Tuesday, February 15, 2011

What you can expect during Rookie Week

To all the rookie riders out there,

Congratulations! You've made it to the track after months of training, waiting, and anticipation. Getting out on the track for the first time is always a memorable moment for Little 500 riders.

I hope that everyone enjoyed the couple indoor information sessions we had last week when the weather was a little too harsh. Sometimes those inside days during Rookie Week can seem a little boring and uneventful, but remember the three goals of Rookie week:

1) Learn how to exchange
2) Learn how to pack ride
3) Learn the ins and outs of the Little 500, pick-up on strategy, and be able to speak the Little 500 lingo

I hope that those info sessions and film reviews got you even more excited about the race, and hopefully you've learned enough to pass your rookie test (if you haven't already!). Speaking of rookie tests, rider council members will send you up to the press box to take your test later this week. Scores will be released sometime soon too.

Just a reminder, your Riders Council is a group of 18 veteran female and male riders responsible for helping you (rookies) get acquainted with the race and track. Look for us in the red and white argyl jackets with names on the back on the track. We've chosen to be RC members because we want to help you enjoy the Little 500. Feel free to approach us at anytime to ask questions about the track, training, scheduling issues, etc.

I guess I should introduce myself, since this is a blog and you'd probably like to know who it's coming from and why you're reading it. My name is Andrew Morrow, and I'm a third year rider on Riders Council. Like most you (I'm assuming) I didn't pick up riding until I arrived at IU three years ago. My older brother who rode for my fraternity got me interested in and excited about the race around Christmas of 2008. I bought my first bike and the rest is history. It's amazing how much fun the Little 500 injects into a college career. I applaud all of you for jumping into this exciting arena. Without a doubt in my mind, you won't regret a minute of it!

So why am I writing this nostalgic-for-Little500 online blog? Well, this year your RC thought that it would be a good idea to put some perspective on the race and race preparation from a veteran's view point. Once per week for the next 10 weeks a different RC member is going to chime in on a host of topics including "How to interpret the Team Development packet", "Gearing up for Quals", and "Different team roles in the Little 500." As the title of this blog suggests, I'm going to give you a little heads up on what to expect during Rookie Week (well the remainder of RW since we're about halfway through).

So what can I say is the most important part of Rookie Week? Keep reminding yourself why you're going through this process. Review those three goals I listed above. If you keep those three goals in mind for the next week or so, you'll not only enjoy rookie week, but you'll absorb a lot more information. I want you all to recognize that this is YOUR time on the track; in a way, it is individual mentoring time before the heavy-hitting vets storm the track next week.

I remember my first day out on the track three years ago: it was cold, rainy, dark, and lousy. I envy you all because Tuesday's track weather was exponentially better than my experience. I was chatting with a couple rookies today. We all agreed that it's easier to concentrate when you've got warmer weather (40's like we had yesterday is warm for February track time).

The first time I hopped on a little 500 bike I fell flat on the track (actually my toppled bike break my fall!). Just like yesterday, the RC in 2009 had me working on hopping on and off the bike that day. Getting on the bike was tough that day, but by the end of Rookie Week, I felt like I had mastered the fundamentals. It was all up to me to practice mounting and exchanging after that.

Like I told some of you today, RC can only show you the fundamentals this week. After this week, it'll be all up to you to master the art of exchanging and track riding before Quals in March. Practice! Practice! Practice!

So what else can you expect during Rookie Week (other than antics from Anderson)? Well, we will continue to drill mounting and dismounting the bikes, bike-to-bike exchanges, rider exchanges, pack riding, track and pit communication, and how to clean your bike. At the end of the week, we'll throw in a couple games. Get ready for some "Foot Down", which is a bike-handling challenge, and perhaps a "Rookie Miss-N-Out", which is a cut-throat speed race around the track. Obviously, you don't have to participate in the games, but we think that the games will offer a nice playing field to showcase your skills after a week of practice.

I can't emphasize enough, on behalf of RC, that Rookie Week is MANDATORY! You must attend; no questions. IUSF volunteers set up a table on the infield each day at the track. Make sure you sign-in and sign-out so that your track times are calculated. No check-in means an absence.

Again, I'm excited for you. The Little 500 is something unique. It's something big. It's something exciting.  A lot of hard work and a little luck could make it something special for you!

I wish you all the best.

Turn left,
Andrew M.

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