Little 500 Cycling Opportunities

Welcome to Bloomington!

After months of awaiting your acceptance and start at IU, you are in the home stretch now with Welcome Week just around the corner.  You’ve heard rumors of what happens on campus, in class, at social events, and I’m sure you’ve seen multiple IU-related movies and YouTube videos.  At the top of that list is the famous “Breaking Away” movie, based on the Little 500 bicycle race. Interested in participating in this historic event?  Read on!

            If you can’t play for the basketball team here, the next best thing is to ride in the Little 500 (in terms of celebrity status on campus). High school athletes and new athletes alike enter cycling at IU with the ultimate goal of being a member of 1 of 33 teams allowed to race every year.

            Many high school athletes choose to ride because it’s a fun way to continue competing, only in the most intense intramural event in the nation. For me, I was always a music student and never competed athletically outside of house league basketball and baseball in my youth. Yes, a serious commitment is necessary, but it will be one of the most rewarding experiences you will ever have here.  Here is how you can get started:

  • Find a bike. It doesn’t have to be at $2,000 road bike, but something that functions well enough to get you up and down the hilly countryside that Little Fivers (Little 500 riders) know like the back of their hands.
  • Find a team. As you ride on the road, you will see, pass, and get passed by many teams, so start talking with them.  The IU Student Foundation (the organization that runs the race), holds weekly group rides for every skill level – from racing to crawling, to help new riders learn the necessary skills to be a cyclist. Talk to other riders, and the current race director, about finding a team. You don’t have to go Greek to ride, contrary to popular belief.
  • An open mind and a thrill of adventure. Cycling is a mental sport – you can only go faster and ride harder if you can overcome the pain in your mind.

The experiences and skills I got from riding in two races (for two different teams) are indescribable and unforgettable. So, as you begin to walk around campus during your orientation, imagine yourself riding around campus and envision yourself in the “Breaking Away” movie. When you ride around campus in your kit (cycling term for jersey and bottoms, or bibs), people look at you like you are someone special and important – a student riding to continue a college tradition dating back 63 years as of April 2013.

You don’t have to start riding during the summer, but as you get to campus and find that you are interested, find a bike and get riding.  Monroe County is so much more than just the IU campus – it holds beautiful hills, sights, and adventures for you to find. Who knows…maybe you will become a professional cyclist like the Cutter’s Eric Young, who started biking his freshman year and now rides professionally.

Enjoy orientation, and as we Little Fivers like to say…ride hard, turn left.

-Jeremy Levin 

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