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Little 500 defending champs coach says it’s all about the evolution

Updated: Apr 19

Even though Jim Kirkham raced in the Little 500 four times as an Indiana University student, he said he was never really a great racer; he’s a much better coach. In the 28 years he’s been the CUTTERS coach, his team has won Little 5 11 times, including in 2023.


2023 IU Little 500 Winners, CUTTERS

As a hospice nurse with IU Health Bloomington, he spends his days assisting patients and their families in their own homes. He says his day job and bike racing are both about evolution.


“I get to watch the evolution of patients from accepting a terminal diagnosis to accepting death. It’s a meaningful transition. I like to be alongside people. I feel like this kind of nursing allows my strengths to come forward and my weaknesses to fall away.


Jim Kirkham, RN
Jim Kirkham, RN - IU Health Bloomington Hospice

A bike team is the same, he says. You suffer together, you look inward, you ask questions of yourself and you grow together.

While two riders from last year’s winning team have graduated, Kirkham is confident the team will be competitive again this year.


“We do the best when we get athletes who are curious about the sport and we can develop them into cyclists and a love of the sport. The competition is really heavy, but we will be a team people will have to watch out for.”


CUTTERS’ top rider, Judah Thompson, was edged out of Little 5’s Individual Time Trials by only .14 seconds on March 27. A Bloomington kid whose dad raced Little 5 with Kirkham, Thompson competed in the crits that are part of IU Health Momentum Indy last summer. Kirkham says it’s a great opportunity for Little 500 peers to measure their fitness. It’s a different kind of race than Little 500 because you have to go all out the entire time rather than performing exchanges and switching riders, but it’s a great benchmark.


Why I Ride

“It’s an opportunity to go inward and focus on breathing. It’s also just a great way to spend time with your friends.”


 The 2024 IU Little 500 is April 19-20 at Bill Armstrong Stadium in Bloomington.

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