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Iconic Little 500 bicycle race adds a new element: Virtual racing

For Immediate Release May 5, 2021
An screenshot of cyclists on a country road in a virtual bike race
IU’s virtual Little 500 race will be open to everyone.Photo courtesy of Echelon Racing Promotions.

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – While teams of IU Bloomington students will race around the quarter-mile cinder track at Bill Armstrong Stadium on May 26 in Indiana University’s iconic Little 500 race, everyone off the track has an option to participate as well. This year, the IU Student Foundation, in partnership with Echelon Racing and The Media School at IU, will offer a virtual Little 500 race.

“We’re excited to bring the tradition of Little 500 to a wider audience with this new virtual option,” said Andrea Balzano, director of the IU Student Foundation. “If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to ride around Bloomington, now you can. It’s also a great option for our alumni to relive their Little 500 experience.”

The virtual Little 500 Series will take place over two days with a 20-lap time trial at 10 a.m. May 22 and then women’s and men’s races May 23. To participate in the virtual race, riders will need to register by 5 p.m. May 20 and will need to have a bike; a smart trainer, Bluetooth-enabled power meter or Bluetooth-enabled speed and cadence sensor; a mobile device; and a tablet or computer. Echelon Racing Promotions will provide additional guidelines for testing riders’ set-up, practice and event participation.

Registered riders can participate in optional practice rides, which are 20- and 30-mile training routes. The optional 20-lap time trial will be 5 total miles: 20 laps around a quarter-mile track. During the virtual race itself, riders will have a video-game-like experience, with each rider having an avatar that will appear on screen and move the rider along based on how they’re performing in the race compared to other riders.

“Our virtual race will be a road race on a classic 45-mile loop around Bloomington through the Morgan-Monroe State Forest,” Balzano said. “Riders will be able to view southern Indiana scenery and see all the other riders’ avatars moving along the route with them. All of our registered riders will be entered into a raffle, and we’ll choose two winners following the race who will each win an official Little 500 bicycle.”

Along with the professionals at Echelon Racing Promotions, students from The Media School will be involved in making the virtual Little 500 race a reality.

“The Media School has enjoyed our partnership with the IU Student Foundation and the Little 500 over the last several years, and we are excited to be involved with the virtual race,” said Galen Clavio, head of the Sports Media Program at Indiana University Bloomington. “As we have done with our coverage of the traditional races, our students will be involved in broadcasting the virtual race, as well as creating video packages and conducting interviews with riders.”

In addition to their work on the virtual race, Media School students will continue to be involved in production of the in-person Little 500 race May 26. Both the virtual race and in-person Little 500 will be broadcast live online through

About IU Student Foundation

The Indiana University Student Foundation is the student-programming arm of the Indiana University Foundation, a nonprofit organization established to raise funds for Indiana University and its students. IU Student Foundation aids in the fundraising efforts of the IU Foundation while also cultivating participation in leadership-development activities and programming by its undergraduate members. The mission of the IU Student Foundation is to grow lifetime commitment to and support for Indiana University through student-led programming and leadership development opportunities that are educational, philanthropic and fun.

About Echelon Racing Promotions

Echelon Racing Promotions is a division of the veterans’ nonprofit organization Project Echelon. Through physical activity and connection, they work with military veterans suffering from PTSD and traumatic brain injuries. The Echelon Racing League is the first of its kind and is in a league of its own. Serving as a conduit to strengthen the overall cycling community, the league brings virtual and in-real-life riders and racers together to ride on real roads. Furthermore, the league has been designed to enhance the reach, influence, impact and connectedness of riders, teams, race promoters and international governing bodies as a means to grow the sport of cycling through an innovative, sustainable and scalable model.

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Amanda Roach

Executive Director of Media Relations & Editorial Content

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