IU's Little 500 has earned the reputation of being known as "the greatest college weekend."
However, even though the race and its time trials kicks off during the spring semester in April, it all begins earlier than that for the riders.
The training regimen is a year-long commitment and the competition truly starts during the annual fall series.
The series spans from August to October and gives both veterans and inexperienced riders an opportunity to get an early taste of the Little 500.
For newer riders, the Little 500 Riders Council leads weekly Friday group rides. Usually beginning in late August and stretching into early November, the group rides help riders get acquainted with the streets of Bloomington and the Little 500 community as a whole. Each week, there are three rotating routes that range from long rides of 30-45 miles, intermediate rides of 15-25 miles and beginner rides that are 5-15 miles long.
Even if one doesn't own a bike, they can still participate as the Indiana University Student Foundation rents bikes on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Riders new to the race can also attend the Little 500 fall skills clinics at Bill Armstrong Stadium. There, they can learn about the race, basics of bike riding, exchanges, bumping and pack riding.
Participants can also loan bikes for the clinics, but must bring their own helmets.
Once newer cyclists have gotten some experience, they can participate in the Thursday night race series, which is open to all skill levels.
Riders are split into different skill categories. Then, the IUSF tracks the progress of all the riders, awards points and the riders move up as they progress in their skills.
Registration is $10 per night.
However, in mid-October, the high-level competition begins.
The individual time trials, street sprints and cyclocross events give the more experienced Little 500 riders a chance to show off their skills during the Little 500 Fall Cycling Series.
In the ITT's, four riders are placed into each heat and begin on separate corners of the track at Bill Armstrong Stadium. Beginning from a standing start, they complete four laps and are placed into groups based on their times after the four laps.
Last year, the all-time record was broken in the women's ITT's as then-fifth year senior Brooke Hannon finished with a time of 2:33.083. That broke the previous record time of 2:34.00 by Kristi Hewitt in 2009.
In the men's ITT's last year, Joe Krahulik won with a time of 2:17.893. The all-time record is held by Hans Arnesen, who recorded a time of 2:15.78 in 2005.
Meanwhile, the street sprints are described as "drag racing on a Little 500 bike" according to the Little 500 website. In the event, participants race against each other as they sprint 200 meters down Kirkwood Avenue between Indiana Avenue and Lincoln Street.
After prelims, 16 men and 16 women move on to the championship round.
Finally, the cyclocross is a relay event. Riders split into teams of two and compete against one another on a course at the tailgate fields. They must trek through a variety of obstacles that include straw bales, sand and more.
The men's race consists of 15 laps, while the women's race lasts for 10 laps.
For rookies to compete in events in the spring, riders must participate in three Friday group rides, three of four skills clinics, three of five of the fall cycling events, one of two rookie information seminars Nov. 7-8 and pass the rookie exam with a score of at least 85 percent.
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