Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Calling All Alumni Riders.....

There will be an informal group ride on the morning of the Men's Little Race:

Bill Armstrong Stadium - Little 500 track
Head out for a loop through Morgan-Monroe State Forest

So remember to bring your road bikes with you when you come to Bloomington this weekend. See you soon!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

It burns you know.

It burns you know … after a long set.

I mean it’s really going to hurt … but that’s why we signed up for this race, right? I mean lets be serious – we train all year for one single race. So why would it be easy? Finally, the 61st Little 500 race is here and it looks like the weather won’t be in our favor either. Then again, nothing could be worse than last year … or did I just jinx that? My name is James Coudright and I'm the Captain of Delta Tau Delta Cycling. This post will be the last before the race and with it I hope to prepare you (in my own sweet way) for that time in your set when you will have to make a decision – a simple yes or no – that will decide whether you look back on this year’s race with pride or embarrassment.

They say that pain is temporary … but when you’re on the bike during your set and you aren’t feeling too shabby … pain can seem to last a very long time. However, there are a couple of things that can encourage you when you get to that place:

1.If you are in pain – so is everyone else. Know that everyone is hurting just like you are. So push through – the pace of the race will get fast but if you can hold on until it slows down you’ll be able to recover before the next surge.

2.Fear is your enemy – the minute you start to second guess yourself your heart rate will start to increase and when that happens it’s usually a domino effect that most always ends in even more pain. So relax both on and off the bike. Your breathing should be steady, upper body and jaw loose, and mind clear.

3.Don’t let your mind wander – emotions, the crowd, the pain – erase it all. Think about the present and current future: straight away – turn – straight away – turn – burnout – recovery.

4. Make your own luck – none is freely given. If you or your teammates get in a wreck, get a flat, botch an exchange, or mess something up … get back up, mentally and physically, shake off the mistake and GO. This race isn’t going to give you freebies, but it will reward your hard effort. In 2010, FIJI Cycling was a lap down before lap 100 … could you have guessed that they would come to place second after not giving up, but instead working hard to make back hat they lost? In 2009, Cutters wrecked and fell off the back of the field … could you have guessed that they would come to win? These examples mark only a small sample of rider’s decision to keep going, even when luck, odds, and most everything else is up against them.

5. Accept the pain and be a bit sadistic. If you want to start getting ready for this race I might watch this video over and over and over again. I know I have.

Rest up because soon we'll all be in pain.

Monday, April 4, 2011

The Sacrifices Riders Make

Being a part of the Little 500 has been the most rewarding experience of my college career. The feeling every rider gets on race day is simply indescribable. Looking into the outrageous sea of colors that fill up Bill Armstrong stadium and hearing all the crazy fans cheering and screaming for their favorite team is an image a rider never forgets. As with anything important and worth doing in life, the Little 500 riders have sacrificed more than most people know to give Indiana University the World’s Greatest College Weekend.

First, I would like to start with the common misconception that most riders begin training second semester or a few months before the race begins. When people ask me if I started training again in the month of January I chuckle because they have no idea that I haven’t stopped training since my sophomore year (which was only three short years ago). For riders, cycling does not stop when the race does. Cycling is a year round commitment that becomes a lifestyle. For most of us, weekdays involve team rides up and down 446 or through the rolling hills of Bloomington with miles of scenic views of cornfields. Our weekends start at 9 am, sometimes earlier, to get our long rides in before the wind really picks up, or so we can at least enjoy some relaxation during our Saturday afternoons. I don’t remember what it feels like to sleep in and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I have spent many nights doing loads of laundry, watching movies, and passing out before the clock strikes midnight while most of my friends are frolicking to Kilroy’s. I’m sure I am not the only rider who has sacrificed nights out with friends and bar crawling up Kirkwood. The lifestyle of a rider sometimes makes us feel like we are not a typical college student because, honestly, we are anything but typical. That’s what makes our sacrifices worth it.
On top of glorious team rides, track practice is a must for rookies and a smart idea for vets! Track practice is a timely commitment where riders spend up to 2 hours and 15 mins out on the cinders, Monday thru Friday, in rain, snow, and wind. Lap sets, exchange work, and pack riding are all essential when it comes to race day, so riders spend hours perfecting these skills and techniques. Not only are we sacrificing our time, but our bodies as well. Crashes, scraps, and cinders in open wounds are all a unique part of riding. If one tire merely brushes another or there is a slight tap of the brake, a pack of thirty people can go tumbling down. Trust me it happens. That usually ends with a night of brushing out cuts with a metal brush to clear out all the cinders.
Many people have been complaining about bad weather lately and everyone can’t wait for spring and sunshine. I think I can say, with confidence, that nobody wants nicer weather than riders! Spending hours everyday at the track in bad weather or blustering winds is not what most of us would call a great time. Also, crummy weather can bring out my two least favorite things: rollers and trainers. I love nothing more then attacking the outdoor roads and embracing a great day of riding on the pavement, so when bad weather forces me to ride inside I make sure to have an entertaining movie on hand.
All of these things are sacrifices. Sacrifices that we love making. I sacrifice my time and my body everyday because I love the Little 500. I love the cinders in my shoes, Saturday’s spent at the track, group rides on a Sunday morning, and ultimately the pride I have on race day. I may have sacrificed a few nights on the Sports dance floor and a Harry Bear here and there, but it is all worth it. I am in the best shape of my life, I have a team I can call my family, and I participated in the World’s Greatest College Weekend. I can say I did something extraordinary during my college career that has changed my life in more positive ways then I thought possible. I get on my train and make sacrifices because the Little 500 has made me a better person. To our supporters and fans, you give us the thrill and motivation to bring out our best for those 100 or 200 laps. Fellow riders, I tip my hat to you.  In the end, we make all these sacrifices for one EPIC day: THE Little 500.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Quals Standings

Sigma Nu: 2:25.91
Cutters: 2:26.46
Sigma Chi: 2:26.71
Phi Delta Theta: 2:27.89
Delta Tau Delta: 2:28.03
Black Key Bulls: 2:29.09
Beta Theta Pi: 2:29.27
Air Force: 2:29.33
Cru: 2:29.40
LAMP: 2:31.16
Evan Scholars: 2:31.81
Grey Goat: 2:32.51
Delta Sigma Pi: 02:32.77
Theta Chi: 2:32.80
Kappa Sigma: 2:33.38
Delta Chi: 2:34.11
Phi Kappa Psi: 2:34.16
CSF Cycling: 2:34.23
Dodds House: 2:34.64
Achtung: 2:34.90
Hoosier Climber?: 2:35.22
#Jungle Express 2:35.41
Beta Sigma Psi: 2.36.27
Emanon: 02:36.27
Sigma Phi Epsilon: 2:36.36
Delta Upsilon: 2:36.76
Wright Cycling: 02:36.84
Sigma Alpha Epsilon: 2:36.97
Sigma Alpha Mu: 2:37.89
Acacia: 2:38.27
Pi Kappa Alpha: 2:38.71
Phi Gamma Delta: 2:39.65
Sigma Pi: 2:40.23
Beta Sigma Psi: 02:40.29
Lamda Chi Alpha: 2:40.31
Pi Kappa Phi: 2:41.76
Team Dark Horse: 2:42.35
Alpha Epsilon Pi: 2:42.61
Zeta Beta Tau: 02:43.17
Phi Kappa Tau: 2:43.48
Delta Kappa Epsilon: 2:44.83
Phi Sigma Kappa: 2:46.75
Corean Legstrong: 2:49.62
Rainbow Cycling: 2:59.54
Forest Cycling DNQ

Delta Gamma: 2:44.76
Teter: 2:47.52
Army: 2:48.74
Wing It: 2:50.00
Kappa Kappa Gamma: 2:51.24
Alpha Gamma Delta: 2:52.00
Pi Beta Phi: 2:53.91
Phi Mu: 02:54.20
Delta Zeta: 2:54.60
Gamma Phi Beta: 2:55.35
Kappa Alpha Theta: 2:56.98
Chi Omega: 2:57.29
Cru Cycling: 2:58.40
Alpha Chi Omega: 02:58.60
Alpha Xi Delta: 2:59.25
Ride On: 2:59.49
Kappa Delta: 2:59.90
Team Revolution: 3:01.98
SPQR: 3:01.54
Team Revolution: 3:01.96
Delta Sigma Pi: 3:02.66
Mezcla: 3:03.43
Alpha Delta Pi: 3:04.08
Delta Delta Delta: 3:07.92
Last Chance: 3:09.89
Alpha Phi: 3:09.98
Zeta Tau Alpha: 3:11.28
Team Gluff: 3:12.54
Air Force Women: 3:13.95
Alpha Epsilon Phi: 3:15.87
Rainbow Cycling Women: 3:17.25
Sigma Delta Tau: 3:26.88
Alpha Omicron Pi 3:23.42 *4th attempt

Monday, March 21, 2011

Gearing Up For Quals!

4 riders, 3 exchanges, 2 retries, 1 day... Welcome to Qualifications!  For most teams, quals is both anticipated and dreaded. Unlike the race, where you have 100 laps to correct mistakes, quals offers no such luxury. Add to this the uncertainty of the weather and you have an event that rivals the race itself. Your 4 laps will always make the difference, but the riling question is: "Will it be for better or for worse"?
For those of you who are new to Little 500, qualifications determines the starting order of the race, the order in which teams get to pick their pit position and their race day jersey color. Each team is required to complete four laps and three exchanges and when completed the teams are lined up in order of their qualification time from fastest to slowest; 1st to 33rd. The team qualifying 1st is considered the pole team and will wear green on race day.  While most teams have four riders, some teams have three or even two.  And although this process may look like no problem here, on more than one occasion, the defending Little 500 champion has failed to qualify for the following year's race.
For the teams who stayed in Bloomington for Spring Break, in order to have access to the track, exchanges took substantial priority over most other training.  Calls of "Exchange in turn in turn coming in" were heard all week, with noticeable apprehension on Monday giving way to increased confidence by Friday. On Saturday, each team takes part in the "qualifications ritual" visiting several "stations" including photos, student ID check, final rules briefings and the like before they hear the announcer say "Take the track!" The quals run is actually 5 laps, the first being a warm up lap for the team's first rider. That first rider will start off at a slower pace, coming up to speed in the back stretch, accelerating into turn 3 and out of turn 4 for the flying-lap start. As each rider races around the track the only thought in their mind is "faster...faster...faster! But as they approach turn 4, their mind switches from speed to accuracy as they prepare both physically and mentally for their exchange. The exchange zone they are approaching is 32 feet long, 16 feet on either side of the start/finish, or timing line. Because the lines are painted across the entire width on the track, the exchange zone appears to be much shorter than it actually is, adding to the apprehension of the incoming rider. 
The rules state that the rider receiving the bike cannot touch any part of the bike before the leading edge of the front wheel crosses the plane of the first white line and the rider coming off the bike may not touch any part of the bike after the trailing edge of the back wheel crosses the plane of the third white line (the second white line is for timing purposes only). If any of the above happens or an exchange is dropped between the first and third lines, a foul is called and the yellow flag is raised. It is also a foul to ride in the gutter anywhere on the track. If you do foul your team will be dropped three spots in the qualifications order and will get to try again, usually about 5 to 10 minutes later.  If a foul is called on your second attempt, you will be moved to the end of the day to attempt your third and final qualifications run.  Do not let a foul fluster you for your next attempt.  They do happen so just take the time in between to regroup and focus again. 
Qualifications is the official "kick-off" of the Little 500 competition and it is an event that challenges your, fitness, skill, accuracy and your mental toughness. It is the first step in every team's Little 500 journey and it is the most critical, setting the tone and the expectations for what will follow. If there one pre-race event that is well worth your time to attend, qualifications is definitely it. Good Luck!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Different Roles in the Little 500

Hi, my name is Ren-Jay.  I've been around cycling for 10 years now in various capacities.  I first started riding for fun, did some touring and began racing when I was in high school.  This year marks my second year on Rider's Council and my seventh year racing bikes.  I am no longer eligible for the Little 500 because of the Amatuer Status rules, however I am still trying to give back to the Little 500 community by coaching and through my position on Rider's Council.  In this post, I'd like to identify and explain some of the various roles one can take in the Little 500.

First off, you can join IUSF and contribute to the race either as a worker, or you can "gun" and try to become a member of Steering Committee.  IUSF, as many of you know, is the organization that puts on the Little 500 and the race wouldn't exist without them.  Within IUSF, Steering Committee is responsible for all of the organization behind the Little 500 and every year they do a great job attracting sponsors, marketing the race, and of course, making all the magic happen on race day.  Below is a billboard drawn up by some of the marketing people on SC, it's just one example of how they spread the word about the Little 5.

Continuing with the "behind the scenes" people, each team is required to have a timer and counter on race day.  The timer is the student representative of each team responsible for the official timing and scoring of each team.  They are paired up with a volunteer from the IU Foundation and together they time each and every lap that their team completes.  These timers are all stationed in the press box and with 2 people per team (one student and one IUF volunteer), the press box sure is crowded on race day!  The counter is on an elevated platform around the scoreboard and flips a number card each lap so that the fans can keep track of what lap each team is on.

Next up we have the coaches.  These are the men and women who organize, train, and of course, crack the whip for each team.  This is arguably one of the most important roles in Little 5, as without a good program, it's hard to succeed.  This is a role that I'm filling for the first time this year and thus far I've had a blast with it.  I'm coaching my old team (Black Key Bulls) and also Alpha Xi Delta together with my fellow BKB alumnus Scott.  Coaching is such an interesting job and while it has its highs and lows, it is one of the most rewarding and enjoyable things that I've done in college.

Then there are the spectators.  The race wouldn't have all the hype and excitement without them.  They're loud, obnoxious, smelly (sometimes), excited, occasionally inebriated, and essential to the race-day atmosphere.  Attendance at the Little 5 has repeatedly topped 20,000 spectators, which is probably the largest number of people at an intramural event in the country.

Finally, we have the riders.  This is definitely the most exciting job in the Little 500 and of course, there would be no race without the riders.  As a rider it's easy to get tunnel vision and focus only on your training, diet, sleep, and occasionally school.  However, there's so much more to riding than that.  For me personally the biggest take-away from riding Little 5 was the people I met and the friends I made.  Of course you become like a family with your team, but you also develop a bond with the other riders you're at the track with day in and day out.  Everyone is willing to share tools, water, sometimes warm clothing, and offer up a few words of encouragement and that creates a positive atmosphere which makes going to track practice much more enjoyable.  Riding Little 500 is definitely one of the coolest things I've done in college and I would encourage everybody on campus to give it a shot.

These are some of the main roles in that one can fill in the Little 5.  There are many more I didn't cover, such as IU-EMS workers, officials, sponsors, etc., but hopefully after reading this post you have a more complete view of what you can do within Little 5.  I've been involved with this event as a timer, counter, coach, rider, member of Rider's Council for seven years now and I hope I can continue to stay involved because it's been one of the best experiences I've ever had.  Even if I can't do any of those things in the future, I'll always go back to the role I first started with: being a Little 500 fan.