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April 26, 2006

"HOLY CRAPOLA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

That was the subject of Tim's e-mail. He'd just learned that Indiana University's Little 500, an annual bicycle relay race, was happening the day before our race near Indianapolis.

Ever since it was featured in "Breaking Away," a movie that is to cyclists what "Rocky" is to boxers and "Richard III" is to hunchbacked monarchs, the Little 500 has been a touchstone for the Lycra set.

To see the race firsthand, we'd have to leave at the crack of dawn. There never was any question that we would.

Until we missed the turn to I-65.

We had seemed to have been heading east for an unsually long period of time. "You know where we're going, right?" I asked our driver.

"Sure," he said. "Indianapolis!"

About 30 minutes later we hit South Bend and realized we did not in fact know where we were going. Around the same time we discovered that Indiana was in the Eastern time zone, not the Central. Also, our car started spewing smoke.

So we didn't get to Bloomington until 100 of the Little 500's 200 laps had already been ridden. By this time Alpha Tau Omega had long ago lapped the field and was on its way to an easy victory, and the crowd-favorite Cutters were fading from contention.

The race is primarily an excuse for college students to drink while their fraternity brothers go 'round and 'round a dirt track. Normally the only Greek system I support involves olive oil, oregano and handfuls of garlic, but I still found the Little 500 pretty awesome. I felt like I was in a Bizarro world, one in which cycling is cool, thousands of people pay $15 to watch an amateur race and buxom co-eds announce their favorite cycling clubs across their ample chests. Priorities were in order.

I don't think I would like to live in this world, but it was nice to visit.

Photo taken: April 22, 2006