On Friday afternoon I joined Nick and Andy for a trip to the Speedom velodrome in Gwangmyeong, near Cheolsan station on line 7 for the bicycle races. Apparently only in Korea and Japan can you legally gamble on the bikes.
This picture of the ticket window was taken before things really got rolling--the big races at the end of the day saw over a million dollars in bets placed. The procedure is just the same as with the horses: quinellas, exactas and all that--basically, Latin for "you can lose all your money now."
I am not a very good gambler, so I go in with the expectation of losing a set amount of money, in this case, twenty to thirty grand. There were fourteen races, and I placed bets totalling 31,000 W. I won about four times, for a take of 8,000 W, leaving me 23 K in the hole. Andy, for once, did really well--I mean really well--and was gracious enough to treat us to samgyupsal for dinner in Cheolsan's party district, which looks like this:
After dinner, which was possibly the best I've had, and not just because of the price, we went to second round at a place called Longlife Beer, which has refrigerated wells in the table, like Garten Bier:
The final stop was a Japanese place for a big fried fish and a couple more brews before we had to make the subway around midnight.
Anyway, back to the velodrome. It is a very nice, clean building opened in 2006. They race on Friday, Saturday and Sunday throughout the year. It was clear from our reception that foreigners have rarely set foot in the place, but they were well-prepared, with a clear brochure explaining the procedure, and a booklet with the history and rationale for cycle racing in Korea. (The title of this post is one of the headings from this booklet, which includes tidbits like "Speedom is Leportsdom, Culturedom. Fundom, Healthdom, and Futuredom rolled into one.")
I put together a video with a few stills and some live action from our day at the races. In each race, the athletes have corresponding colors and numbers, e.g., No. 3 is always in red, No. 5 is always in yellow, etc. This makes it easier to cheer on your man. I put Mendelsohnn's symphony #4 underneath it, the theme music from "Breaking Away":
In addition to the gleaming race track, there was also a nice cafeteria and a Cycle Racing Museum--free of charge.
Inside were a couple of video displays and some Lance Armstrong memorabilia, possibly including his foot: