A new face will be taking the track at Bill Armstrong Stadium on Saturday.
The Indiana University Dance Marathon organization, one of the largest student organizations on campus, will make its debut as a bike team in the 71st running of the men’s Little 500 race this weekend. The team consists of seniors Garrett Riley and Isaac Polum, junior Lukas Troutman and sophomore Zane Gruwell.
While IUDM itself is brand new to the cycling scene, its riders are nothing short of experienced.
Riley, the spark plug in IUDM cycling’s creation, has been a part of the Little 500 for his entire collegiate career. He served as a captain of the Pi Lambda Phi team before it was filtered down to an all-IUDM group.
According to student coach Courtney Carlson, creating IUDM cycling became a reality quickly after the initial idea was brought up.
“We kept saying ‘We’re a really big student organization — let’s have a bike team!’” Carlson said. “As those conversations kept happening, the more excited people got about the whole thing.”
Polum joins his senior classmate, Riley, with a similar level of Little 500 experience, having competed in the two races that have taken place since 2019. Troutman competed in last year’s race, but faced a very different and fanless environment.
Gruwell is an Indiana cycling rookie, but has been an avid biker since sixth grade. His inspiration sparked after watching the Tour de France in his youth, and he regularly competes in competitive cycling races.
“Having bikers who already have Little 5 and biking experience made it easier to get a jump on becoming an official team,” Carlson said.
Not only are the bikers well-versed in their craft, but head coach and IU alum Barry Magee has a lot of training under his belt, as well.
“He has been a competitive cyclist for years, had coached the Pi Lam team for a long time and led a women’s rainbow cycling team,” Carlson said. “He’s done a lot, so it’s cool that he has now moved on to IUDM cycling.”
Among a group of skilled bikers and mechanics, Carlson is the only amateur.
She became interested in the cycling scene only after her friend and sophomore roommate joined a racing team. Once there was chatter about the formation of an IUDM team, Carlson knew she wanted to help out in any capacity and ultimately landed the position as student coach.
Her roles include, but are not limited to, sending inspirational texts to her teammates before practices and races, helping out with whatever Coach Magee needs in the race pit and leading stretching and yoga for warmups. On top of everything, she must try to contain the nerves of watching her friends work hard and compete for something they are so passionate about.
“I’ve never experienced Little 5 in any sense, so during practices I would get nervous, but then remember I have no frame of reference,” Carlson said. “During quals, though, just seeing them out there on the course with everyone, I knew they could do it.”
IUDM Cycling placed 18th out of 34 men’s teams with a time of 2:44.1 in the Qualifications Round on March 26. The team then placed 13th out of 32 men’s teams competing in Team Pursuit on April 9, notching a time of 10:45.68.
Out of the 148 bikers who competed in the individual competition, Gruwell placed 54th, Riley placed 80th and Polum placed 119th. The standout performance came from Troutman, who placed 15th with a time of 2:53.13.
IUDM’s tough practice schedule and discipline were evident after the success they saw in the earlier rounds of competition.
“Starting in January, we did indoor practices with the bike rollers four days a week,” Carlson said. “Once the weather got nicer and the track opened up, the team moved out there together to prepare to race with bikers from other teams racing next to them.”
Carlson knows the team’s preparation and drive will be the primary reasons for a positive finish in its Little 500 debut on Saturday.
“All of the bikers have individual goals, and we’ve been talking a lot lately about not crashing or getting any penalties,” Carlson said. “We’re gonna give it all we got, hope to finish in the top ten and have fun, always.”