Ames Grand Prix brings families together for weekend of bike races


Mikinna Kerns/Iowa State Daily

Bike riders from all over Iowa came together in Ames to compete in the Ames Prix presented by Duck Worth Wearing on June 16. along with the races for adults kids also had race on the same course.

Andrea Dahl

The steamy June weather could not keep bicycle enthusiasts away, as bikers of all ages rode into Ames Saturday evening, with their helmets and freshly pumped bike tires ready to compete.

The Ames Grand Prix Main Street Twilight Criterium, led by Ames Velo, took place as part of their weekend of bicycle racing, offering bicycle enthusiasts the opportunity to compete in different categories on a 0.7 mile flat course through downtown Ames. This is the third in the four weekends for the Iowa Memorial Cup Race Series (IMCRS).

“We really wanted to bring a race to Ames, because it’s the perfect location for it. It took awhile for the downtown culture to accept it, but what else is everyone going to be doing on a summer afternoon?” said Jason Quinn, Ames Velo board member, promoter and road coach.

This is the second annual event, and it showcases all that Ames and its downtown historic district has to offer, making it a pleasant experience for bikers and their families.

“We have people coming from all over the midwest. In five years, this will be huge,” Quinn said.

The event drew cyclists from central Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota, Kansas and South Dakota, as well as Tucson, Arizona, and Whitney, Ontario.

One of the main draws to the event is the cash and prizes. Winners of each race receive medals, merchandise from local Ames vendors or cash prizes.

“In the women’s (Cat Pro), we’re giving away $2,800 worth of diamonds for that race,” Quinn said. “What we’re hoping is that there may be 20 racers today, but they’re going to go tell their friends and Instagram it and Snap[chat] it, and next year, there will be 40 people, and the next year, 100.”

Races similar to this usually have to put limits on fields because they get so big, Quinn said.

Seamus O’Connor-Walker, winner of the Men’s Cat 5 category, said he started riding after he got a job at Skunk River Cycles.

“This is actually my first road race. I started riding three years ago, and last year was my first year getting really competitive,” said O’Connor-Walker.

O’Connor-Walker said he found his first road race different, yet fun, and will ride in next year’s event.

Along with the adult categories, there are junior races, which last 20 minutes, and kid races, which run one block or one lap. Quinn said these races are an important aspect to the event.

“The kids’ race is one of our biggest deals. We definitely want these kids to grow up having a good experience here and a positive experience of biking in general.”

Des Moines 10-year-old Sydney T. said she has been biking for six years and enjoyed the day with her dad, both racing in their respective categories.

While the Grand Prix attracts bike racers, the event also brings cycling families and supporters to experience the Ames culture as well.

“You can tell this is a pretty chill crowd. Concerts bring one type of crowd in, this brings another type to Ames,” Quinn said.

The Main Street Twilight Criterium was followed by a 2.6 mile ISU Research Park Circuit Race held on Sunday.