Organizers printed 1,000 bright yellow tee shirts with the image of a happy man with glasses and curly hair. They ran out.
Over 1,200 riders took to the Hank Aaron Trail in Milwaukee on Sunday morning to honor Chris Kegel, the owner of the Wheel & Sprocket Bike Shops, who was diagnosed last week with what appears to be terminal liver cancer.
It was an incredible outpouring of love and support for a man who does not seem to have an enemy in the world. Riders slow rolled the twelve miles to the Milwaukee lake shore where they scrawled messages of support on giant posters, then rode back to Kegel’s Restaurant (founded by Chris’ grandfather and now owned by his son, Julian) for a street party. The party featured (what else?) brats with all the fixings and beer served in pint glasses emblazoned with the image of the same smiling man. Trek, which sponsored the event, thought of everything, even a huge screen so that the crowd could watch the Packer game.
Chris appeared at the party for awhile as Trek CEO John Burke and People for Bikes’ Tim Blumenthal gave brief but moving tributes to the man who has done so much for cycling in Wisconsin and the nation.
It was a perfect warm fall day. The ride was beautiful. The food, the beer and the camraderie were excellent. The Packers even won. But as we rode home all of us had a little catch on our throats. But we held back the sobs. Just as our new green wrist bands suggested, we were Kegel strong.