Photos: Little 500 Fall Series Street Sprints, change of venue from Kirkwood to IU campus

The sunny weather, mostly calm winds, and temperatures in the mid-50s meant good weather conditions for last Saturday’s (Nov. 6)  Little 500 Street Sprints.

This year, the course started in front of the Indiana Memorial Union on 7th Street and headed farther into the university campus, east towards the Showalter Fountain.

The 200-meter straight-line sprints are part of a fall series of events connected to the  Little 500 race, which is held in the spring at the Bill Armstrong Stadium track. Rounding out the fall series are individual item trials at the stadium track, and cyclocross races at the tailgate field.

Continue reading “Photos: Little 500 Fall Series Street Sprints, change of venue from Kirkwood to IU campus”

Wednesday night: Leaders of cross-country bicycle race roll through Bloomington, race referees know their movie quotes

Around midnight on Wednesday, a few minutes into Thursday, an SUV headed south on SR 45/46 waited at the light to turn left onto 3rd Street.

The door panel had an official placard—it was a race official’s vehicle for the Race Across America (RAAM).

RAAM is a 3036.9-mile bicycle race starting in Oceanside, California ending in Annapolis, Maryland. Since the race was founded 38 years ago, the route for the RAAM has not always been the same. But it has passed through Bloomington for several years.

Through the open window of the SUV the driver shouted to the B Square: “Cutters! The Italians are coming! The Italians are coming! Rebate? Rebate?!

He caught his own mistake: “Wait, no, that’s not it … Refund? Refund?!

The recitation of familiar lines from the movie “Breaking Away” was his response to the B Square’s question: “You know you’re in Bloomington, Indiana, right—the greatest bicycling town in America?” The highlight of the film is the victory of a team called the Cutters in the Indiana University Student Foundation’s annual Little 500 bicycle race.

The light turned green before The B Square could catch the driver’s name. Continue reading “Wednesday night: Leaders of cross-country bicycle race roll through Bloomington, race referees know their movie quotes”

Photos: 2020 Little 500 Cyclocross

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The Little 500 bicycle race is a spring tradition at Indiana University. Complementing the spring race is a fall racing series, which includes a cyclocross event. The women’s races were run Saturday. Men’s races are set for Sunday, starting at 1 p.m.

The course through the tailgating field just south of the Indiana University football stadium is laid out with orange “Happy Halloween” tape. It includes places where riders are forced to dismount and then navigate an obstacle like a sand pit or a set of hurdles. Teams of two riders compete in the race, alternating laps for a total of 12.

Plowing through the uneven turf of the field and maintaining a straight line on a standard-issue Little 5 bicycle makes cyclocross an event that’s a test of sheer power. Temperatures on Saturday had climbed from freezing in the early morning to the mid-50s by 1 p.m. when the racing started. Some of the colorful fall foliage remained on the trees, but much of it was already sprinkled across the green carpet of the tailgate field. It was a spectacular fall day—the kind you see in picture books. So here’s some pictures. Continue reading “Photos: 2020 Little 500 Cyclocross”

Photos: 2020 Little 500 Individual Time Trials

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The Little 500 bicycle race is a spring tradition at Indiana University. Complementing the spring race is a fall racing series, which includes individual time trials.

Temperatures were in the low 60s with winds of 10-15 mph out of the southwest, with gusts up to 25 mph, according to the National Weather Service. That make for tough going around the third turn into the home stretch.

Results are posted on the IU Foundation website: 2020 Little 500 ITT results.

COVID-19 pandemic protocols on campus are strict. For the ITT this year, no one except riders and volunteers were admitted into the Bill Armstrong stadium. The church parking lot just to the south offered a decent vantage point if you had a ladder.

Continue reading “Photos: 2020 Little 500 Individual Time Trials”

Little 500 notebook: Cutters are the only team

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The Cutters Little 500 bicycle team gather, in a socially distant way, at Bill Armstrong Stadium to hang out for a bit on Saturday, April 25, when the 70th running of the race had been scheduled. It was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Dave Askins/Square Beacon)

The 70th edition of the Little 500 would have be run today at Bill Armstrong Stadium in Bloomington, Indiana. But it was cancelled over a month ago due to the COVID-19 pandemic, like so many other events across the country.

The storied bicycle race this year would have featured an attempt by one team to win the 50-mile race for its third year in a row, and a total of 15 times.

That team is the Cutters, led by seniors Noble Guyon, William Huibregtse, and Patrick Coulter.

“It’s the only team,” Robert Harman laughed, standing on one end of the track on Saturday, as he uncrossed the arms of a sweatshirt draped over his shoulders to reveal a “Cutters” T-shirt. Continue reading “Little 500 notebook: Cutters are the only team”

Column: “Breaking Away” sometimes means taking a delightful detour

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[Note: The Little 500, the bicycle race at the center of the 1979 movie “Breaking Away,” has been cancelled this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It was scheduled to be run on Friday (women’s) and Saturday (men’s) this weekend.]

Last July, I managed to arrange a phone interview with a Minnesotan named Betsy Hodges.

Maybe 15 minutes into the conversation, Hodges launched into the Indiana University fight song. She sang it through to the end. “Indiana, we’re all for you!”

I did not ask her to do that. “When I meet somebody from Indiana I start singing the fight song,” she told me.

But on that occasion she wasn’t merely being friendly to a Hoosier she just met. Hodges was proving a point: The IU fight song is part of the opening festivities of the Little 500 bicycle race as portrayed in the film, “Breaking Away.”

The point: Hodges was not, as I had thought, mixing up the IU fight song with “Back Home Again in Indiana.”

Her performance was convincing, in part because Hodges is not an IU alum. How else could she possibly know the IU fight song by heart, except by watching “Breaking Away” a few hundred times as a high schooler?

“I memorized the film,” Hodges told me. Continue reading “Column: “Breaking Away” sometimes means taking a delightful detour”

Bloomington paves way for Little 500 street sprints

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On Saturday afternoon in downtown Bloomington, a blocked-off Kirkwood Avenue offered enough car-free asphalt for the Indiana University Student Foundation to run 54 heats of cyclists down a 200-meter course.

Kaethe Schroeder (SKI) and Robert Strobel (Black Key Bulls)  prevailed in the  finals of the women’s and men’s divisions, respectively. The Street Sprints are part of the fall cycling series tied to the Little 500 bicycle race held in the spring.

The first rounds of the Street Sprints included 24 heats, which winnowed the men and women’s fields from 167 total cyclists down to 32—16 men and 16 women. The remaining rounds were two-up sprints—only the winner advanced.

According to race director Andrea Balzano, this fall marked the ninth year of Street Sprints. For the first two years the event was held on North Jordan Avenue, but since 2013, it’s been held on Kirkwood.

Kirkwood, of course, is an avenue that’s storied not just in song (“Tonight, I’m gonna see my baby again, we’re gonna go walkin’ down Kirkwood, look at us go”) but in Bloomington’s public works budget presentations this year (“Pavement maintenance project for East Kirkwood Avenue…Delayed due to high contracting costs”).

Continue reading “Bloomington paves way for Little 500 street sprints”

5 ways to prep for watching the Little 5: “Do all those things while you can.”

This coming weekend, the Indiana Student Foundation will host the 69th running of the Little 500 bicycle race. It’s a 50-mile race, which means 200 laps around the quarter-mile oval of Bill Armstrong Stadium. It was immortalized by the 1979 film, Breaking Away.

The women’s race starts Friday, April 12 at 4 p.m. The men start at 2 p.m. the following day.

For maximum enjoyment of the race, the best way to prepare is simple:

Watch the movie, then go out and do all the stuff that’s in the movie. 

But you don’t have time to do all of it, because you’ve got a busy life updating your Twittergrams and Instabooks and whatnot. So I’ve pared down the stuff to just five things. Continue reading “5 ways to prep for watching the Little 5: “Do all those things while you can.””