Every Great Journey Begins With A Single Step. And That Step Was Taken 25 Years Ago Today.
On October 7th, 1987, the IU Student Foundation announced the formation of the Women’s Little 500 Bicycle Race. Prior to this decision, Lee Ann Guzek and Martha Hinkamp, the two returning riders from the Kappa Alpha Theta team who had attempted to enter the men’s race in 1987, had decided that instead of taking another shot at the men’s race in 1988, they would put their efforts into creating a Women’s event. After many years of the IUSF dismissing such an idea, the two women found receptive ears in IUSF Director Rita Erickson and Asst. Director Spiro Polus.
The task ahead was daunting, in addition to class, studying, and training they made 5-night a week pilgrimages to sororities, dorms and apartments, presenting the idea, to anyone they could find. They asserted that the time had come to for women to have their own race. Michelle Brundick, a member of the 1988 Theta team recalled: “Lee Ann & Martha were either training, in class, or out talking to prospective riders, to this day I'm not sure when they found the time to study or even sleep.”
On November 12th, Lee Ann, a senior, was appointed as the first president of the first Women's Rider’s Council. The other members were, Sandy Miller - VP, Martha Hinkamp, Jill Janov, Chris Emde, Kim Hunt, Liz Shofer, Chris Sotak, Suzi Bostwick, and Lisa McCallum. Lee Ann and Martha were the only two members that had experience in pack riding, exchanges, rollers, basic maintenance and bike handling skills as they applied to Little 500. They had to focus on these critical elements with their fellow Rider's Council members. In turn, Rider’s Council rolled out this information to the rest of the women's riders. At the end of qualifications, the field stood at 32 teams and on race day 31 teams took the track, the 32nd team loosing a team member and dropping out. However, they did participate in the rider’s parade on race day.
Those 31 teams set the stage for an event, now in its 25th year, has impacted over 2000 riders and tens of thousands of fans in an event that knows no equal. It has challenged, encouraged and, most of all, inspired. This unparalleled event has compelled women at Indiana University to navigate a road less traveled. And in the end these remarkable women have been with rewarded with increased confidence, priceless memories and lifetime friendships: Every one of them ultimately serving as incredible inspiration to each subsequent generation of Little 500 participants; both female as well as male.
Let’s all of us make this date and the coming year, a celebration of the women who, for 25 years, have never failed to show us what grace under pressure is all about.
5 days ago