I heard about Little 500 long before I set foot on campus. In fact, I heard about Little 500 before I even considered going to college at IU. (Granted, I am from Indiana so that’s not hard to believe.) There’s a movie about it (Breaking Away), so people all across the country are familiar with the tradition that is the IU Little 500 bike race.
As a sophomore, this was actually my first year going to the men’s race. Two hours of cycling is what started the week-long tradition of parties, concerts, and celebrations around campus. Little 500 has become much more than a bike race and there are many different ways to do Little 5 if you plan to come to IU.
Here are a few that I observed over the past week.
- Go to the races. I think everyone should at least once while they’re a student here (which is why I did this year.) Despite the strangely cold weather that day, there were a lot of people around and it was really exciting to watch. They had parachuters during the national anthem…for real. So, even if cycling isn’t your thing, it’s really easy to get swept up in the competition of the racers, the entertainment beforehand, or just being surrounded by fellow Hoosiers and continuing the tradition.
- Party all week. A much more common mindset during Little 500 is to party Monday-Sunday as much as you can. And while for many, that’s what makes this “the greatest college weekend,” everyone needs to BE SAFE. This past weekend a student died after falling from a balcony on Friday around 5 am. By all means, have as much fun as you want to have, just remember to be responsible and look out for your friends while doing so.
- Concerts. …vary from year to year. Sometimes we get great acts to perform on campus, and other times people are less-than-enthused. This year was Sublime with Rome, which thrilled some people and left others looking for other things to do on Friday night. Either way, all the musical talent that comes to town is definitely something to consider when planning your Little 500.
- Go to class. Not likely for some, but smart nonetheless. Little 5 is a great chance to have fun in the middle of the week, but it’s also towards the end of the semester which means classes are still (and almost more) important. Many teachers cancel class or cut down assignments during this time of year, so even if you do show up, it’s not likely to be as painful as usual. I had four classes canceled during the week of Little 5 this year (and up until that point, I’d only had one class canceled THE ENTIRE SEMESTER. So yes, teachers do lighten up.)
- Hibernate. Okay, not really “hibernate”, but avoid the crowds/festivities/everything. For a lot of students that are here all the time, Little 500 is just one big drunk fest with high schoolers and out-of-town kids crashing campus and excise police patrolling the town. Bars where there is always a seat suddenly have lines out the door, while driving down the street involves dodging the stumbling guy in a tank you just yelled “F you!” (I kid you not, this happened to one of my guy friends on his way to get food). It doesn’t have to be all bad, but some people find that staying away from all the hype is sometimes a better way to go than getting caught up in it when we get to enjoy Bloomington all the time.
Whatever you choose to do, Little 500 can be a great time at IU and it’s a really fun week on campus. Just stay safe, enjoy the tradition, and then start waiting for next year’s race to roll around.