30 October 2011

Track Party!

Through work that my office is assisting with related to a charitable project (the Oranda-jima Foundation) to help the recovery of Yamadamachi in Iwate Prefecture from this year's devastating tsunami, I happened to be at a meeting last week where Jan Remie, the manager of Rabobank's Tokyo branch, and Harada-san, one of the other Rabobank Tokyo executives, mentioned that they were a prime sponsor of the opening event planned for today at the new velodrome in Shuzenji on the Izu Peninsula.  I immediately mentioned an interest in attending, and was delighted when Jan said that it might be possible -- as a guest, in the "midfield" seating in the center of the arena.  On Thursday this week I was told by Okawa-san of Rabobank that there was a second ticket available, so ended up planning a day in Izu with Jerome.

We drove down, and parked at the new velodrome at the Cycle Sports center.

We hopped on our bikes for the trip down into Shuzenji proper, headed South through central Izu, then East up over Hiekawa Toge (Frozen River Pass!) and down to Ito on the coast -- a delightful road I remember riding with David J., Juliane and MOB back in Golden Week of 2008.  Then a quick spin up the coast with wind at our backs, and onto Route 19 for the climb up over the Izu Skyline and part of the way down the western slope to complete the loop back to the velodrome.  The weather was spectacular, and even on a ride of less than 50 km, we were able to manage about 1000 meters of climbing.
Jerome heads up the forested climb to Hiekawa Toge -- no traffic!

The velodrome is great.  The wooden track looks beautiful and very fast, and the building is nice, new, functional, but not over-the-top extravagant.  I suspect that Keirin revenues paid for it.  After watching the day's festivities, I really want to try to ride on a track.

Thank you, Rabobank, for sponsoring a great event, and for raising money in support of a good cause.

I bought some Rabobank gloves, helmet, t-shirt, and a cap -- profits to go to the Yamadamachi relief effort.  I would have bought everything else they had for sale, including socks and a winter-weight long sleeve jersey ... but they were at least 2 sizes too small.  If you want to buy some similar gear, let me know and I will see if I can get it for you -- with the profits to go to Yamadamachi recovery.

For a cycling fan, this was a dream event.  Theo Bos, Olympic silver medalist and five time world champion at various track events, was there.

Late in the day, Mario Cipollini made a surprise appearance, and even raced and won in a team sprint event with Elia Viviani of Liquigas and another Italian rider.
Cipollini (center) and Viviani (right), in the glare of the spotlights
Cipollini still has quite a motor at age 44, and 22-year old Viviani cleaned up, winning multiple events during the day.
Liquigas' Elia Viviani and Saxobank's Michael Morkov await the medal ceremony after their victory over Rabo, a Japan national track team pair and numerous other pairs in the Madison.  They manage to find time to give an autograph to an eager fan in a Chinese dress.
Of course, the Japan national track team, and numerous Keirin stars joined.  There was a special Keirin race featuring the Japan national road racers -- including Fumi Beppu, Yukiya Arashiro, Yukihiro Doi and Takashi Miyazawa (who has recently joined Farnese Vini, several of whose Italian riders were in Shuzenji today).  41-year old Shinichi Fukushima, their sempai, won the event.
Beppu and Arashiro, looking relaxed and happy, post-race.

Jerome has told me in the past that he once helped Fumi Beppu get his French visa when Fumi first started racing in Europe.  Now, I finally can confirm that the story is true, and Beppu-san still appears grateful to Jerome.  He also seems to speak quite decent French.  Chapeau, Monsieur Beppu!
Up close to the competitors and, more important, their track bikes

And of course, there were the women's races.  Did you think Fassa Bortolo quit sponsoring a cycling team?  Wrong.  They still have a team, just slightly more attractive than the team Koki Nagai used to work for when he was the mechanic working on bicycles for Petacchi, Bartoli and Rumsas.

Simona Frapporti accepts her victory lei and bouquet
Now it is the Fassa Bortolo Top Girls team.  Simona Frapporti won a race, and she and Silvia Valsecchi came close in others.  The Japan national track women set several "Japan Records" on the new track -- the first of many that this track will see.
Silvia and Simona, who tore up the track today
I wanted to go back again for more the next day ... now I can understand a little of the Six Days of Ghent.
Our hosts, Jan and Miranda Remie


Manfred von Holstein said...

Sounds like a really great day out - I'm envious! Good photos too, and that's not easy indoors. What sort of camera did you bring?

coffee man said...

Amazing photos. I had some great days out with my bike, until it got stolen. I just cant believe it.
Loved the bike.

DeLonghi ESAM3300

David Litt said...

Thanks. The camera is my usual Panasonic DMC-TS2 -- one of the semi-droppable, water-resistant digital models -- a bit heavier than your basic cheap digicam, but still fits in the jersey pocket without problem. The way I managed to get some nice photos was to take lots and lots of photos and discard most of them ... and also, for the low light photos, to try to be as steady as possible -- leaning my hand against some kind of support when possible.