Today I am not only reporting to Velomotion for the first time, but also for the first time from Japan. The reason is simple.
Every year, the Japanese Keirin Racing Association (JKA) invites a select few international drivers to Japan to make keirin racing more interesting and raise the stakes.
That's why it was a great recognition and confirmation of my success when the invitation came from Japan. The decision to accept was not too difficult for me, as was my comrades-in-arms Denis Dmitriev from Russia, Shane Perkins from Australia, Francois Pervis from France, Simon van Velthooven from New Zealand and Andrej Winokurov from Ukraine.
But before I can start in Japan, I must first have a kind bicycle license purchase, which proves that I am familiar with the system and all customs. For us international drivers, that means going to school for a week and a half. That sounds a lot at first, but it's really not. Because a Japanese has to attend school for about 1 year to be allowed to take part in the races.
I've been in Japan for a good week now and at first it was almost impossible to think about training, as the days between classes were full of press events and photo shoots.
In addition, the first racing simulations, including in the rain, were on the program. Something like that is unthinkable in Germany. Quite the opposite of Japan, because the tracks are built in such a way that you have enough grip even when it's wet and don't slip.
After each simulation there was a video evaluation. Rules and violations during the race were explained to us in detail during the evaluations.
In order to be able to simulate a real race, the JKA invited around 30 local drivers especially for us. The racers were of course compensated for their efforts with handsome sums of up to 2000 euros.
As you can easily see from the pictures, I don't ride my usual carbon bike here! For the sake of tradition, only the old, classic steel frames and spoked wheels are allowed in Japan.
I'm almost done with school now and I've learned a lot! Tomorrow is the final exams where I will have to take my bike apart and put it back together, as well as a written and oral test on the rules and behavior during a keirin race.
So wish me luck that I can also start in my first race from April 1th to May 30nd in Seibuen.