Cycling club to bring Grand Prix to Ames


Courtesy of Leman Northway

Racers in the second annual 2017 Crushed Rock Classic in March.

Maggie Curry

Ames Velo, a racing group in Ames, is leading the return of the Ames Grand Prix on June 10, the second in the three weekends for the Iowa Memorial Cup Race Series (IMCRS).

The Goal of Ames Grand Prix was to provide an event to bring together the various portions of Ames bicycle culture, including racers and enthusiasts. It is also to provide a way for a new audience to visit, experience and discover Ames and to showcase Main Street and Research Park in a different way, according to Jason Quinn from Ames Velo, a cycling group with a long history in Ames.

The second weekend of the IMCRS had been in State Center for the past eight years. Quinn said prior to that a race had been held in Ames the same weekend as Midnight Madness, a run that takes place in Downtown Ames. Coordinating the two very different competitions was difficult, so the event was moved to State Center.

“I’d raced it when I wasn’t on a team, and I thought ‘this is kind of a weird deal, why is it out here [in State Center],'” Quinn said. “I thought, ‘you guys, it’s Ames. This is such a great, happening town. Why don’t we have something energetic like this in our city?'”

Quinn was surprised the number of people who would come to State Center, and expects the event moving to Ames to triple its size because of the other Ames attractions and alumni. The race will showcase Main Street and its businesses with the location and sponsorship opportunities on the individual kid’s, women’s and full races.

“Women’s racing, junior’s racing, college-level racing are things that I care a lot about because they’re what spread it out so it becomes more approachable,” Quinn said. 

Just this week Ames Velo presented a $1150.00 check to Erika Peterson of the Boys and Girls Club of Story County, made possible from the proceeds of their mixed surface bicycle race the 2017 Crushed Rock Classic in March. It was the Crushed Rock Classic’s second year, raced through McFarland Park.

“We wanted to do something a little less mainstream,” Quinn said. “That was really neat.”

Ames Velo is the rebranded name of the Central Iowa Cycling Club, a racing team with deep history in Ames. The group holds training rides on Technical Tuesdays and Tactical Thursdays, when members learn how to maneuver and control a bicycle in difficult situations.

“For cycling there are no drills like every other sport,” Quinn said. 

Wednesdays are ride days, but the rides tend to be known for their difficulty. Quinn said the group is working on adding smaller routes, so there would be different level groups on the rides and it’s not just for racers.

Quinn is advocating for the club to be more accessible and affordable for younger members. He said no one would appreciate a pro-rider coming out of Ames unless there are a lot of bike enthusiasts at the community level.

He was a part of the national bike racing scene in his youth, and grew up one town over from Lance Armstrong, in a suburb of Dallas.

“I eventually want to start a junior development here. I was part of that in high school, I would leave school and go to the local biking shop and do credit for P.E. by doing bike racing,” Quinn said.

He encourages all riders to contact the group on the Ames Velo Rides Facebook page to find a group to ride with or invite people to ride with them, since riding with a group is always safer near cars and on public roads than riding alone.

Ames Velo works to advocate for bike safety with the Ames Bicycle Coalition. Quinn wants the club to be more inviting to non-racers.

“There are a lot of things you can do that are hyper-therapeutic [when biking],” Quinn said. “You can be riding and talking, you can be outside.”

He said many former athletes would enjoy cycling, including former runners.

More on the race

The Iowa Memorial Cup Race Series (IMCRS) provides a connection between bicycle racing, bicycle advocacy and communities to improve awareness of safety for future cyclists and showcase the unique racing opportunities across the state.

Each race weekend is dedicated in memorial to a local fallen hero in their respective cycling community. The Ames races will donate a portion of the proceeds to the TIM Foundation, in memory of Tim Jenks. Tim died in 2014 during an accident while on a ride, before entering high school.

The series began in Iowa City in May, will move to Ames in June and finish up in Des Moines in August. The Ames race is split into two days, with races on Main Street Ames and at the Iowa State University Research Park.

Saturday June 10: Main Street Criterium

A flat, 7 turn .7 mile course in the center of the Main Street Cultural District. Kids races will occur that day as well. Criteriums are closed race circuits with multiple laps.

Sunday June 11: Research Park Circuit Race

A 2.8 mile technical course winding through the Research Park campus in south Ames. 

Register here: