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The World's Greatest College Weekend

Written by Erik Flynn on April 19th, 2012 with

If college is supposed to be the best four years of your life, what does that make the Little 500, which claims to be the “World’s Greatest College Weekend”?   The “Little Five” is an annual bike race for the Indiana University Student Foundation consisting of 33 teams of four, representing fraternities or sororities, student organizations, or non-sponsored teams put together by students. Non-Greek competitors don the title of “Cutters”, taking the name of the local racers dramatized in the 1979 film Breaking Away.

The race takes place at Bill Armstrong Stadium in Bloomington on a quarter mile cinder track, modeled after the Indianapolis 500. It began in 1951, founded by Howdy Wilcox Jr., the executive director of the IUSF, who wanted to model the race after the Indy 500, which his father won in 1919.

For 50 miles, racers ride relay style on special bikes without toe clips, kick stands, water bottles, air pumps, untapped or unplugged handlebars, or any other accessory, all on a single-speed bike.

However, the race is only the climax to this amazing college weekend; benefit concerts begin mid-week. Performers have included local star John Mellenkamp, along with Ludacris and Lil Wayne.   Foot races, other smaller bike races, and the women’s race, all lead up to Saturday’s main event.

An estimated 25,000 people attend the Little Five, including thousands of current Indiana students, plenty of alumni, and students of dozens of other colleges looking for a great road trip weekend. Supporters of different teams fill the stadium donning their team’s colors or Greek letters, and the race begins.

All money raised by the event goes to the IUSF scholarship fund, so even more students can attend what cycling great Lance Armstrong called “the coolest event [he’s] ever attended”.

Erik Flynn

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