New Keirin event Bank Holiday Monday Herne Hill Velodrome
18.07.07 by Buffalo Bill
From the men that brought track bike racing to London messengers.
Kierin, kirin or, in this case, keirin, is paced racing on a velodrome. As you should all know, the velodrome is the natural home of the track bike. And Keirin is the most exciting thing you can do with a track bike at a velodrome. According to the excellent primer at Keirin, Berlin (hi Gary and Mo!), Keirin is Japanese for bicycle race.
In Japan, kierin racing is a massive spectacle. 1.5 trillion yen annually are frittered away on the outcome of races.
After the riders come out of the tunnel, “the racers gate”, they ride slowly to the start, fix their bikes in position in the starting machine, and bow once before getting into the saddle. There are usually nine racers but six, seven, or eight competitors can start. They are clad in brightly coloured jerseys and helmet covers, to make them easy for the crowd to identify. The colours were standardized in the year 2002. The numbers one through nine wear the colours white, black, red, blue, green, orange, pink and purple respectively. The races are usually 2000 m (5 X 400 m), although some tracks are 333m or even 500m long. The track is steeply banked at each end making for a very dramatic racing atmosphere. The race starts slowly, the riders jockeying for an advantageous position behind the pacemaker, who goes off the track after 3 laps and a bell rings opening the sprint. During the last two laps the pace rises, and the riders begin a furious battle, fighting to get into gaps. In the final sprint for the finish line the racers reach speeds of up to 70 km/h. From Keirin, Berlin
Former New York bicycle messenger Nelson Vails, who won a silver medal in match sprint at the 1984 Olympics, raced in Japan. At Speed, Skill & Sausages II, the organisers included a keirin event, which proved massively popular. Lacking a qualified pacer, they employed Aussie fast-man, Brett Perez. Now that Big Al has a license and a machine, he and Winston are returning to race organisation with the Keirin Fest 2007, an open event at Herne Hill Velodrome, 27th August from 1pm. All details are here.