Guerrilla Grand Prix

Thanks to Wheel & Sprocket, Milwaukee has a new summer-time bike race series.

Guerrilla Grand Prix is a series of parking garage races that will pit cyclists against each other in a rapid-descent to the finish line — typically starting at the top of the parking garage and ending a few levels below. Each event will be broken up into three different types of races that can range from serious and competitive to light-hearted and hilarious.

At these (sometimes literally) underground events, anything goes — absurd costumes and impractical modes of transportation become the norm. Amelia Kegel, co-owner and marketing director of Wheel & Sprocket, was inspired to create the Guerrilla Grand Prix by the Crosshairs Cycling club in Washington D.C., whose parking garage races in Crystal City, Virgina have been described as the “Fight Club” of bike racing.

The family-friendly events were created to make use of the parking garages that sit vacant after business hours and to attract visitors with free parking. The races were a hit and word began to spread, catching the attention of riders who are in it for both fun and glory.

Wheel & Sprocket co-owner and director of marketing Amelia Kegel and her events team have been working on bringing this phenomenon to Milwaukee. The inaugural Guerrilla Grand Prix will involve three races that will take place in July, August and September.

“All different types of people and styles of racers are welcome — not just road racers but any type of bike can be found,” Kegel says. “We want to show you how much fun it can be.”

Thanks to the cooperation of some real estate connections, Wheel & Sprocket has gained access to three parking garages this summer. Each race will play out in a different parking garage.

“It’s nice to reactive areas that aren’t being utilized, especially in downtown Milwaukee where there are a bunch of parking garages that aren’t being used,” Kegel says.

The first race — titled Dankey’s Dungeon — will take place on July 11 at the 633 building located at 633 W. Wisconsin Ave, coinciding with the Newaukee Night Market several blocks away. The second race will take place on August 15 at the Bucks Arena Parking Garage and the third will take place on September 12 in the Grand Ave. Mall parking structure.

Each event will be divided into three races: a straight up race, a guerrilla single race, and a guerrilla double relay race.

The straight up race is for the competetive speed-junkies. With a mass-start format (competitors all start at the same time), riders will compete to place their “race plate” in the bucket at the finish line to win prizes. Laps are announced the day of the event and will change in accordance with each new parking garage.

The open guerrilla single race is where the Guerrilla Grand Prix starts to get weird. For this race, points are allocated to those who complete tasks — whether that’s collecting bananas, throwing water balloons, or dressing up — and to those who choose to race on a unique set of wheels. The rider that accrues the most points in a half-hour period wins. The third and final race type — the open guerrilla relay — follows the same rules as the open guerrilla single but involves teams of 2–4 riders competing in a relay-style race.

Participants are encouraged to sign up for any number of these races.

“Even if you don’t want to ride, it’s something that’s new and it’s going to be hilarious,” Kegel says.

The universal rules for each race are simple: Areas marked by the words “bums in the saddle” require riders to sit on their bike saddles. Any riders caught standing in these zones will be automatically disqualified. Helmets are required to be worn at all times, and all bikes must have a braking system.

After each race, the party moves to the parking garage’s rooftop, where alcohol vendors and DJs will set up shop.

“Bicycling has a rippling effect — there’s a cool momentum that brings people together in a unique area,” Kegel says. “It’s a fun way to be active and experience Milwaukee. We want everyone to feel welcome.”

To register for Guerrilla Grand Prix and for more information, visit www.guerrillagrandprix.com. Registration for each race costs $20 and includes admission to the race and a beer ticket. Races will begin at 6:00 p.m. and will conclude with an awards ceremony and rooftop party starting at 8:30 p.m.

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