2013 Predator Keirin Classic...

arrival...

In their own way, modern Olympic velodrome's are nice; the comfort, the grandeur, the impression of importance. Even so, there is something special about the older outdoor arenas of competition, especially when the racing takes place at the end of a day. The sky moves from daylight sunny, the shadows lengthen through sunset, the darkening of dusk, and finally night. Lighting for photographing the action is perfect at first, then gradually becomes more challenging. The grainy images you get once the light is completely gone from the sky, is interesting in its own way - it is gritty, like the old track itself. 

Kieron's (of Ride the Black Line fame) Summer Race Series has become quite popular since its inception, so before launching into the recap of the night, lets all give a big round of applause to him, and everyone else who volunteers to organize the races, not to mention the sponsors of each event. Tonights race was sponsored by Predator Cycling, one of the regions fast growing teams. There was plenty of action in the fading light, as well as the darkness that followed it across the sky, and the pace was kept high throughout. There were 'C', 'B' and 'A' races throughout the evening. I may be far from an expert of the track, but it is interesting to notice the clear differences between each grouping. 


man down...

In the first of the 'A' races (kind of like the quarterfinals) former teammate going back to our days with Team Xtreme, Tony Zaldua, tangled with another rider and both hit the deck hard. Tony lay there for a moment moaning "my head, my head", while people quickly gathered around. He was up and roaming around by the end of the evening. Thankfully, not the kind of aimless roaming which might have suggested a head injury; a good sign. Hopefully no lasting harm and he will be back on a bike soon. It looked like his brother had possession of both halves of his bike. Damn shame. Heal up well, Tony Z.


warm up in the sun...


all fun and games


proudly worn


Kieron directing...

The Keirin night is a special one at Encino Velodrome - betting on the winners is a part of the game. It looked like the resident bookie was busy; hopefully the organization picked up some well-deserved funding. For those who are unfamiliar, Kierin racing began in Japan where it quickly became, and remains, especially popular. At the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games it gained official event status, and its popularity has continued to spread around the world. It combines both sport (racing) and gambling, as spectators bet on the winners of each race. The races begin with a motor pace, to keep the racers together. Then, with two laps to go, the competitors are released, and it is flat out speed to claim the win. 

Even though the Keirin races were the main attraction of the evening, there was also a Snowball and, towards the end of the festivities, a Sloooow Race. After the opening few laps of the Snowball, Justin Williams settled in to a groove and racked up the prize lap after lap. That slow race had its attraction too; once they were let loose from their track standing, one Bicycle.Net racer pulled out of his left pedal, circled the oval one-legged at a full gallop, and just managed to hold on for the win from a hard charging competitor. The crowd was going wild with encouragement - just about as good as it gets. Even though I am normally focused on the racing action, it is almost as good watching the reactions of the spectators to what is taking place on the oval. The food truck was there tonight, the music was playing, the stands were full, the railing completely lined, and the riders were out in force. Good to see. Towards the end of the night (I think there were only two races left) a very large group of riders flooded into the grounds on their night ride. I have no idea where they came from, who they were, or where they were off to next, but it was amazing to see all that support for the venerable Encino Velodrome. If you could get just a few of them to transition from street fixed gear to track ... there is a future.


Justin in the slipstream, but not for long


on the embankment


awaiting the motor pace


lighting the way


victory

love this one for the faces - they say so much


ooohhhhhh

the standing room


departure.

Besides the photos shown here, there are a selection of 92 here. As much as I appreciate people checking the photos I take (or photos by others for that matter) nothing compares to experiencing the action first hand; there are still two races to go in the Summer Race Series.

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