A bike means more

Also contributed by: Lexi Berdine and Brianna Kirk

The release of a documentary featuring the Little 500 is approaching, this labor of love showcases the hidden love of Bloomington, Indiana: bicycles.

The average student on campus relies on a bike to maneuver their way to class. Fred Rose, owner of Bicycle Garage, Inc., gains a majority of his income from students in need of a bike.

“Most people travel by bike. It is the most efficient way of transportation,” Rose said.

However, to some students like Joey Leveille, the bike is a tool to stay in shape and analyze different methods of keeping someone motivated to stay fit. Leveille is a personal trainer, faced with the daily task of motivating people to remain healthy.

“There is definitely a huge perceptual side [to riding a bike]. It helps me think clearly,” Leveille said.

Although Leveille has never participated in the Little 500, he has seriously considered the event.

“I like the challenge of it,” Leveille said.

The challenge of a lifetime is not riding across campus in a personal record time. It is winning the Little 500. As a documentary film team follows four teams along their journey to the finish line of the Little 500, the bike becomes more than a material object. For members of a Little 500 cycling team, riding is everything and more.

“This race for the riders, if you don’t win, you lose,” documentary assistant and former rider for Delta Gamma Kirsten Powell said.

Hours and miles of riding a week builds an intensely competitive mindset for these riders. They push themselves as far as their bodies and minds will take them.

“You can’t give up because the team is still going,” Powell said.

Cycling teams will train from January up until the race in April. The Bloomington community and IU students rally together in the stands of Armstrong Stadium to watch the spectacle.

For riders, there is no prize. There is only the goal of riding across the finish line first.

“The only pay-off is the glory and the pride… It’s the purest form of sportsmanship left in college,” Powell said.

Since the start of the Little 500 in 1951, biking in Bloomington has held greater significance than just a pass time. It is the item of business success and a unique intramural activity.

“Every other school has been trying to mimic [the Little 500], but IU has the history,” documentary assistant Ryan Black said.

Aside from its’ history and riders’ passion for the event, the dynamics of the race itself are far more complicated than they appear.

“The sport is so much more complex than the audience can understand,” Black said.

With a 40 page rulebook ranging from topics regarding proper biking procedures within the race to Schwinn Bicycle specifications, the Little 500 takes more preparation and practice than Division 1 sports such as baseball or basketball.

“Bicycles are not revolutionary, they are evolutionary,” racing coach Tom Schwoegler said.

No matter what the motivation, bike riding is a staple in Bloomington, Indiana. Without a bike, multiple local businesses would have no revenue and students would have to sprint to class or fight for a seat on a crowded bus. More importantly, it would also take away the historic Little 500 race.

One student bikes his way across campus to class.

Journalism students at Ernie Pyle are no exception to the bike trend.

Bike Garage, Inc. is one of Bloomingonton’s main bike shops, found along Kirkwood Ave.

A student rides along Kirkwood Ave.

Bikes are stacked neatly beneath the shady coverage of trees.

One of the many diverse types of bicycles found on the IU campus.

Sigma Chi Fraternity House shows its support for Little 500

Fallen bikes are a common hazard among bike racks throughout campus.

Students park their bicycles next to a scenic bridge.


Tom Schwoegler tells little 500 story at indiana university

Schwoegler is in deep thought while trying to find the perfect answer to the question he was asked.

Also Contributed by: Brianna Kirk, McCoy Wegner, Mauricio Munoz, and Kaitlyn Valdez

Tom Schwoegler is not only a coach to his riders … he is a father figure. Despite the increase in gas prices from when Schwoegler first began his involvement with Indiana University’s Little 500 bike race, Schwoegler is still just as eager to make the commute from his home in Chicago to IU’s campus for frequent training.

Throughout his 47 year coaching journey, Schwoegler has claimed 6 victories, 8 of his bikers and himself have been inducted into the Little 500 Hall of Fame. From the death of one rider to the unexpected pregnancy of another, Schwoegler has gained much more than just trophies.

“I keep in touch with virtually all of my former riders … They’re like the kids I didn’t have,” Schwoegler said.

Schwoegler developed close-knit relationships with all of his riders while at IU, and he follows them into their adult lives. The Little 500 is not just a day in April. To Tom Schwoegler, it is an experience that engenders success after life at IU and provides riders and coaches with life long friends.

“I drove to one of my former rider’s house the other day,” Schwoegler said.

He enthusiastically made the long journey to a former rider’s home to deliver a new bike for her daughter’s 11th birthday. Schwoegler’s actions constantly demonstrate the love he has for his riders.

“I would take a bullet for them,” Schwoegler said.

The relationships that Schwoegler has developed with his riders over the years stem from a unique coaching strategy that has been compared to that of Bob Knight’s. Schwoegler demands that his riders to be confident, persistent, and prepared.

“The key is not the will to win … everybody has that. It’s the will to prepare to win that is important,” Schwoegler quoted Knight.

Schwoegler emphasizes that confidence in your hard work and preparation will lead to success. The will to prepare has led to various victories for Schwoegler’s teams in the Little 500. More importantly he believes that the skills developed by participating an event like the bike race gives participants the tools to succeed in life.

“In order to be good at something, you have to get out of your comfort zone,” explained Schwoegler.

After years of instilling confidence, commitment and dedication into each of his teams over his numerous years of coaching Schwoegler was inducted into the Little 500 Hall of Fame. Having been proud of his victories, he is more impressed by how his riders have fared after they left the grounds of IU.