About the Race

The history of the Little 500 and everything you need to know ahead of race day

The Little 500 — or Little Five for short — will take place from April 21-22, with the 35th running of the women's race at 4 p.m. Friday and the 72nd running of the men's race at 2 p.m. Saturday. Both races will take place at Bill Armstrong Stadium.

The event is the largest collegiate bicycle race in the U.S. and attracts over 25,000 people every year to Bloomington. The event includes four-person teams, with 33 teams in the men’s race, which is 200 laps long — running a 50-mile distance — and 27 teams in the women’s race, which is 100 laps.

Now, all that is left is picking a team to root for and enjoy ‘The World’s Greatest College Weekend’.


Terms to know

Bike Each team receives two bikes from the IU Student Foundation for race day. The Schwinn bikes are a single speed, coaster brake, 700c wheeled bike and are not allowed to have any modifications.
Exchange Teams have to switch riders 10 times during the men’s race and five times during the women’s race. Teams can exchange riders using one bike or a full-bike exchange using two bikes.
Pole The team that starts the race in first place.
Pits Selected in order of qualification, each team will have their own pit to set up in. When completing an exchange, the rider getting off the bike must stop by the end of the next pit or receive a penalty.
Flags There are seven flags used throughout the race: green, yellow, red, white, checkered, black (ride on outside of the track) and blue with an orange stripe (bicycle attempting to pass).
Pack A group of riders together, usually including the teams near the lead.
Draft A rider will line up behind another biker, reducing air resistance and allowing the rider to draft — putting in less effort to maintain a speed.
Sprinter A team’s fastest rider in short bursts, who will often be tasked with the last lap or two in order to finish the race.
Burn In preparation for an exchange, the current rider will sprint to separate from the pack before they exchange, “burning” their remaining energy.
Marking When a team begins a burn, a second team will mark them to pressure them into an exchange, to prevent the burning team from faking and creating a lead.
Set A period of laps a rider spends on the bike before exchanging. Riders with more stamina may ride longer sets, while sprinters will ride shorter and faster sets.
Lapped traffic Once a team is off the lead lap, they will be directed to the outside of the track as the pack passes them to avoid interfering with the leaders.
Yellow jersey The winning team from the year before wears a yellow jersey on race day. Last year’s winners were Jetblach for the men’s and Delta Gamma for the women’s.
Spring Series A series of four events in the weeks leading up to the race that involve all the riders, including Qualifications, Individual Time Trials, Miss-N-Out and Team Pursuit. The overall winning team of the Spring Series gets to wear a white bike jersey on race day.
Qualifications Also known as Quals, a team gets four laps to set a fastest time and qualify within the 33-man Little 500 field. The fastest team qualifies on the pole and receives a green jersey to wear on race day.
Individual Time Trials ITTs are also a four-lap event, but are completed individually. Four riders compete at the same time, starting in each corner of the track, to complete four laps first.
Miss N Out Starting in heats of five to eight, the last place rider is eliminated every lap until three riders remain. The three advance to the next round until the final heat of eight. Once three riders are left on the last heat, they begin a one-lap sprint to determine the winner.
Team Pursuit Two teams of four start on opposite ends of the track and chase each other down in a pace line for 15 laps. The teams are timed based on the third rider to cross the finish line. The two fastest teams compete to determine the winner.
“Breaking Away” The 1979 movie about the Little 500 won an Academy Award for best original screenplay. The race team Cutters, who won in 2018 and 2019 and has the most wins in the men’s race with 14, was named after the movie.

Like what you're reading?
Support independent, award-winning student journalism. Donate.

© 2022 Indiana Daily Student

Back to idsnews.com or top of page