Firstly here is a link (about 3 mins) to last weeks racing, which is an insightful video. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VL7nOr_xtUg
My second race session this week was in Matsudo, just out of central Tokyo. The stadium was enormous and once again I had a fabulous time meeting some new keirin girls and racing with them. The Japan Keirin association chooses which girls ride each week and this field of riders, had very impressive statistics, percentage race podiums etc. I was also able to catch up on some uni work, which was great!
|I have become an ALL BLACK !!|
The first two days of racing consisted of two qualifying races for the final on the last day. I placed 3rd in both my qualifying races behind the top ranked Girl’s Keirin rider, here in Japan. Her name is Kanako Kase. She also attends UCI World Cups regularly and places among the top 10.
In the final race there was a good field of riders and I was happy to apply my planned tactics well and end up in 3rd place behind Kaarle (Olympic bronze medalist) and Kase who placed 1st and 2nd respectively. Finishing in these places, and giving those who have placed a bet on you, a return on their investment also feels good.
Here is the link to a video of the final: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BRl0jjVk-XY - I am wearing green.
|Out at dinner after racing with Riko and Miami|
After racing, some of the Keirin girls including Kase and my new friend Riko, took Kaarle and me out for dinner to celebrate. For Kaarle, Kase and me, this night included plenty of autograph signings and taking photos with fans, of which the Keirin girls seemed accustomed too. We also got to experience the Tokyo nightlife and boy, did we have some laughs and fun! The Keirin girls and guys really know the top spots in town!
The next day was busy. Firstly Riko took me up the Tokyo Sky tree, to have a look over Tokyo from 400m up. I found it mindboggling how large the city is. All the high-rises looked tiny and I saw traffic jams stretched as far as the eye could see.
|Views from the Tokyo Sky Tree|
|Me and Riko Holding up the Sky Tree|
We then had a media event for 5 hours. This included making rice cakes, which included a rather interesting method (see pic below). We would then give these rice cakes out to our fans in the thousands and meet and greet for the majority of the afternoon. After the event had finished, Riko took Kaarle and me to Shibuya and Harajuku for a bit of afternoon sightseeing and shopping. The Shibuya crossing was exciting and crazy, so many people going all different directions at the same time. I have never had a better people-watching experience in my life.
|Making the rice cakes|
|From left to right: Kaarle, Riko, Me, Miami (top), Kase (bottom) at the Media event|
Some experiences are very different. Keirin riders are celebrities here. I went into a coffee and cake shop and bought a small cake. The lady was then on the phone all the time, as I sat and ate the delicious masterpiece. When I emerged from the shop, I was surrounded by all the locals and it took me 15 mins to get through the throng, signing things and having photos taken!
Next weekend is my last racing session in Japan before heading back to New Zealand which is rather sad. This next race session has all the top Girls Keirin riders attending, so I am rather nervous but I am looking forward to racing again! For now, back to Keirin school tomorrow for some more training this week!