Keirin Speed Racers

For those who don’t know (we surely didn’t), Keirin—meaning “racing wheel” or simply “bicycle race”—is a fiercely competitive track cycling event where cyclists sprint for victory.  Although fairly new to the public, with the first Olympic competitions starting in 2000, Japanese Keirin racing and its culture have begun to spread across the globe. It has become part of the culture in Japan, not to mention one of the cheapest forms of entertainment—that is, if you can resist the urge to gamble. We stumbled across this incredible video yesterday (filmed at the National School in Tokyo and the Tachikawa and Yokkaichi velodromes) on NOWNESS, directed by Jonathan de Villiers, whose fashion photography has been featured in New York Times Magazine, so we decided to dig a little more…

Keirin: Speed Racers on Nowness.com.

Today Keirin can be grouped into two categories, the first, a little bit more conservative, includes UCI and Olympic track cycling. The second and original form of Keirin, is a state-run sport, dating back to 1948, and generates billions of dollars in gambling revenue each year. Keirin is closely compared to greyhound or horseracing in the West for a frame of reference.

The racers resemble cartoon superheroes, clad in brightly colored jerseys and helmet covers. The colors were standardized in the mid-90s, to make them easy for the crowd to identify. A certain amount of pushing and shoving is tolerated by Japanese Keirin rules and as the speed racers compete for the best position, gnarly crashes are not uncommon. Due to the intensity of the sport, Kieren riders are generally bigger in size (not to be compared with road cyclist Lance Armstrong) and often wear protective “body-armor” baselayers under their candy colored jerseys.

In other cycle-worthy news, the Velodrome for the 2012 London Olympic Games is ready! The 6,000-seat velodrome, used for track cycling events, is the first of the “big-five” large projects to be completed for the Games. The 35-mile track, surfaced with Siberian pine timbers, banks gently at 42-degree with a longer straightaway towards the finish, making for a very dramatic racing atmosphere.

Images via Freshness

London is the first Host City to incorporate sustainability in its planning from the start. The stunning design by Hopkins Architects features clean lines and eco-friendly features, including optimal usages of natural light, rainwater collection for re-usages, and a lightweight cable-net roof construction. Following the Games, a road circuit and mountain bike course will be added to the venue, together with the velodrome and BMX circuit will serve as Lee Valley VeloPark.

Images via Designboom

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