2015 has been one crazy year of going in circles! Some would say that in 2015 I have finally found my niche as a Professional Track Cyclist. For the past five years since I started racing bikes the 2016 Rio Olympics was the focus. It is a life long goal and dream to become an Olympian and this new sport of track cycling was the way I would make it happen. I trained long and hard, traveled the world with my RecoveryPump boots by my side, and progress was being made. But with anything worth doing there are challenges along the way. Unfortunately for me my biggest challenge would be receiving the support I needed form my governing body USA Cycling. Some days were good, but more days were bad. Ultimately they have never been fully invested in the sprint program. So with that, we as a team were unable to earn the Olympic points needed to qualify Team USA in the event that I race. This is heart crushing, but fortunately the blow has been softened.
Back to finding my niche. Last January I was 1 of 6 racers in the world invited to race at the Berlin 6 Day. A 6-Day race IS A PARTY!!! With 12,000 people a night packed into an indoor stadium with loud music, light shows, beer, and food it is an absolute spectacle. I love to race my bike, but I also love to entertain! Over the 6 days I won some races, but more importantly I won the crowd. I was given the “Most Entertaining Rider” award and was extremely welcomed by the German people.
Several months passed and I was still on a high from my Berlin experience. I looked forward to next year, but didn’t know if it was a performance I could recreate for them let alone another country. Soon after I got BIG news. After 40 years of not hosting a 6-Day race London was bringing it back and I was invited! They said, “Nate, you are a good racer and we like that, but you are exciting and fun and we NEED that!” I was honored to be invited, but not sure if the English people would enjoy me as much as the Germans had. So there was only one way to find out... Go to London and give them a party on my bike!
I arrived to the Olympic velodrome in London and could still feel its energy from 3 years past. It is a stunning facility built for the best team in the world. As I walked through the sliding glass doors I could hear the base! DJ Too Smooth from the Ministry of Sound was going to be our live entertainment for 6 straight nights. As I slipped on my signature yellow jersey the people were funneling in to see something that many of them never have. The party was back in London and I got to be one of the very select few to get to put on a show!
A 6 Day race is like racing your bike in a night club! When the sprinters come on the lights go down and the music goes up. With this race being televised live by Euro Sport gave some fun opportunities to play in front of the camera as well. In between races it is all about having a good time as well. So during DJ Too Smooth’s long performance we sprinters decided it would be a good time to get our dance on because how often do you get to dance on a stage in front of 7,000 people? Along with countless pictures taken and autographs signed there was no shortage of getting to feel like a rock star.
During the mornings and afternoons before racing would start it was Recovery Pump time! It felt so good to get a nice solid squeeze after a long night of racing and entertaining. Especially once day 4, 5, and 6 came! I got to room with Denise Dmitriev from Russia and he was a BIG fan of the boots. I think he would put in at least an hour of squeeze time every afternoon. Because racing goes till midnight or beyond we really do feel like we are living the “Rock Star” lifestyle. Sleeping in till 11 or noon, grabbing breakfast then going back for another 3-4 hours of sleep. We just have to make sure we are well rested to be able to put on our party at 50mph shoulder to shoulder with no brakes!
In the end London 6 Day was a huge success! Once again I was able to win the crowd and was the “crazy American” for the peoples enjoyment. Although the Olympics is no longer a chance it is amazing to know I still get to travel the world racing my bike and do it in Rock Star style!
- Nate Koch, Professional Track Sprint Cyclists