Indeed, it is that week again, where students rouse from their academic comas and let loose in the most ridiculous ways they can imagine. Classes become sparsely attended and homework gets pushed to the wayside in order to celebrate a heralded tradition that dates back to 1951. As much as Little Five is about the partying there is also some bike races that happen as well.
The Little Five was first founded in 1951 by Howdy Wilcox Jr. He was inspired by the Indy 500 that his father raced in and won in 1919. Instead of an individual race a twist was thrown in with a relay style aspect. Every year since 33 teams from the student body converge on Bill Armstrong Stadium to run what turns out to be an often violent display of blood, sweat and tears.
Each qualifying team, a couple weeks ahead of the race, receive a single speed, coaster bicycle. All of these bikes are identical in make and model so that the playing field is completely even. Despite only receiving their bikes shortly before the race, teams train all year round for this one race. Most fraternities and sororities have a team that trains to compete and many of the independents get local businesses to sponsor their teams. Then the tires hit the road and training begins.
I can't count the times that I had friends in the middle of the winter when it is 20 degrees go out and jump on a bike and start riding. The training and pride taken up by racers in this event is borderline insane. But for anyone that has been around Bloomington or has seen the race understands the gravity of it all. The movie Breaking Away covers much of the suspense of Little Five very well. It means a lot for bragging rights every year.
Along with the race comes the week lead up that solidifies IU as a top 10 "holy crap this place is awesome" school in the nation. Several professors even schedule it so that their conferences match up with Little Five because they know that most classes that week will be a ghost town. So with all of that said if you're in Bloomington go out and enjoy this weekend. If you don't have anything to do, take a stroll around the block, you'll run into a party. Be safe and if you drink do it responsibly.