done, right? It’s the mental work that has to stay on and check, in focus to continue to be successful. Because you’re physically at the level. There’s small undulations, but to keep your head on straight, to continue to be successful is the hardest work.

Colby Pearce 48:12
That’s a great example.

Colby Pearce 48:48
Stay focused.

Daniel Holloway 48:49
So when somebody that’s gone through it can give you that compliment, that’s what’s near and dear.

Daniel Holloway 48:54
When we went to the six days and working with Eli and he’s like, “Dude, you got 5th in this Belgian race, that’s so impressive.” And I’m just like, “How did you know that?” And, it’s like, oh, that’s a big race? As an American going over, you’re just getting thrown into races with numbers on your back,, you have no idea what the importance is, you’re trying to survive – And so when this guy who’s rubbed Eddie Mercs and Eric Zobelle, and just every legend of the sport, is giving me praise, it’s like, oh, man, okay, I’ve done things right. So it’s having that result, to have a coffee with him in the future, or Ed or some of these guys, this peer group that I desired to be in, when they recognize the result that’s why it’s important to me not because Chad Andrews is telling Athens, you know, a bunch of drunk people at Athens that have won it, of course it carries no weight here.It doesn’t mean it doesn’t carry weight, just not in this microcosm.

Defining the six day race format
Colby Pearce 49:53
Okay, so, very good points. Now, we’ve got to rewind a bit though because I do not want to assume that our audience has any idea of what the hell we’re talking about. So I need you to define a little bit about a six day format. What’s a chase? How does the team format work?

Colby Pearce 50:09
So normally six days are raced on 200 meter tracks. I think for a six day they put 16 teams on the track?

Colby Pearce 50:16
188 to 192 meters depending on who you spoke to?

Daniel Holloway 50:25
So there’s 32 guys on the track… At a six day most everybody is paired up with like colored jerseys. It’s not nations, it’s like some sort of sponsored-

Colby Pearce 50:34
Although there’s sometimes a loose nation correlation, right?

Daniel Holloway 50:38
So it’s a lap based six day format, like six days of racing it’s all based on laps – and there’s points involved to separate placings and ties and what have you on laps. Basically it’s just a tag team format.

Daniel Holloway 50:55
The era of six days we did, you basically weren’t allowed to warm up, that was taboo, it was unprofessional –

Colby Pearce 51:04
The warm up was the intro

Daniel Holloway 51:05
Yeah. So, how they built the schedule was they would introduce the teams in reverse order, the first night as far as your jersey number and then GC order from next previous night’s and that was just kind of built in as the warm up. So we did that, 16 teams was about 15 minutes of rolling around on the blue and then half the guys would drop off the track and then next half would do these kind of show sprint’s every five laps. There’d be a sprint for points and each point, in some races, had a sponsor some didn’t. But that was again part of the warm up process.

Colby Pearce 51:44
It was like a points race but there was no –

Daniel Holloway 51:48
No gentleman’s handshake that nobody was gonna attack, we’re all going to sprint, go back up to the blue, take your lap turn,

Colby Pearce 51:53
Except at to in the morning and Zurich when we see attacks – Know when to break the rules. Rule number 99.

Daniel Holloway 51:58
If you look at, if you just write that riding down on a piece of paper in isolation outside of the race, that’s a warm up you do – you go ride around for 15 minutes, and you do seven sprints every three minutes, and then boom, you’re ready to race. So they tripled that and they made that an event, so that’s why you weren’t on the rollers, we come to find out – as much as that stressed you out.

Colby Pearce 51:59
Took me a long time to get around these paradigms.

Daniel Holloway 52:31
Then normally like at the halfway point of the sprints, you throw your partner in, and then you’d go straight into like a 20 minute or 30 minute “chase”. And that’s basically a timed event of racing. The objective is to take laps on the field and then there’s normally 1-3 sprint’s at the end to get some points to separate the teams on zero laps.

Colby Pearce 52:53
Yes, but the key detail that you’re missing because it’s so obvious to you is that any chase is raced as a two man team format. So what that means is, if Daniel was in the race, the peloton is at the bottom of the track, they’re basically staying at the bottom of the track doing close to on the black line. So they’re doing roughly 200 meters per lap. If I was on relief, I was riding slowly at the top of the track. And every time I was lapped by the peloton, I would drop down and Daniel and I would do a hand exchange at speed. So he would literally put one hand on the tops of his bars and throw me into the race as hard as he could and then I would resume racing. Then when the rest of the peloton went by Daniel would then take a right turn and go to the top of the track and recover while I raced in the peloton. So this happens about every 35 to 45 seconds for 20,30,40,60 minutes, 75 minutes.

Daniel Holloway 53:45
100 k two hours

Colby Pearce 53:46
100 k whatever, continuously. So it’s about the most stochastic race pattern you can imagine it’s pretty much full gas on almost full rest, but with an incredible amount of technical skill applied because, don’t forget, we’re on track bike. So in case you don’t know, that means we can’t coast and there’s no brakes. It sounds incredibly dangerous. And it is. But the beauty of it is really the only way you can screw up is to ride off the track completely or hit someone else but no one else can stop. So all you have to do is go around them, right? It’s like that old movie with John Cusec “Better off dead.” They’re stand at the top of the mountain and he goes, “I need some advice here. How do I win the ski race?” He goes, “Go that way really fast. If something gets in your way turn.” That’s pretty much six-day racing, except do it at 60 k an hour and a really tiny gear with one hand on the bars. And then you’re good. Yeah, right? Easy.

Daniel Holloway 54:39
Easy. So then throughout the nights, you had different race formats, whether that’s an individual goes up and does a scratch race or an elimination race. Then they have the dernie, you get involved with that, which is definitely nerve wracking, kind of the first time you get up there and they’re like, “Oh no, you’re gonna go out with eight other dernies and then do an exchange in the middle of the track.” This seems unsafe.

Colby Pearce 55:06
Everybody is going like 70K an hour, so you had different bikes with bigger gears and a disc wheel, use always used a disc for the durny, I don’t really know why. And the thing about the dernie – well what’s a dernie? A dernie is like a two stroke, bastard child moped made in 1941 that somehow still running. Is that an accurate description?

Daniel Holloway 55:24
Pretty much. And they do all the motor pacing on any European velodrome and they actually have dernie road races.

Colby Pearce 55:35
Literally a picture of dernie racing on our wall in the studio right now.

Daniel Holloway 55:39
Look at that.

Colby Pearce 55:40
So, just as a big picture perspective, the chase is also known as the Madison and it is literally named after Madison Square Garden. This used to be a huge thing in the United States, six day racing originated here. Now there’s really no six-day racing here except for Portland, which I would argue doesn’t count, no offense Alpenrose, and then it migrated to Europe. Also, originally, it was conceived as they just wanted people to ride for six days straight. And then people started dying. So then they gave you a partner to swap in and out. And then the change was done. Old School change used to be you literally just grabbed the guy in the shorts or the jersey and just kind of whipped them into the race and then they figured out the hand sling. So that’s how it’s evolved, then it got shorter and more explosive. And then they changed event format a little bit and started doing different formats, like sprints and stuff.

The wave man
Colby Pearce 56:27
And you got to tell us about the wave man, what’s the wave man?

Daniel Holloway 56:30
So I guess through our time, again, this is like a dream come true to be racing professionally at the six days, and I was just full of energy, always dancing, making a fool of myself, and all that stuff. I think everybody saw that energy –

Colby Pearce 56:47

Daniel Holloway 56:48
And personality. And a German guy was, the guy that led the wave, is – basically the whole peloton rides at the top of the track kind of as a final chase warm up. And so there’s, I didn’t know, but the song that this German guy did it to was about cowboys and Indians. And there was a dance to it and waving arms and certain mannerisms at certain times with the song.

Colby Pearce 57:16
So the whole peloton is riding at the top of the track and everybody’s taking their hands off the bars while you’re going pretty fast at the top of the velodrome, this is like a lot of skill

Daniel Holloway 57:24
Just your standard sports game wave.

Colby Pearce 57:26
Yeah, exactly, only you’re riding your bike.

Daniel Holloway 57:27
Then there is this dance to go along with the song that I have no idea about. So, at one six day, this guy, his wife was pregnant, and he had to leave early, so he had to go. And they all pointed at me as the replacement wave man. And I was like, “Sure, why not?” It was the most nervous I’ve ever been because if I crashed the whole peloton crashes and I look like an idiot, and we’re never coming back. And so-

Colby Pearce 57:56
There are lots of moments like that in six days, actually

Daniel Holloway 57:58
I get up there. And I just start riding way too fast, start doing the wave and I start doing all these other mannerisms at all the wrong times to the song, and I get off the track and go “That was awesome.” And our mechanic who’s German is looking at me, he’s like, “Do you know what you’re doing?”

Colby Pearce 58:14
You’re an idiot.

Daniel Holloway 58:15
I’m like, “no.”

Colby Pearce 58:17
Did you not figure that out already?

Daniel Holloway 58:18
He’s like, “Yeah, there’s like cowboys and Indians and you’re like, doing everything wrong. And I was like, “I had no idea.” And so they played that song for like, another three nights and then the next six-day, somebody, I think it was Copenhagen maybe or whatever, they just started playing born in the USA. And that happened to be my, you know, wave song for the rest of my career, it was pretty cool. So yeah, I was kind of indoctrinated into becoming the wave guy for anytime I was at a six day.

Colby Pearce 58:46
But then you really got the cop when he brought out the chicken suit.

Daniel Holloway 58:50
Yeah, I don’t know what that was about. Copenhagen, you know, they have interesting humor, decided to haze me, and for the kids day, they really wanted me to ride a chicken suit. Like a full body, full head to toe everything.

Colby Pearce 59:06
Yellow feathers-

Daniel Holloway 59:06
The hottest thing I’ve ever worn. Died of heatstroke. And yeah, that will live in infamy. The kids loved it, got to do for kids. But I’ve since then Batman, Stormtrooper once

Colby Pearce 59:24
Oh, I’m bummed I missed these. A stormtrooper?

Daniel Holloway 59:27
Copenhagen let’s get wild. They’re a good group.

Colby Pearce 59:30
You shouldn’t worry about that suit being hot. I’m really sure that no one’s ever sweated in it before or it’s been washed.

Daniel Holloway 59:35
Yeah, definitely. Yeah.

Soigners and cabin behavior
Colby Pearce 59:38
Cool. Good stuff. So okay, I got to tell one story quickly, or maybe I’ll let you tell it: We’re sitting at the table having dinner. This is probably night, two or three of Dortmund and you share a cabin with certain other riders right. And the the cabin you share is based on who has the similar soigneur and mechanics, or really swanear because they take care of you. So there’s usually two soigneurs per cabin. And soigneurs do everything in a six day. I mean, when I say everything, you have no idea like between a chase and a points race, for example, you come into the track, you roll up and the soigne catches your bike so that you don’t have to backpedal and strain your legs. Now, the way I’m going to say this makes it sound like a princess, but there’s a system involved in this for very specific reasons, meaning because when you go to stop a track bike, the only way to really stop at the very end is to apply back pressure or grab onto a solid object and use your arms. Both of those costs of muscular effort and energy and can make a rider sore. So the soigne catches the bike you hop off, you go to the to the mini cabin on the the infield of the velodrome and the soigneur, pulls your jersey off, pulls your undershirt off, wipes you down with alcohol, puts the new undershirt on over you, puts the new jersey on over you, a clean one, and then towels off your face and then hands you your bottle of water and your little tiny, we used to get these little bowls of porridge or a little biscuits or cookies or whatever, to keep the energy going.

Colby Pearce 1:01:09
So the point is, when you’re racing super, super hard, you’re four or five, six days in and you’re throttling yourself, like I’ve gone so deep in some of these races you don’t wanna get sick, you can’t sit there in your wet sweaty clothes. And all these jerseys that are handed by the promoter are like 98% lycra so they look cool, but they’re not real good at dealing with sweat, so you always wear an undershirt, so you have to get cleaned up so that you’re not sitting there in you’re sweaty clothes for 20 or 30 minutes between races while your partner is racing and then they get the dernies warmed up.

Colby Pearce 1:01:36
And then sometimes there are other events in between, like, someone will sing a song, like Donor Dino would sing a song, one of our guys, he had a great contract opportunity because he was a good bike racer, and also a singer. So you’d go sing an Argentinian valid on the piano.

Colby Pearce 1:01:49
Or they also had sprinters that would come in and do kind of like this contrasting event. So they might have a round of match sprints or a cure in or something like that. And that gives the Six Day field a chance to rest.

Colby Pearce 1:02:00
Early before our program begins you the UIV race goes which is the young kids, right? So they get a chance to raise too and then watch us. So there’s all these balanced things going on, there were also laser shows or other comedy routines, so it really was part athletic event part show.

Colby Pearce 1:02:18
So then this soigneur buttons up all these things. So now at the end of the night, we go to our cabin, our main cabin, which is like in the bowels of the velodrome and we’re there and in our cabin, I believe it Dortmund ,all these blend together, all the cabins and all the races, but at this moment, we had Robert Barco, who was known as the Terminator. This guy was in the East German team pursuit squad for like his entire career. He’s just exactly the way you would imagine him, like perfect crew cut, fake in bake tan, muscley as hell, like-

Daniel Holloway 1:02:48
Zero hair below his chin

Colby Pearce 1:02:50
Like literally laser hair removal from his Adam’s apple down. Nothing.

Daniel Holloway 1:02:59
Whatever night it was, you just elbowed me like, “Dude, dude, you ever noticed Barco has zero hair on his body?” I’m like, zero? You’re like, “Zero.” And I was like, I’m not paying that close attention man.

Colby Pearce 1:03:14
The guy weighs like 100 kilos of muscles walking around with his tan, you know, and everybody’s naked and wandering all over the place in the cabin just the way it works, right? It’s like it’s truly a locker room.

Colby Pearce 1:03:24
Anyway, hard to miss is my point. So, we’re at the dinner table, we’re like five nights in or maybe two or three nights in, enough to where both of us were like thoroughly in a pretty solid haze of fatigue at that point. And also like what the fuck is going on? Like both of us were just like swimming for our lives in this peloton that was just going a million miles an hour all the time, trying not to make mistakes, trying not to die, trying not to get dropped. And it’s a little bit fraternity-ish. There’s all these traditions. They’re all these things you do, they’re always songs you sing, and all this weird stuff that happens when you go out to dinner after the race each night and one of their traditions is like a typical drinking game tradition, right? Where when someone burps you have to like make hang loose sign and put your thumb on your forehead.

Colby Pearce 1:04:12
So here’s Daniel just like, just man, you were just like, your universe. Your entire universe was your plate. That was it. And I get it, I’ve been there so many times. And somebody burps and we’re all there with our thumbs and I was like 12 out of 13 people, barely made it and then there’s Daniel, didn’t even notice, you were so – and Barco just walks up behind you and just for whacks you on the back of the head so hard out of the blue which is just so unnecessary, such a cruel lesson, just whack and you just you look like you’d been sat on by a hippo, you had no idea what the hell’s going on. You were so confused. Beautiful learning moment.

Daniel Holloway 1:04:50
That was also the same time when we raced zobelle and he was in our cabin. I remember the first night walking in Gary’s like, “Hey guys, give me your bags, this is our table, this is where we set up, this is where your stuff is” you know we ran through like our normal names, hanging out with things like, “Oh yeah Zobelle’s stuff will be right here.” And I was like “Who? Wait say that again?” Goes, “Yeah Zobell will be here. Probably won’t seem that much, but he’ll be here for dinner and like obviously before racing, but like this is where he is.” I was like “holy shit, Eric Zobelle, I’m in the same locker room as him? Oh god, definitely don’t make any mistakes.” But yeah, that third or fourth night, I was tunnel vision eating food and the burp happened and I just just got smacked and the whole room died of laugh. I was like what is this, I made eye contact with Eric and he was just like, holy shit kid, get it together and I just like oh and I just went straight back to eating like it just wasn’t fazed because I was so hammered. So in a hole.

Fatigue during a six-day race
Colby Pearce 1:05:46
And the thing about the six days is the fatigue was – it’s a different style of fatigue. You can go mess yourself up Tour de Hero or whatever, a hard five day stage race, I’ve done Tour Guatemala, Tour Vensuals, Tour of New Zealand, these are all hard bike races, your legs hurt, you’re tired afterwards, but the fatigue in a six day is different because you’re pedaling so unbelievably fast for so much of the racing and the concentration level is so high.

Daniel Holloway 1:06:10
And it’s neuro fatigue like your muscles and stuff get tired, but it’s like a normal training tired, but you have neuro-load is beyond anything you could ever train for because the sound, the music, the lights, you know all the stimulus you get –

Colby Pearce 1:06:27
And the stakes.

Daniel Holloway 1:06:28
Yeah, you can’t replicate any of it

Colby Pearce 1:06:30
If we eat it at the front of the peloton, here there are guys who this is their pro season like you’re literally taking away 10s of thousands of euros from them if they break a collarbone or break a femur, you know, so-

Daniel Holloway 1:06:42
Hashtag Berlin, hashtag final race

Colby Pearce 1:06:46
Exactly. Or Munich for me that was the big one

Daniel Holloway 1:06:49
Even though it wasn’t our fault.

Daniel Holloway 1:06:51
Well, you know, it was never, it was never 100 to zero but anyway – But that whole night I had a dark cloud over my head. I could feel it coming.

Daniel Holloway 1:07:00
Well like the whole peloton did because everybody got their jerseys and it was just like, Oh, this is light blue dots and this is teal dots, and this is red dots, this is orange dots.

Colby Pearce 1:07:10
And the orange and red are really close.

Daniel Holloway 1:07:11
And it just like in the lighting there was like eight teams that looked the same. Going into that race, like whether it was that race that we weren’t sure, we tried so hard for like three years to get into, was like Munich, Munich Munich and then finally we’re there and it’s just like – there was definitely an aura you know, at least over us, I don’t know how much over the other guys, but we went in adn it’s like that first chase was happening and yeah, I just remember drop down with my hand out and just like you always find your own way of ‘where’s my teammate.’ So, I’m always counting like, okay, I gotta count six helmets and then I should feel the hand and it’s like 1-2-3-4-5-6, “Colby what are you doing?’ just in my head and then I just felt like I got run over by a Mack truck. It was like the second biggest drummer on the track just ran into me. I was like ‘what was that?’ And then you guys came around again, there was bikes all over the track,

Colby Pearce 1:08:05
There was a bike in their way – so this is how fast things happen. You’re going 55-60 k an hour, we were flat out in that chase, and this is something that commonly happens in cycling, especially in Madison, when you’re learning to do a Madison, your teammate will drop down to do a change and you just won’t even see him. You’re just on another planet, you’re just so fixated on the wheel or watching all the things that are happening, or going over the other changes that are happening in front of you, analyzing the colors, the noise, everything that you just miss him. As you get better and better, you do this less and less, well this is one of the moments that I still had one me and I just completely missed Daniel.

Daniel Holloway 1:08:16
You didn’t even try, like you were just-

Colby Pearce 1:08:46
No no I wasn’t, I just didn’t see you at all

Daniel Holloway 1:08:47
perfect arrow, perfect everything like there was no other thing, your tunnel vision was mine at the dinner table when I got smacked on the head.

Colby Pearce 1:08:54
Totally, 100%, 100%. I went right past you, but weirdly a part of me saw because I have this memory of you like getting hit and seeing the crash and going “Oh, a crash happened.” And that’s the other thing about a six, a lot of times when there is a crash people kind of sit up a little bit and look out of respect to make sure things are safe. That did not happen in this instance. It was full gas, like there were guys doing battle. And we came around the next lap and the field was starting to explode so no one could get the bikes off the track in that probably 15 seconds it took us to make a lap. I mean that speed on 200 is not very long. And we came around and guys started parting around the bike and I saw it and went I got a turn and I turned to hard.

Daniel Holloway 1:09:37
Yeah, I just remember watching you just like this bout start/finish line and you just went right turn, left turn and high sided yourself on the on the left turn. And then yeah, just Barca ran over you. The season was over and then we were abolished from Munich.

Colby Pearce 1:09:52
Yes. Yeah. That was not happy times. You make mistakes like that, you don’t feel good all.

Daniel Holloway 1:10:01
But in crazy contrast we raced Bruno’s Retirement in Zurich. It was like night six. And it was the most insane thing I’ve ever been a part of in entire cycling, just louder than any moment, Athens or anything else, it was deafening. And we were going flat out in the last chase and I just remember hearing nothing except for noise, just crowd noise. And overly loud announcer and then the next thing I know, coming down the homestretch was like for paramedics. And I’m just like, ‘Why are there paramedics on the track?’ And it’s like, you tune into that side of the track because you have never pay attention to that. And there’s like four guys laying on the side of the track. You’re like, ‘oh, when did that happen?’ because it wasn’t in front of me. I didn’t hear it. It was just like, what? Then for the next like 30 laps, it’s like, they’re not stopping Bruno’s retirement race to pick up three dudes off the inside of the velodrome. One by one those guys are just getting like carted off super tight to the railing. You’re just like, dude, like, that’s how crazy it isn’t here. Like that’s just how a big crash can happen and you can’t even hear it. And you don’t even see it until this completely foreign thing coming at you pulls you out of this focused headspace. Because you’re just watching 31 other guys do exchanges and then pay attention to your 1 partner.

Daniel Holloway 1:11:24
Doormen we were orange jerseys. Powerade. I remember explicitly. That’s all I focused on is like bright orange, Colby’s bright orange, that’s all that matters. This is my target. And then we went to the next day and we were like purple and somebody else’s orange and like all these things, but I was so fixated to get an orange and like the first chase, I was like, grabbing the wrong hands and not like “Oh, God, oh god.” You learn to then just move to like shorts and like find your other cues. Numbers.

Colby Pearce 1:11:54
Real guys look at the numbers because there’s always two jerseys that look very similar color under the light.

Daniel Holloway 1:12:00
But I just remeber that like bright orange, bright orange, bright orange next six days, like, that’s not Colby. What am I doing?

Colby Pearce 1:12:04
Who was that guy?

Daniel Holloway 1:12:05
Cuz he’s like dropping in front of you. And alarm bells are going off because you’re gonna run into something,

Colby Pearce 1:12:12
Totally. So many of those moments where you have to so quickly assimilate information. I have vivid memories of just being in the peloton and just being kind of amazed, it’s almost like you’re outside of your own body, you’re watching and you’re going I can’t believe how fucking fast we are going. We are hauling ass. And when the teams are working like that, it’s like a perfect machine, man. You wouldn’t believe how fast you’re going. And this is in, for me, I usually use an 89 inch gear, so 53/16, you were a little bit bigger, usually 54 right? Yeah, yeah. Or 50/14 sometimes. So touch bigger. And I mean, you’re pedaling, I had an SRM on for a lot of these. You’ve got minutes and minutes and minutes, hours by the end of the week at 120, 125, 130 rpm, screaming. And when guys do 10 or 12 races all winter long, they pick those small gears so that their legs aren’t smoked.

The evolution of six-day races
Colby Pearce 1:13:03
That’s old school now things have changed people put on these monster gears and they do one six day and they come in and it’s different right?

Daniel Holloway 1:13:10
It’s a whole different vibe, it’s a mixed peloton of you have you know Kenny, who’s comes from the old school right and he knows the old school book but it’s a new school playbook with the promoters and stuff wanting a different format and blending the two. Then you have like these new old guards and lot more like younger Ozzie guys coming in, younger British guys who not only they need to prove something within the race, they need to prove something externally to a selector or a team or something like that, you know, because they’re trying to walk up the street and they’re like, well, I’m gonna let the big dog eat and you know, show people how like, strong I am.

Colby Pearce 1:13:47
I got the 110 on.

Daniel Holloway 1:13:48
Yeah, Jake and I went to one I was like, oh, Jake, yeah, 92 will be fine, would be good. And it’s like, do the first one and it’s like, we’re both just revved out, not just, ah, but here’s like, Okay, all right. Different game. Alright, time to put on you know, 96-97. And, you know, at least we can hang out with the guys.

Daniel Holloway 1:14:07
Yeah, watching the evolution and being part of the evolution, I guess, of the six days has been interesting. And again, with that, sitting back, watching, learning before applying was hedge night Hong Kong two years ago. We got second or third there on the overall, making waves, winning stuff. That was pretty cool, but that would have never happened if I didn’t take the step back, sit, watch, learn, not get ahead of myself just because that was the moment of time where I had to prove myself. It was definitely the long term thinking. And that paid off with Adrian I being successful because it’s like, I’ve got the full rulebook. And I’ve also got the rulebook of how to break the rulebook. So let’s now apply both.

Colby Pearce 1:14:53
You gotta learn the rulebook first, then know how to break it.

Colby Pearce 1:14:58
Well, Daniel, I know you’ve got to run, I want to be respectful of your time, but I really appreciate you making room in you’re scheduled to come in and chat with me today and tell some good stories. We could probably go on for another half hour-

Colby Pearce 1:15:08

Colby Pearce 1:15:09
Who knows, we got a lot of stories, we could bust out a part two at some point.

Daniel Holloway 1:15:13
Is this safe to touch? Are the walls safe to touch?

Colby Pearce 1:15:17
THAT might be in part two, or it might not. But if you see me on a group ride and you want to ask me about it. I might tell you about it, depends on your tone. Good stories to be told.

Colby Pearce 1:15:28
Daniel, I just want to say thank you for coming in and also it was a real, it was an honor to get to race with you in Europe. And it’s been really cool to watch him progress through the sport and take all these lessons that we learned the hard way and apply them and I wish you all the best for next year in Tokyo.

Daniel Holloway 1:15:43
Thank you sensei

Colby Pearce 1:15:46
Attention space monkeys, public service announcement. Really, technically, it’s a disclaimer. You already know this, but I’m going to remind you that I’m not a lawyer, and I’m not a doctor, so don’t take anything on this podcast to constitute lawyerly or doctorly advice. I don’t play either of those characters on the internet. Also, we talk about lots of things. And that means we have opinions. My guests opinions are not necessarily reflective of the opinions of anyone who is employed by or works at Fast Talk Labs. Also, if you want to reach out and talk to me about things, feedback on the podcast, good, bad, or otherwise, you may do so at the following email address info@cyclinginalignment.com.