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.