The Little 500 is a bicycle race that is held each April at Indiana University. Like its namesake, the Indy 500, 33 teams begin the race. Whereas the Indy 500 consists of 200 laps on a 2-1/2 mile track for a total of 500 miles, the Little 500 consists of 200 laps on a 1/4 mile track for a total of 50 miles. Each team has four riders who ride in rotation, and there must be at least 10 changes of riders during the race. The riders are all IU undergraduates, and are associated with a fraternity or dormitory. Our son Colin, rode for his professional fraternity Delta Sigma Pi at the IU Business School, and we traveled to see the race. We were joined by Colin's Grandmother and his uncle Tom and aunt Chris. Family friends Paul and Nancy from Telluride stopped by for the festivities on their way home from a short trip.

The Delta Sig team qualified 10th fastest and intended to finish in one of the top 10 places. The bicycles are all identical and have only one gear. This makes for a very competitive race with everyone pedaling at a very high cadence throughout.

Colin and the other racers are preparing for the warm-up laps and pace lap. The Delta Sig team wore fluorescent pink jerseys. Qualifying 10th, they started on the inside of the fourth row. Notice the rider wearing the purple jersey in the middle of the row ahead of Colin. We'll see him again later.

They're off to a flying start!

A second later, they head into the first turn of the first lap.

Just moments after this picture was taken, the rider near the front in the blue jersey slipped and fell with everyone behind him going full tilt. The accident took down 27 of the 33 teams. Everyone got back up and continued riding, but Colin lost precious seconds finding his bike, because the number, its only unique feature, had broken off. The following panel of photos was taken by photographer Mark Zalewski who was in the infield, and they appear at Cycling News along with other photos, mostly of the race leaders, and a written account of the race.

all six photos © Mark Zalewski

Colin finished his first set of laps and his teammates each had their turn. The track was crowded and slippery, but they avoided the next few crashes, and then they all rode their second rotation.





When Colin went back out for his third set, he completed only 2 laps before stopping in great pain. He went to the Medical Tent, and when he left, he had been told that he had a broken wrist which they had taped tightly for him. Despite the tape, he couldn't ride normally without pain, and he sat out many laps as his teammates cycled on without his help.

Each team has two bikes, and they change riders frequently.
The Delta Sig pit is at the far end of the track where Colin
is aborting his third set of laps, and Kelly takes over.

Kelly overtakes a slower rider on the front straightaway.

Avi and another rider take the pack into corner #1.

Later in the race, Colin started riding again despite his injury. Additional crashes created this large pack of riders that slowed down the pace and made advancing difficult.

Dan works his way through traffic.

Kelly also survived a crash when racers tangled and went down ahead of him.
But he recovered and rode aggressively in spite of it.

Colin fights with the race leaders despite his injury. He held his own with many of the other riders, but his broken wrist prevented him from shifting his weight onto the handlebars in order to let his legs work normally. That kept him from passing the faster ones to improve his team's standing. (Note his taped-up left wrist.)

Avi and Dan check the scoreboard at the end of the track.

Avi and Colin talk with their many fraternity brothers and sisters
who came to watch the race and cheer them on.

The crashes prevented the Delta Sig team from finishing in the top 10 as they had planned, but they managed a 21st place finish, in spite of all the adversities.

Paul, Nancy, Chris, Grandma, Colin and Regina talking about the race and Colin's hand.

After taking all the bikes and other equipment home, Colin cleaned and bandaged his wounds. Then the family and Colin's team went to dinner. During dinner, Colin's hand became badly swollen badly and more painful. Removing some of the tight tape helped a little, but the situation grew worse. Immediately after dinner, at about 10 o'clock, we headed for the hospital to get some attention for the hand.

It was a busy night in the ER. Here Colin exchanges war stories with another of the Little 500 riders while waiting for his examination. The other rider is the one wearing the purple jersey who we saw ahead and to the right of Colin just before the pile up at the start.

The Little 500 weekend is major campus celebration. The race itself usually produces numerous customers for the ER, and the non-riding revelers also contribute to a very busy weekend for them.

By 2am, Colin had worked his way through the ER. X-rays showed a clear fracture to the scaphoid bone in his left hand (not his wrist as the first diagnosis had it). He had gotten a splint applied to tide him over until the swelling subsides and a rigid cast could be applied.