Chris Kegel, owner of the Wheel & Sprocket bicycle stores and a national bicycling advocate, passed away on Feb. 7 and will be remembered by family, friends and colleagues this weekend.
[caption id="attachment_164159" align="alignright" width="547"] Kegel surrounded by friends and family at the Chris' Slow Roll Bike Ride event in September.[/caption]
Kegel, 63, was diagnosed with a fast-acting bile duct cancer called cholangiocarcinoma in September. Since that time, the bicycling community has made a large outpouring of support for Kegel and his impact on the biking world. The Milwaukee County Parks renamed Milwaukee’s first mountain bike trail system “Chris Kegel Alpha Trails,” and the State of Wisconsin and cities of Milwaukee and West Allis proclaimed Sept. 25, 2016 Chris Kegel Day. On Sept. 25, Chris’ Slow Roll Bike Ride was held at State Fair Park with more than 1,000 riders. Kegel received an honorary doctorate from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee on Dec. 15.
A West Allis native, Kegel joined Wheel & Sprocket in Hales Corners as a mechanic in 1973, soon after it opened. He became sole owner and president of the company in 1989 and expanded it to seven locations in southeastern Wisconsin, the Fox Valley and Illinois. It is Wisconsin’s largest bike retailer and one of the top 100 bike retailers in the country. Kegel’s life was largely dedicated to creating more bicycle-friendly communities, and he met with two U.S. presidents as part of that mission.
He served on the boards of the International Mountain Bicycling Association, Bikes Belong, the League of American Bicyclists, the National Bicycle Dealers Association, Recreation for Individuals Dedicated to the Environment, the Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin, the Wisconsin Off Road Bicycling Association, the Wisconsin State Trails Council, the Mequon Trails committee and Ozaukee Interurban Trail Advisory Council.
Kegel is survived by his wife, Mary; four adult children, Noel (Katie), Julian (Stephanie), Amelia and Tessa and their mother Jane; and four siblings: Jerry (Jane), Bill (Carol), Ed (Karen) and Dave.
He will be remembered on Friday and Saturday in Milwaukee. A Celebration of Life will be held on Friday, Feb. 17, at St. Matthias Catholic Parish, 9306 W. Beloit Road in Milwaukee. A reception will be held from 3 p.m. to 6:45 p.m. Friday, followed by a presentation at 7 p.m.
On Saturday, a funeral mass will be held at 10:30 a.m. at St. Matthias.
Kegel’s family has asked that in lieu of flowers, a donation be made to The Chris Kegel Foundation, which was established to continue his legacy of improving lives through greater access to biking.
All Wheel & Sprocket locations will be closed beginning at 3 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 17 and will remain closed all day on Saturday. Family-owned Kegel’s Inn, run by Chris' son Julian and his wife Stephanie, in West Allis will be closed both Friday and Saturday.