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Hundreds Expected to Take Part in 'Bike to the 500'

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Posted at 5:07 PM, May 19, 2024

SPEEDWAY — If you live in the Racing Capital of the World, you know May is THE month.

What you might not know, May is also Bike Month.

John Franklin Hay knows it.

The guy with three names has one big passion.

"I'm a bike rider," he said.

And he tries to get other people across Indianapolis pedaling too.

In fact, Hay leads a community bike ride every Wednesday evening on Indy's near east side.

Now, Hay wants even more people to experience an event he looks forward to every year known as "Bike to the 500."

"It's like the party before the party," Hay said.

Tess Woods is the Project Coordinator for "Bike Indianapolis," a non-profit which advocates for improved bicycle infrastructure across the city and educates drivers and bikers about safe practices to share the road.

The organization's mission is to get more people to ride bicycles.

Woods helps coordinate "Bike to the 500," a fun, community ride on race morning, departing from the Amp at 16 Tech, just off Indiana Avenue.

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"The ride is less than five miles," Woods said. "So, five miles to the Indy 500 is what we say."

Hay remembers the first "Bike to the 500" event in 2016.

And when the idea came up, he had his doubts.

"I thought it was a little bit crazy," he said. "Just because of what the traffic is like."

Police cruisers escort the group of bicyclists to the track.

Hay says it is just one of the perks of "Bike to the 500."

"It's a long line and we are just breezing right past them," Hay said.

At the track, participants can park their bikes in a gated, security-monitored corral, just steps away from Gate One at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

This event was growing in popularity before the pandemic with roughly 1,000 riders taking part. During the COVID-19 pandemic, those numbers dropped.  

Organizers are hoping to attract more participants and increase ridership now.

Last year, they hosted around 500 riders.

"Bike to the 500" is a fundraiser and participants need a ticket.

The proceeds help pay for Bike Indianapolis programs and educational outreach. Tickets range between $25 to $30.

There are two rides on race morning at 7:30 a.m. and 9:30 a.m.

If you don't have a bike, you can rent one.

For Hay, this has become a race-day tradition he won't miss.

"It's, for us, one of the parts of race day that we look forward to," he said.

For more information on the event or to purchase tickets, click here.