If you are not familiar Keirin is a type of track racing where a pacer leads a group of track cyclists around increasing speed until only about 2 laps are left. This prevents any one rider from having to break wind while getting up to speed and also prevents tactical manuevers. Keirin is really popular in Japan, not only as a spectator sport but even more so as a form of gambling. 15 billion dollars gambled a year on keirin’s in Japan. Here’s a great collection of pictures from Japan’s Keirin history.
Let me say I’m not real big on gambling, but that sounds pretty cool to me, I’d love to spend an afternoon hanging out down at the local velodrome posting bets and gathering intel on the racers. Even more I’d like to be one of those racers ripping around a track at 70 km per hour. The closest velodrome to me Penrose Park in St. Louis and at 3 hours away I’m not scrambling to get a fixed gear track bike.
In my own tiny town of Harrisburg we have soccer fields, football fields, many many indoor and outdoor basketball courts, bowling alley, roller skating rink, an excellent foot track, an archery range. a swimming pool, and drag strip. Why can’t someone build a 250 meter banked track for me to ride my bike around real fast.
Bowling, really, think about how lame that is. A whole building and complex machinery so that people can roll a ball down a lane and knock over some crap. An entire sport where you can spend 90% of your time on your rear drinking? In cycling you can spend 100% of your time on rear, and put whatever you want in your water bottle. Americans love being seated, they hate walking, they like stuff with wheels. Why isn’t cycling more popular?