The future riders of the Little 500 began their intense training yesterday, marking the start of the annual Rookie Week for all first year riders. The preparation for the rookies will last until Feb. 28, after which the track will open for all veteran riders.\nThe ten-day preparation for new riders was created to give rookies the chance to get a feel for the course, learn track rules and become comfortable with bike exchanges. The practices are closed to all other riders to give the new riders a chance to get comfortable with the track and regulations without the pressures of veteran riders on the track.\n"Rookie Week is a good opportunity for new riders to get a feel for the track before veterans start riding, which can be intimidating to new riders," IU Student Foundation assistant director and Little 500 coordinator Alex Ihnen said. "During Rookie Week, riders get to know the Riders Council and get a chance to work on exchanges and get to know other aspects of the course. Right now, it's really relaxed, so it's a great chance for the riders to get used to the track before it gets too competitive."\nThe rookie training week is headed by IUSF, which is on hand for all practices and the 2002 Riders Council. The council is made of nine men and twelve women veteran riders with two or more years experience to their credit. The council was composed to mentor new riders and give them a chance to learn about the course and aspects of the race from riders that have competed in years past. \nDelta Chi rider and Riders Council member, junior Patrick Thomas said the Riders Council works with new riders in order to get them comfortable with exchanges and pack riding to prevent injury. \n "It is important to get everyone on the same page during Rookie Week, because it could ruin a race when someone doesn't know what they are doing. It can be very dangerous. Learning how to ride the right way is a very serious thing. It's not like a high school sport where everyone knows how to play and (what) the rules (are); people need to learn how to do things like exchanges and pack riding. There's no way that they will be able to learn those things unless someone that has done it before shows them how to, which is why we are there to help."\nIn the eyes of rookies, the Riders Council eased the first day nerves and made each rider feel welcome at Armstrong Stadium. After all the first-year riders entered the stadium, the Riders Council began the practice with introductions and examples of exchanges, which they later worked on in small groups. \nFirst year rider, sophomore Kate Buschkopf, said the Riders Council was far from competitive and made her first time at the track easy to handle. Buschkopf, who rides for Alpha Phi, said once she got onto the track and looked into the stands imagining race day, her fears and nerves disappeared.\n"Once I got onto the track everything was fine. The Riders Council made things so much easier. They were all neutral and really wanted to help me to be the best possible rider I could be. They were so helpful to all the rookies and were trying to get everything together," she said. "We all just wanted to help each other out"
Get stories like this in your inboxSubscribe