Feb 11, 2009

Musing of a Bloomington Boy

Submitted by Ren-Jay

February in Bloomington generally harbors unpredictable weather, timed perfectly with the beginning of the infamous Rookie Week for Little 500. Generally, the weather is most uncooperative during the five days that the IU Student Foundation sets for the aforementioned Rookie Week. However, there are some very nice days interspersed with these snowy, windy, most miserable of days. This past weekend was a prime example, with temperatures soaring into the 50s and even cresting 60 as the week began, with mixed periods of sun and clouds and only slightly annoying winds. The best part: no rain!
As a long-time resident (relatively speaking anyway…), I’ve experienced a broad range of winters, from snowy, cold ones with seemingly no end, to those where temperatures rarely dipped below 25 degrees. This one has been somewhere in between, and has presented its own unique challenges to the cyclists of the Bloomington area. Now that it is warm, I see more and more riders out enjoying the pleasant weather, sometimes dressed as if it was the middle of summer! Many of these riders are preparing for the Little 500, honing their fitness and just entering the highest intensity phases of their training. Looking ahead, race day for those who are fortunate enough to be a part of Little 500 is only 10 or so weeks away. As Little 5ers and other area cyclists take to the roads, there will undoubtedly be more buzz around town, especially as the road season begins and the Little 500 Spring Series events go on. Invariably, there will be previously unknown riders who come out of the woodwork to challenge those stars who have already established themselves. This is the essence of every cycling season.
Last year’s Little 500 saw young riders such as Stephen Quay of the Sigma Alpha Mu team as well as Nick Sovinski of the Phi Delta Theta team show that even though they were underclassmen, they were not afraid in the least to challenge such stars as Isaac Neff (Black Key Bulls) and Sasha Land (Cutters). The accomplishments of these two young riders in the Spring Series left many wondering if they would rally their teams behind them and make a run for the victory on race day. Alas, it was not to be, as the Cutters took their second straight (and record 9th overall) victory on an overcast, windy day. A perennially strong team, the Cutters will certainly seek to defend their title. The real interesting part comes when people challenge them. As you might expect, the million dollar question is, who will?
This author is neither audacious, nor courageous enough to make predictions as to who will win or make the top 5 or top 10, but I will be brave enough to say this: riders such as Quay and Sovinski will always exist, they will always come back hungrier, and they should never be counted out. Young, talented, and very motivated riders will always animate the race, whether out of arrogance, inexperience, sheer boldness, or sometimes all three. Old, grizzled veterans will try to shoot them down and show that they are still the top dog. The annual battle between these two at the event known as the Little 500 has produced arguably some of the greatest performances ever seen in Bloomington, and will continue to do so as long as the event still exists. So, as a Bloomington native, Little 500 rider, and ardent cycling fan, I encourage you to attend, participate, volunteer, or otherwise get involved with the Little 500. And most importantly: expect great things from it.
-Ren-Jay Shei

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