Excitement and nerves continue to grow as riders inch closer to Little 500 weekend on April 21-22. Women’s riders spoke to the media on April 4 about the challenges and highlights of this year’s Little 500 season, as well as what they’re looking forward to come race day.
The weeks leading up to Little 500, which consist of time trials and training, are new to many. Many cyclists are performing in their first or second Little 500 after the event was cancelled in 2020 and held without fans in 2021 due to COVID-19.
However, these newcomers are embracing the new challenges as they come along. Many cyclists are able to handle the rigorous preparation process because of the special chemistry between team members.
Alpha Gamma Delta sophomore Annie Surrette, junior Izzy Blazey and freshman Sophia Boller talked about the difficult, but rewarding experience they had with their teammates.
“We did our rookie week together, and we didn’t know each other at all,” Surrette said. “It was so cold and miserable, and we all learned how to jump on bikes, but we bonded really fast.”
Blazey echoed a similar sentiment when asked about the grueling training.
“It’s honestly worth it with how much excitement it brings up and how much dedication we put into it,” she said.
Boller talked about how special her teammates are, saying she has become best friends with them in just two months.
Alpha Omicron Pi sophomore Katie Shinn said it was special to have such a tight knit group as the season has gone along. They have a very young team that only consists of sophomores and freshman, but they came together in a short time.
“We were blessed because our team was close already. We started off as friends, and now we’re transitioning to teammates,” Shin said. “We spent spring break together and we train, so I’m glad we all get along.”
Shin talked about the adversity the team has faced after losing their senior leader and having to take a leadership role after one year of experience as a freshman along with her teammate, sophomore Olivia Anderson. Shin said the adjustment was difficult, and she’s still learning to find her voice as a leader.
Another challenge for the newcomers is the notorious Little 500 crowd that is expected to come in full force this year. Many of the riders haven’t experienced an atmosphere at this level.
“It’s very exciting, but also a lot of adapting,” Alpha Omicron Pi sophomore Cate Munn said. “Me and (rookie teammate) Ella played high school sports that were competitive, but it’s definitely going to be different.”
The heightened excitement can also give riders the extra boost they need to be successful. Alpha Gamma Delta junior Audra Kaczmarek said that she enjoyed getting her sorority house excited for qualifiers.
Sophomore teammate Alexa Spahr said the strong support led to the team performing better than they expected, and she’s excited to see what the Little 500 crowd brings.
“When you’re at the track training, it’s fun because you have your teammates, but it’s nothing like the crowd that comes for race day.” Spahr said.