Ben Kersten: 'The land that time forgot'

Ben Kersten, one of Australia's fastest track cyclists is currently in Japan attending the International Japanese Keirin school. The Commonwealth Games gold medallist in the kilo, Australian champion in the sprint, kilo and keirin, and Australian male track cyclist of the year headed to Shizuoka to study at the hands of the masters of keirin in May, and will be submitting diaries from his time at the school to Cyclingnews.

'The land that time forgot'

Where do I begin… I'm actually 7 days or so into the International Keirin school. I say 'or so' because I don’t actually know what day it is. Internet and telephones are a thing of the past for us, or perhaps a thing of the future in Keirin School.

It is a bit of an oxymoron being in the country that has made a name for itself by mastering such devices and to then to be reverting to letter writing and sending carrier pigeons.

This is in fact the first time I have had to write a letter (albeit 11pm at night), including the last weeks I had in Australia. These weeks before arriving were completely tumultuous. Most of this disruption is funnily enough for the same reason that I have neither phone nor computer now.

You see, Japanese Keirin has many rules and regulations (so many in fact that it takes a Japanese Keirin student one whole year of army/boot camp/university to learn them all). I won't go too in-depth but for the purpose of this topic I will elaborate on the Bicycle rules.

Basically, go back in time 20 years. Whatever bicycles they had then is what they use now and is all that is allowed. For the local circuit this is not a problem, as all these parts are of course easily accessible and used and sold daily in 'the land that time forgot'. In all my wisdom I do see how bicycle evolution has bypassed the Japanese Keirin. Because of the gambling involved, there must be total equality and consistency for each Keirin racer. There is no flexibility on these rules, nor has there been for some time, hence prehistoric bicycles for everyone.

To read the rest of the diary, click here.

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