Freshman Claire Choinacky, a rookie rider and alternate for Kappa Delta, will most likely not be participating in this year’s race. However, she’s proud to carry on her family’s legacy in cycling.
Choinacky has grown up around the Little 500. Her father, David Choinacky, is the founder of the Black Key Bulls and a former coach in the race, while her uncle rode in the Little 500.
David brought Claire and her sister to the track for as long as she can remember. Some of her earliest memories of being around the track involve riding scooters and bikes around Bill Armstrong Stadium with her sister Megan.
She said it’s “funny looking back on it now” as a student.
“I remember one year when I was little, I was with my sister, and it was freezing cold out, and we had to have blankets wrapped around us,” Claire said. “I’ve grown up coming to everything and it’s been so much fun.”
Now it’s come full circle. Claire, a former club volleyball player in high school, has fully entrenched herself in cycling and is excited to carry on the family tradition of Little 500. This year she is an alternate for Kappa Delta.
“I knew if I came to IU I wanted to ride for sure,” Claire said. “I’ve known about it forever so I knew automatically that I wanted to be a part of the Little 500.”
David remembers Claire first expressing interest in cycling during her junior year of high school. Their first big ride together was two years ago in the Hilly Hundred, a non-competitive cycling tour near Bloomington.
David said Little 500 has brought Claire a new avenue to competition now that she no longer plays volleyball. He said he thinks there was a natural gravity to the race for Claire because she had grown up around it.
Being competitive runs in the family, her father said.
“She’s got that gene,” David said. “Having been around it I think she feels comfortable. She’s been looking for a niche and I hope cycling turns out to be perfect for her.”
Cycling has deepened Claire’s bond with her father. She said she knows how proud he is of her. Her father worked hard to build the Black Key Bulls and is now seeing his daughter ride, she said.
“It’s so much fun because we get to share something that he loves so much,” Claire said. “I know I’m making him very proud joining a Little 500 bike team and potentially riding in the race next year.”
David said he appreciates the memories and bond he creates when he and Claire go out for a ride.
“It’s the father-daughter conversations out in the middle of some country road trying not to get chased by dogs that are so special,” David said.
David said he’s happy to see his daughter carry on the family tradition as cycling is something that’s in their blood and he likes serving as a resource to her.
“As a parent you wish your kid the best and support them in any endeavor they pursue,” David said. “At the end of the day, as long as she has fun and a great experience, that’s success in itself right there.”
Claire said she enjoys being able to participate in bike races like her family has done for multiple generations.
“It’s really special for me because I know I’m making my grandpa, my uncle, and my dad very proud,” Claire said. “I want to keep carrying on the legacy and hopefully my future kids will be able to too.”
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