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  • Brit Matt RogersPHOTOGRAPHY: SOPHIE KNIGHT
  • Brit Matt RogersPHOTOGRAPHY: SOPHIE KNIGHT

Brit Matt Rogers: Keirin Dreams

, 2009/12/10

Their colored helmets are a blur as they spin around the track, legs throbbing and nearing explosion- there could be a crash at any moment. It was this sense of excitement that initially attracted Brit Matt Rogers to keirin, Japanese velodrome track cycling, “It’s fast pace and danger excited me. I saw a crash in almost every race… all those things interested me as a boy and they clearly still do.” Despite previously being a professional gymnast, and having the requisite strength and fitness to race, Matt didn’t anticipate how intense training would be.  Fixed gear bicycles do not allow you to stop which makes the transition into the sport initially difficult if you think about it in terms of getting enough air to the lungs and head.  Later the strain moved to his legs however it wasn’t only physical challenges that Rogers would face.

Keirin is a very closed and strictly regulated sport. Non-Japanese are not usually allowed to even train within Japan and most undergo rigorous training and tests. Fortunately, Matt was able to bypass that by proving himself, and after initially being told that he wasn’t even allowed on the track, has now progressed to being a member of the Japanese Cycling Association and regularly trains with racers of all levels.

What has helped Matt overcome these hurdles is his level of Japanese fluency and his experience in Japan. Rogers originally came to Japan three years ago, after being inspired by traditional artists such as Hokusai and Hiroshige. After going back and forth between Japan and England for a while, he decided to settle here to fully master the language and enter a design agency; both objectives were achieved and Rogers even set up his own company earlier this year.  Although Matt still enjoys many aspects of Japanese culture- not only keirin but the food, the art, the safety- he has begun to grow tired of the strenuous work ethic and strict hierarchical social system. He hints at a relocation in the future, but knows that wherever he goes, his bike will be with him.

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name
Brit Matt Rogers
place
Keirin, Tachikawa
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