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George Vlahakis
University Communications

Dana Cummings
IU Student Foundation

Pamela Loebig
IU Student Foundation

Last modified: Wednesday, April 7, 2010

IU's Little 500 celebrates 60 years of cycling and scholarships

April 7, 2010

EDITORS: A credentials request form for media can be found at A spreadsheet with state/country, home city, e-mail address and other information for all riders participating in this year's Little 500 is available at in the Little 500 section under "rider information."

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Even before the 60th running of the men's Little 500 bicycle race at Indiana University takes place, the competitive juices may be flowing for some alumni who are coming back to participate in special races of their own.

little 500 race

Photo by Heather Brogden

The Cutters hoist the bike they rode to victory last year

Print-Quality Photo

"We've heard of some gentlemen who are a little competitive in nature, even though they're getting up there in years," said Dana Cummings, director of the IU Student Foundation, noting that some will view the races as an opportunity to turn back the clock.

"I've had conversations with lots of former riders who have been absolutely blown away by what a life-changing experience it was for many of them. It was the pinnacle of their college experience and still is one of the best things that happened to them in their lives," she added. "As much as possible, they'd like to relive those glory days."

Alumni races will begin at 8 a.m. on the morning of the men's Little 500 race set for April 24 (Saturday). So far about 85 alumni riders have signed up to participate. Riders will be separated into heats that will be determined by the decades in which they rode.

The women's Little 500 -- now in its 23rd year -- will begin at 4 p.m. April 23 (Friday), and the men's race will start at 2 p.m. April 24 (Saturday). Both Little 500 and the alumni races will take place in Bill Armstrong Stadium, located off Fee Lane, just north of its intersection with 17th Street.

The races are patterned after the Indianapolis 500, with up to 33 teams lining up for the start in 11 rows of three. Starting positions are determined by qualifying times, with the fastest team nabbing the pole. As many as four riders can compete on a team. When one rider on a team is tired, he or she exchanges the bicycle with a teammate. The women's race is 25 miles -- 100 laps on a quarter-mile cinder track. The men's race is 50 miles -- 200 laps on the same track.

women's Little 500 race

Photo by Aaron Bernstein

It was an emotional celebration for members of Pi Beta Phi, who won the women's Little 500.

Print-Quality Photo

The competitors are amateurs and are full-time undergraduate students at IU Bloomington. Little 500 has been the subject of numerous news reports and sports broadcasts and an Academy Award-winning film, Breaking Away.

Pam Loebig, Little 500 race director and IUSF assistant director, said both races will be competitive. For the second time in its history, the women's Little 500 has a full field of 33 teams.

"I'm really excited about the women's race this year as it has come into its own," Loebig said. "The women are getting more motivated, because they know they have a chance to win. More women are training and more teams are coming in stronger. We have a very strong women's field, and it's wide open. Any team that wants to put in the work can win it, and there are a lot of teams that are doing that, so it's going to be a fun race to watch."

In the last three women's races, the first place teams -- Pi Beta Phi, Delta Gamma and Kappa Delta -- all were first time winners. On top of that, the past five years have also seen a different winner each year.

In the men's race, 10-time winners the Cutters, an independent team, are again on the pole and are defending their wins over the three consecutive years. The same four riders from last year's team are returning, but Loebig points to several other teams that have had a good showing in independent time trials and other track events.

"While, yes, the Cutters have set the bar as the team to beat, there are a lot of mens' teams that aren't just going to let them get away with it. They're going to come to race ready to give the Cutters a fight," she said.

Both bicycle races will be preceded by a running relay event, the Little Fifty, beginning at 7 p.m. on April 22 (Thursday) at Bloomington High School North, 3901 North Kinser Pike. Teams of four runners each, in both men's and women's races, compete in a 50-lap relay. Any IU Bloomington undergraduate student who is a non-varsity runner may compete. The race sprang from a desire to involve more students and increase participation in overall Little 500 activities.

Other interesting stories to watch this year:

  • In addition to residence halls and fraternities and sororities, other campus units often come together to form teams. In previous years, a team of women representing the IU Army ROTC has competed. This year, they are being joined by the IU Air Force ROTC, which is fielding teams in both the men's and women's races. The Liberal Arts in Management Program (LAMP) has a team in the women's race and had a men's team attempt to qualify.
  • Throughout the 2000s, the race became increasingly diverse. Mezcla, a team of Hispanic women, has competed for many years. Lioness Cycling, a team consisting of African American women, is in its second race and qualified 15th this year after starting last a year ago. A Mezcla men's team competed but did not qualify this year. One familiar contender, Team Major Taylor, is not in this year's men's race, but there is a team Cycling for Freedom.
  • Once again, both Little 500 races will be presented live nationally in high-definition television by HDNet. However, 3D television is all the rage, and IU's Advanced Visualization Lab, located within University Information Technology Services, will be filming the races as part of an effort to record IU events in the new 3D format.
  • This year, Little Fifty will be held out in the community at Bloomington High School North because the E.C. "Billy" Hayes Track at IU is being renovated. Cummings said the change in location has led to increased interest in official Little 500 events from high school students, including many who have since offered to volunteer. Transportation will be provided from the IU campus to the high school.
  • The races raise money for 34 scholarships valued at $1,000 each for working IU students. To date, the race has awarded more than $1.5 million in scholarships, while also providing countless leadership opportunities for IU students.
  • Another student philanthropy, Building Tomorrow at IU, is using cycling to raise money to build primary schools in Uganda. During Little 500 week, the organization will have a fundraiser, Bike to Uganda, that will include having stationary bikes set up around the Bloomington campus. The group's goal is to ride the entire distance from Bloomington to Kampala, Uganda -- a distance of about 7,710 miles. For more information, go to

All-event tickets, which provide access to all Little 500 races, are $25 for adults and $10 for children aged 12 and under. They are available at all Ticketmaster locations -- including the IU Auditorium Box Office and TIS Bookstore and online at Single-event adult tickets are $5 for Little Fifty, $15 for the women's race and $20 for the men's race. Single-event tickets will be sold only at the gate of each event. Go to for more information.

Other entertainment options will be available in addition to the official Little 500 events:

  • Grammy Award winning band The Flaming Lips will perform at IU Auditorium on April 22 at 8 p.m. They are touring in support of latest album, Embryonic, which was released in October. Tickets are $36 for IU students and $42.50 for everyone else and can be purchased at Ticketmaster ticket centers, including the IU Auditorium box office, as well as online at or by phone at 800-745-3000.
  • The Jacobs School of Music also on April 24 will present its annual Big Band Extravaganza at 8 p.m. at the Musical Arts Center, 101 N. Jordan Ave. Tickets range from $10 to $25 for adults and are $8 for students.

Media credentials and infield passes are required for the following 2010 Little 500 events: the Women's Little 500 Bicycle Race (Friday, April 23, at 4 p.m.), the Men's Little 500 Bicycle Race (Saturday, April 24, at 2 p.m.) and the Little Fifty (Thursday, April 22 at 7 p.m.). Credentials and infield passes will be issued only to working members of the media. Media credentials information and request forms can be found at