Say you’re at the track and just realized that you don’t know anyone racing. Not a problem, just cheer for one of the favorites and look smart when they bring home the Borg-Warner Trophy. Here, on the heels of our list of first-timers’ do’s and don’ts, see our primer on the top riders to regard this weekend at the Little 500 bike races in Bloomington:
Now in its 26th running, the women’s race is getting especially hard to call. You’d be hard-pressed to find better teams than the top five qualifying teams, in order, of Kappa Kappa Gamma, Wing It Cycling, Kappa Alpha Theta, returning champions Delta Gamma, and the ever-present Teter, who will be wearing white on race day, that distinction earned by these Spring Series champions. They’ve all looked fast in the Spring Series events, especially Kayce Doogs of DG and Emma Caughlin and Lisa Hutcheson of Teter. All three are seniors and past champions; they simply know what it takes to cross the checkered flag first. But as with any Little 5, it can all be upended by a single crash or a poor exchange. Look for RideOn and Kappa Delta to be on the lead lap, ready to pounce on any mistakes.
The men’s race on Saturday has more clear-cut favorites, with returning champions Delta Tau Delta and perennial favorites Cutters (who earned the coveted white jersey) looking extremely fast. Cutters rider Kevin Depasse nearly swept the Spring Series events and is hungry to return to glory after a crash in Turn 3 late in last year’s race kept him from the top of the podium. But DTD and Cutters will be starting in rows 5 and 4, respectively, further back than they’d prefer. It was Beta Theta Pi that took the pole with a blistering 2:21.295 at qualifications.
Always-the-bridesmaid Black Key Bulls qualified second, just 0.297 of a second slower than the Betas. Senior BKB rider Dan Kinn has had himself a great spring, putting his team in contention for their first-ever championship. Look for them on race day in black jerseys (of course). CSF Cycling will try to settle into the spoiler roll after qualifying third. If they can stay on the lead lap, CSF might have a chance to sprint out a victory.
During these races, don’t forget to smile and wave to the camera, as the One Day in April crew will be out in full force to film all weekend.
NOTES & MISCELLANY
Women’s race will start at 4 p.m. on Friday, April 19
Men’s race will start at 2 p.m. on Saturday, April 20
Tickets: $25 adults, $10 children 10 and under. The ticket office is at the front gate. Come early; lines will be long.
Park in the Assembly Hall parking lot and walk up to the track.
IU alum Mark Cuban’s www.ASX.tv will air both the men’s and women’s races live for those who can’t make it this year.
I’ll be live-tweeting both races when I can from @DrIndianaJon
Top photo by Adam P Schweigert/WFIU