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11th May 2012Posted in: Blog 1
Little 500 2012 Recap

From Rookie Week to Riders Week, this semester has been the best experience of my undergraduate career thus far. In this recap I will try to verbalize the growth that has taken place individually, as a team, and in our chapter as a whole. After riding in my first Little 500 I can now relate to what Brother Doug Glenn told me on the infield on race day: “April will never pass without feeling a longing to return to Bloomington.”

FRIDAY

We successfully avoided the excess of all sorts that took place throughout the week and maintained our focus on the finish line. With that mentality, our team headed out Friday afternoon for a nice 20-mile loop that included some relaxing climbs and sprint openers to make sure our legs were in perfect form. Afterwards, our team headed to the nearby home of Nana Lu Chamness, a great Friend of Beta. She graciously opened her home to our team for a relaxing meal and a night of rest before the race. Her son, Chuck ’84 and grandson, Charlie ’15, are both Pi Chapter Betas with great Hoosier spirit as evidenced through their commitment to Indiana University Student Foundation. Nana Lu was in especially high spirits after her sorority, Delta Gamma, took the win on Friday night in the 25th Running of the Women’s Little 500. Chef Tom Laser prepared another one of his great Italian dinners and we enjoyed the company of coaches John Grant ’03, Erik Kiser, ’10, and Mike Rubin ’03 until heading to bed.

SATURDAY

Race day—we woke up feeling well rested and excited for what lay ahead. Returning to the Beta house we donned our race day attire and mounted our road bikes for an extremely chill spin down Cascades. Our support team was ready and waiting at the track with all necessary equipment, food, etc. As the fans started to fill the stands and I felt the hard packed cinder underfoot, I knew today would be a great day of racing. The recap below is split into 50-lap segments, as that’s how we approached the race.

LAPS 0-50

Green threw down a solid first lap, stringing out the pack from the get-go to ensure we’d stay out of any early wrecks. The pace was hot for the first few laps, and eventually the pre-race jitters caused a huge pile-up in turn 1 which we were lucky enough to avoid. The 5-time defending champion Cutters had gone down, so several of the contenders decided to up the tempo, but we were more worried about serving our 2-second penalty than dropping them. Green gave Laser a solid burn, and within a few laps Laser was off in the penalty box. He chased hard, catching back up to the pack, then got Anderson on the bike to get us back to the front. Anderson rode a nice set, putting me on the bike for my first laps of the Little 500. I got to the front, was trading pulls, and just felt all-around good on the bike. The months of practicing for this moment paid off, and I was able to give Green the bike with a nice gap.

LAPS 50-100

Not much really happened here. We rode near the front, chased burns to try and put some pressure on our competitors, and were able to avoid some of the crashes that occurred. After a crash on Lap 52 there were just 9 teams left on the lead lap. By Lap 100, the clock showed 1:06:35, indicating a relatively slow race, even factoring in the 4 yellow flags that had come out.

LAPS 100-150

The same 9 teams from Lap 52 were all still there at Lap 103. An unfortunate crash took down our good friends Acacia on Lap 107, and it was down to 8. At some point Sigma Chi had popped off the back, and on the yellow that followed the Acacia crash they were assessed a 10-second penalty for creeping. To give you an idea of how slow the pace was, they were able to catch back up in less than 5 laps after serving their penalty.

Going into the race we weren’t sure who we were going to put on the bike at the end, but after a few big sets from my teammates it was decided that, if it came down to a sprint, I was going to be in charge. It was down to 7 teams at Lap 150, and we knew that it was time to start throwing down our cards.

LAPS 150-200

Crossing the start/finish line it was Sigma Chi, us, Theta Chi, Phi Delt, Delts, Cutters, and BKB. At this point we knew if we kept our exchanges clean, stuck to our strategy, and avoided any mishaps, we’d have a chance. We also decided long before the race that we’d rather kill ourselves trying to make a move than settle for 3rd or 4th place. When this happened on Lap 174, it was showtime.

Laser narrowly avoids being crashed out by Kevin Depasse from the Cutters

How Laser avoided that wreck is still a small miracle, but Cutters, BKB, and Theta Chi had all gone down. That left 4 fraternity teams in the lead, and we started drilling it, along with Phi Delt, to try and break away. Phi Delt went in for the exchange on 181, and Anderson threw down a hot lap to get me on the bike. Unfortunately I slipped off the pedals, and Phi Delt+Delts were able to catch us. After 181 laps of sitting in, Delts was then able to sneak off the front.

We spent the remaining laps doing all-out 3 and 4-lap efforts, working with Phi Delt to try and catch up to Delts. Sigma Chi, the Cutters, and Theta Chi were able to join our TT, but when ITT champion RJ Stuart got on the bike at 188 with a 5 second gap, he just took off. Anderson got on the bike for another all-out set, but disaster struck on 192 when he got tangled up with a Theta Chi rider coming out of turn 4. Green was able to get to the site of the crash almost immediately, but with the race at a blistering pace we found ourselves a lap down almost instantly. We rode hard for the last few laps, but the crash all but sealed our 7th place finish.

POST RACE

And with the 200th lap scored my rookie season came to a close. What a wild ride it’s been; no pun intended. In early celebration of Anderson’s 22nd birthday, our team and our families joined in celebration at Scholar’s Inn Café and Wine Bar where, despite finishing 7th, we were treated like champions. I’m so glad that my parents were able to witness such an event and share the excitement that I have for the Little 500.

Looking forward to this summer, my goal is to maintain a base level of fitness on the bike in between working at JP Morgan during the week. Anderson has a job with ExactTarget in Indianapolis, but with over 30 races on his calendar and ambitions to upgrade to a Category 2 cyclist, he’s keeping us all motivated—especially Green who will be training hard in the Indianapolis area (alongside Anderson). Since Laser and I both live in Hinsdale we will likely be pushing each other on hard road rides in between racing as weekend warriors.  Our rookies Chris Craig and Jacob Gorgol will be racing as well, and hopefully some new guys will be joining us as well. In the very near future, Anderson, Kiser and myself will take on the Monsters of the Midway Crit this Saturday where I’m looking for my first victory as a Cat 4.

In conclusion, thank you to all that have supported us in every way. I’m proud of the progress our team has made with regards to our trust in one another’s abilities, our Beta spirit, and the alumni excitement we were able to generate. It has been a great honor to compete with the letters of Beta Theta Pi on my back and I hope to help the next generation of Beta riders find their place on the Little 500 track as I have. Next year I will redouble my efforts to make the most of my last year as an IU student. Expect great things from our team and our chapter. GO BETA!

in _kai_
William C. Kragie
-2770-

P.S. You can watch the race in its entirety HERE 

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