Quals Kicks Off Little 500 Season

Quals Kicks Off Little 500 Season

Five riders discuss Little 500 preparation, challenges and being part of their teams.

Madison Borgmann played competitive sports in high school. During her sophomore year at IU, she joined a new team - Delta Gamma Cycling.

"It was nice to be on a team again," she said.

Borgmann, now a senior, is riding in her third Little 500 race this year. For her, and so many Little 500 riders, biking is a hobby, a passion. Training takes place year-round, but these days her team is focused on being comfortable on the track, working on sprints, distance and exchanges.

"That's usually what this time of year is meant for," she said.

During the week leading up to qualification day on March 26, smooth and fast bike exchanges on the track were a major focus for Sigma Delta Tau, team member Kelsey Bardach said. Although Bardach trained for Little 500 last year, this year will be her first riding in the race."I thought it was such a cool opportunity when my sorority presented it to us as new members," she said. "I knew I wanted to be able to represent my chapter in such a unique event."

The 2016 Sigma Delta Tau Little 500 team. Photo courtesy of Kelsey Bardach.

SDT finished 30th last year and qualified 32nd for this year's race.

Shay Britzke, a rookie member of the Cru Little 500 team, said her training off the track includes riding on rollers, cross-training and doing ab workouts. With a strengthened core, she said, it's easier to stay steady on the bike.

Track practice begins with a few warm-up laps. Afterward, Britzke said she and her team say a quick prayer - a prayer for safety and good communication, for their team and for the others. Cru is a Christian ministry on campus; a verse from the book of Hebrews is printed on the riders' jerseys.

"We are riding not only for our own glory but for the glory of God," she said.

Just four years after having its first women's team, Cru finished third in the 2015 race. This year, the team qualified 12th.
The 2016 Cru Cycling team. Photo courtesy of Shay Britzke.

Britzke said preparing for Little 500 also means eating smart. She eats iron and protein-rich foods like spinach, eggs, pesto and chicken, as well as plenty of fruits, vegetables and Cliff bars. Foods like these, she said, allow her to perform at her best and benefit the team.

"It's really not that difficult to fuel my body in that way," she said. "It's just something I know needs to be done."

Daniel Koch of Phi Kappa Sigma said he also eats a lot of protein and cuts back on the sugar and desserts.

"I personally do a lot of peanut butter," he said.

Bardach said she simply tries to eat healthy as much as possible.

"But in my eyes, that's just not eating ice cream as much!" she said.

For James Welch of Gray Goat Cycling, the most challenging part of Little 500 is finding the time and motivation to train, especially in the winter. During that time of year, Welch said his training involves indoor interval workouts and weightlifting.

"Riding inside every day is not the most enjoyable," he said.

Another challenge for an independent team, Welch said, is finding recruits. Gray Goat began in 2008 when a group of men who worked at Gray Goat Sports in Indianapolis decided to form their own Little 500 team. Welch said the team once recruited a member at a Steak N' Shake at 2 a.m. after talking with someone interested in riding bikes.

Gray Goat finished 12th in the 2015 race and qualified sixth for 2016. Welch said the team's goal was first to get into the race, then put in the work to win.

"That’s the goal for everyone I think, he said, "to get the win at the end of the day."

Gray Goat cycling during an exchange in the 2014 men's Little 500 race. Photo courtesy of James Welch.

Delta Gamma finished fifth last year and qualified third for the 2016 race. Borgmann said all of the riders are returners, so now training is just a matter of tightening up loose ends.

"It's not as scary and new," she said.

Borgmann said her favorite part of Little 500 is the camaraderie of her team.

"They're my four best friends, and I wouldn't have met them without Little Five," she said.

Koch said his favorite part of Little 500 is race day, when people are finally in Bill Armstrong Stadium, screaming and chanting for their riders. Phi Kappa Sigma, also known as Skulls, finished ninth last year - the team's first-ever top 10 finish - and qualified 20th this year.

Koch said Quals is especially crazy - it's hectic, and riders can feel the nerves when they walk up to begin their qualifying four-lap sprint, no matter what time of the day they go.

But coming out of turn four and seeing the crowd cheering on your organization, Koch said, is a "one-of-a-kind experience."

"It's just really cool to have people see what you’ve been working on so long," he said of race day. "It’s the most exhilarating feeling I've had, at least in my college experience."

Full Little 500 2016 qualification results can be found on the IUSF website.

Good luck riders!

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Cover Image Credit: James Welch

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8 Reasons Why My Dad Is the Most Important Man In My Life

Forever my number one guy.

Growing up, there's been one consistent man I can always count on, my father. In any aspect of my life, my dad has always been there, showing me unconditional love and respect every day. No matter what, I know that my dad will always be the most important man in my life for many reasons.

1. He has always been there.

Literally. From the day I was born until today, I have never not been able to count on my dad to be there for me, uplift me and be the best dad he can be.

2. He learned to adapt and suffer through girly trends to make me happy.

I'm sure when my dad was younger and pictured his future, he didn't think about the Barbie pretend pageants, dressing up as a princess, perfecting my pigtails and enduring other countless girly events. My dad never turned me down when I wanted to play a game, no matter what and was always willing to help me pick out cute outfits and do my hair before preschool.

3. He sends the cutest texts.

Random text messages since I have gotten my own cell phone have always come my way from my dad. Those randoms "I love you so much" and "I am so proud of you" never fail to make me smile, and I can always count on my dad for an adorable text message when I'm feeling down.

4. He taught me how to be brave.

When I needed to learn how to swim, he threw me in the pool. When I needed to learn how to ride a bike, he went alongside me and made sure I didn't fall too badly. When I needed to learn how to drive, he was there next to me, making sure I didn't crash.

5. He encourages me to best the best I can be.

My dad sees the best in me, no matter how much I fail. He's always there to support me and turn my failures into successes. He can sit on the phone with me for hours, talking future career stuff and listening to me lay out my future plans and goals. He wants the absolute best for me, and no is never an option, he is always willing to do whatever it takes to get me where I need to be.

6. He gets sentimental way too often, but it's cute.

Whether you're sitting down at the kitchen table, reminiscing about your childhood, or that one song comes on that your dad insists you will dance to together on your wedding day, your dad's emotions often come out in the cutest possible way, forever reminding you how loved you are.

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Need to vent about a guy in your life that isn't treating you well? My dad is there. Need some extra cash to help fund spring break? He's there for that, too.

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Yes, my dad treats me like a princess, and I don't expect every guy I meet to wait on me hand and foot, but I do expect respect, and that's exactly what my dad showed I deserve. From the way he loves, admires, and respects me, he shows me that there are guys out there who will one day come along and treat me like that. My dad always advises me to not put up with less than I deserve and assures me that the right guy will come along one day.

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The Top 3 Lifestyle Changes I Made In College

The mistakes I corrected which stood between me and satisfaction.


2019 has been a year of unparalleled growth for me. In 2018 I could have said the same. I spent extended periods of time analyzing the factors of my life which left me, in some ways, feeling unfulfilled. Here are the top 3 lifestyle changes that I made in college which left me feeling happier than ever.

1. Cut out the toxic people. 

A house is worthless without a solid foundation. The people which you call your friends are largely the foundation for your confidence and social life. Sometimes, we recognize that these people are overall anchors on our psyche; condescending narcissists whose confidence rests on making others feel inadequate. The first step to building self-confidence is to get these people out of your life immediately. Once you solidify this foundation, you will soon realize how pitiful these people are, and growth you had been capable of without them.

2. Do you even lift?

Not only has my physical condition improved from going to the gym, so has my mental strength. As my physical form has improved, my confidence has risen. We have spent millions of years evolving to physically exert ourselves. Our modern lifestyle has left many of us without this crucial key to endorphins and proper brain chemistry; a factor which has promoted never before seen rates of depression and anxiety. Lifting weights have left me feeling better than I can remember, with endorphins and testosterone at an all-time high.

For years, I either avoided the gym or found excuses to stop. The reason I never committed to fitness was largely a lack of interest in self-betterment, but also a feeling of cluelessness in the subject. I recommend utilizing the "Beginner's Health and Fitness Guide" linked here. This guide breaks down fitness in an incredibly easy to understand way. This information is not published by someone trying to sell you something. It was written by input from numerous online fitness enthusiasts and refined for accuracy as well as simplicity. This guide has helped me and many others in online communities start down the road to improved physical and mental health through fitness.

3. Do as much as possible, even when you don't feel like it. 

I squandered years of my short life secluding myself to a comfort bubble. While in college, I have realized that happiness largely rests on occupying yourself with new and real experiences as frequently as possible. Time which would have previously been wasted on my phone, the television, or playing online games was shifted to trying new things. As often as possible, I have pushed myself to undertake activities such as learning to snowboard, grabbing food with people from college whom I had just met, going hiking with strangers and our mutual friend, traveling solo, etc. Pushing myself further from my comfort bubble every day has been exceptionally conducive to not only living life to a greater degree but also decreasing the anxieties which we all experience.

What can you fix in your current life to build the lifestyle you dream of?

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