Willkie Sprint: A Story of Friendship, Love, and Winning the First Women's Little 500 Race

Product Details
$25.00  $23.25
Indiana University Press
Publish Date
5.98 X 10.0 X 0.55 inches | 0.85 pounds

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About the Author

Kerry Hellmuth spends many of her waking hours either riding a bike or figuring out how she can fit a ride into her schedule. She is a recovering attorney and also refuses to use the PhD in Behavioral Economics that she worked so hard to obtain late in life at the University of Trento in Italy. She lives in Trento with her two beloved teenage sons, who remind her on a daily basis that she is old and does not know anything.


"For many years women students on IU's Bloomington campus participated in the events of Little 500 week by racing against one another on tricycles. In 1988 these entertainments were eclipsed by the inauguration of a 100 lap women's bicycle race run on the same track as the men's race. In her smart and engaging book Kerry Hellmuth, who competed in the inaugural race, recounts how the race was established, the arduous routines of training for it, and then in exciting chapters the running of the race itself. She also describes the making new friends, learning from outstanding teachers, studying in the hallways of the music school so that she could listen to students practicing, sleeping out all night in Brown County to look at the stars, and other pleasures and discoveries of her remarkably full first year as a university student."--Donald Gray, editor, The Well House Reader

"Woven through this gripping story of a bicycle race are threads of a larger and longer story about women's struggle to gain the rights and opportunities enjoyed by men. Kerry Hellmuth and her cycling teammates, along with all the other competitors in that historic race, helped move our nation forward on the difficult, generations-long path toward gender equity. This lively memoir invites us along for the ride."--Scott Russell Sanders, author of Small Marvels

"Anytime a barrier is broken it is cause for celebration. Such is the case in Kerry Hellmuth's real life tale of a team of young women making their way into a famed American competition too long denied to their kind. It takes a lot of perseverance to compete in Indiana's famed Little 500 bike race. But it takes even more to make history. Somewhere The Cutters are smiling."--John Roach, author of Way Out Here in the Middle

"With heart and humor, Kerry Hellmuth shares her cycling team's journey to victory in the inaugural Women's Little 500 -- from their kick-off meeting to their final lap. This coming-of-age memoir documents an important first for women's sports through the experiences of an underdog team. It's a powerful story about perseverance, unbreakable friendships, falling in love, and learning who you are."--Sheryl Sandberg, former COO of Meta, and Founder of LeanIn.org and OptionB.org

"Willkie Sprint is a powerful coming-of-age memoir. Author Kerry Hellmuth shares her journey as she embarks on her first year at university, discovers her passion for cycling, forges friendships, and seizes an opportunity that generations of women before her never had: to compete in the inaugural women's Little 500. Kerry details how she worked with her coach and teammates to plan, prepare, compete, and persevere through challenges to win, and falls in love in the process."--Dede Demet Barry, former professional cyclist and Olympic silver medalist

"I loved Breaking Away as a movie about college, and I love this book as a college experience about bike racing. Kerry Hellmuth relays the thrill of thriving as an 18-year-old away at school like it was yesterday. The recalling of the race tactics from her own mind is scintillating. The race seesaws from a narrow lead to oceans of distance to cover. Like most glorious triumphs, the work is in the details: months of dreary workouts made into fun with great teammates, miles of training with nothing but good company, and the unknown lying ahead of her in a race just opened to women for the first time, following a fight from generations of great women."--Andy Hampsten, only American winner of the Giro d'Italia bike race

"It was cool reading this story about the first women's edition of the actual Little 500 race, one of my favorites because my dad played a racer in the movie version, Breaking Away. Even though he was one of the Italians, I always rooted for the Cutters. I found myself cheering just as loudly for Willkie Sprint. So will you."--Christian Vande Velde, former professional cyclist and NBC commentator

"For many, a bike is a vehicle for self discovery and freedom. Hellmuth beautifully captures her journey through adolescence into adulthood, and how a bike race at Indiana University not only gave her confidence to persist and work with her teammates in pursuit of a goal but also broke barriers for generations of women bike racers who followed. Her detailed descriptions of training for the first women's event at the legendary Little 500, the crashes, bumps and pushes with other racers on the cinder track in Bloomington, and the sense of accomplishment shared with teammates, had me wanting to get back on my bike and into a race."--Michael Barry, former World Tour cyclist, and author of Fitness Cycling