After Junior Worlds we visited Japan. It was mostly a noncycling trip, but of course we had to check out the local velodrome. In this case, that meant the amateur velodrome in Hachinohe (Aomori Prefecture, at the northern end of the main island, Honshu). You can walk up any time and see the track as shown in the panorama below.
The velodrome at Hachinohe. Click for a larger view. Please pardon the choppy stitching of the panorama - the original images were not well aligned.
Getting farther seems to be a little trickier. We had family who had lived in Hachinohe for a year, so we thought that we might be able to talk our way into a couple of laps around the track. After all, my brother-in-law works at a high school known for its athletics, and he was able to contact someone who knew about the track.
Unfortunately, the local team was traveling so our best “in” didn’t work out. We found some riders at the track one day, but they were apparently from Sapporo, and probably had neither the authority nor the inclination to let an unknown rider onto the track when they had a scheduled workout. Oh well, I hope our questions (we didn’t even get as far as asking for track access) didn’t annoy them too much. Interestingly, the bikes stored indoors were mostly pretty generic, but the visiting riders were on very nice equipment – Anchor frames and plenty of disk wheels were seen.
As you can see, the facility is quite nice. Remember that this is not one of Japan’s 50 professional Keirin velodromes, just an amateur facility in a city of about 240 thousand (location map and population reference). How many tracks in the US have an apron, a large warmup track, additional paved infield areas, a tunnel, and a two-story storage and training facility? The lack of any spectator seating emphasizes a different approach – most US tracks try to attract interest and/or raise money by encouraging spectators, but this track is all about training. Of course this track probably has funding from Keirin betting revenues, or direct from the government, something we can’t match in the US.
Facilities at Hachinohe Velodrome. Slightly nicer than the old shipping containers used for storage at my home track.
Interior of the Velodrome building, with tons of bikes, indoor trainers, pace motorcycles, crunch board and free weight (mostly out of this picture) gear. I have no idea what's upstairs, but there's another whole floor to this building.
All photography by Kathy Ryan.