Berlin: The Six Days

A few blocks west of the Bernauer Strasse tunnel, where 57 East Berliners crawled to freedom last week, an escape of another sort was taking place. Concocted of cigar smoke and the reek of raw schnapps, a blur of spinning spokes and the beat of a brass band, this form of escape goes by the name of "Sportpalast Fever," and can be indulged in once a year when Berlin holds its famed, phantasmagoric Six-Day Bicycle Race.

More than 40,000 West Berliners jammed the drafty, bomb-wracked Sportpalast last week, paying $100,000 for the privilege of watching a handful of...

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