New Little 500 teams share experiences of first season

The event deemed the largest collegiate bike race in the United States is for anybody who wants to give it a shot.

A majority of the teams in the Little 500 consist of students from fraternities, sororities and dormitories. However, it is not restricted to just those groups. Any IU student who meets the rules for eligibility can form a team to participate.

The total cost to make a team is, at the bare minimum, $500. It is $100 for the race entry fee and $200 each for the minimum of two bikes required, which must be the current year’s Little 500 bike.

“The money for the bikes is a deposit so if you decided that you don’t want to keep your bike you can get the deposit money back,” Little 500 race director Andrea Balzano said. “But, I would say most teams keep their bikes. Especially if you’re a new team because then you’ll have those bikes to practice on for the following year.”

From there, it is required that the new riders complete their rookie requirements, which are set by the Riders Council, a group of 20 juniors and seniors with past racing experience, in either the fall or the spring. Each team can choose what season they want to do it in.

“This is what we call rookie week, which is a two-week intensive workshop basically,” Balzano said. “In these two weeks you’ll learn everything you need to know about Little 500 and how to race.”

After that the riders must participate in two out of the three spring series events and log 17.5 hours on the track between the end of rookie week and race day.

In this year’s Little 500 event there are five new teams joining the field of competition. On the women’s side there are the Sweet Potato Club, Camp Kesem, Phi Gamma Nu and Sigma Kappa . There is only one new team, Black Ice, on the men’s side.

Senior Anna Pusateri, the head potato and captain of SPC, said that, much like the club, the team started out as a joke, but as the team entered its senior year of school it decided to make a joke into reality and and ride in the Little 500.

“Making a team is pretty easy because all you have to do is get a dedicated group of people to show up every week,” Pusateri said. “We did rookie training in the fall ... but then got really serious over winter break.”

Sophomore Grace Landry, member of Camp Kesem, said the process of becoming eligible has its ups and downs. She said not being associated with greek life or having sponsors makes things difficult at first.

“Unlike most teams we do not have kits, rollers or the type of training environment as well as coaches that others teams may have access to,” Landry said. “Nonetheless, the experience has definitely brought us closer together.”

Camp Kesem is a camp led by college students that supports children whose parents have had cancer. Landry said she and her teammates all shared an interest in participating in the race and decided to make a team in honor of the camp.

“It was the organization that brought us all together,” Landry said. “We could not think of a better way to gain awareness for our organization’s cause and our wonderful campers and families than to name the bike team after something that means so much to each one of us.”

Landry said the riders never realized how much support they would gain from their parents and campers so quickly, which has just motivated them even more throughout the past few months.

The process is simple: Get a group, come up with a name, pay the money, go through the training and bike Little 500.

“Just do it,” Pusateri said in regards to students who are thinking about a team in the future.

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