Since its inception, IU’s Little 500 - the country’s premier intramural collegiate cycling event - has grown into a week of festivities. For Bloomington and IU’s police departments it is the busiest week of the year, and Lance Armstrong himself said it was “the coolest event [he] ever attended.”
Now, the Little 500, or The Little Five as it’s affectionately known, is in its 60th year. The race, taking place at IU’s Bill Armstrong Stadium April 23 and 24, features a 200-lap men’s race and 100-lap women’s. Qualification rounds determine the top 33 teams - consisting of four riders. Each team races one cyclist at a time. This adds a level of strategy as teams switch riders, allowing a fast rider to catch up to the pack or a tired one to take a break. Rules require each team to make 10 exchanges (five for women) in the pit-exchange area.
Bikes are provided by the IU Student Foundation for a $300 deposit, and conform to rigid specifications. The one-gear Schwinn cruiser style bike, inspired by a 1960s design, is the sole bike allowed in the race.
The chance for campus glory fuels the already intense competition where milliseconds separate winners and losers. The 25,000 yearly attendees cemented The Little Five’s place in IU’s history. But fame and glory aside, all the money earned from the 500 goes directly to a scholarship fund for working IU students. The 500 has given over a million dollars in scholarship funds since the race began.
As beer bongs are filled, and Jager bombs concocted, Bloomington students and police prepare for the biggest party week on the campus' boisterous schedule. Biking 200 laps in the sun may sound hard, but picking the wildest parties is the true challenge of the Little Five.