KEIRIN IN YOKOHAMA
Last Saturday, for the first time I saw some "live" Keirin ( = Cycling Race). I remember I went one time to the velodrome of Le Havre when I was a kid but it was nothing like this place.
This stadium is called Kagetsu Keirin JÃ´ (èŠ±æœˆç«¶è¼ªå ´ã€€= Cycling Race Stadium of Kagetsu ), it is near the Kagetsuen-Mae station, 15mn from Yokohama. Getting out of the station, a shuttle bus was waiting for people to go to the Keirin JÃ´, so I jumped in, the bus started and then about 20 sec after, it stopped... because we arrived ! 0_0 It's definitely the shortest bus shuttle I ever used! Anyway...
These afternoon races were part of the 150th anniversary of Yokohama's "opening to the world" events. I could hear from some usual Ojisans something like : "There is lots of people today, it reminds me the old days of Keirin". The mood was quite similar to what it is in an hippodrome : first of all, Keirin is about money. It's one of the rare gambling game allowed in Japan. The average user is an 50 y.o Ojisan but we can see any kind of people.
Inside the stadium, Obasans prepare some "home style" curry and you can eat sushi in a standing bar (ç«‹ã¡é£Ÿã„å¯¿å¸ã€€ï¼ã€€tachiguizushi) which I did :)
Then it's time for the races. Riders warm up...
Oops not these ones : judges take place and check the track using mama chari (= Mama's bicycle)
Here are the riders, imagine American footballers on bikes!
Well not exactly but it is the image that first came to me (or the movie Rollerball). The average rider is about 85/100Kg nothing compare with the 60 kg climbers of the Tour de France... It's a totally different sport. In the last lap of each race, they reach some incredible speed.