You are here

Chris Kegel, fighting cancer, honored at Interbike's opening breakfast

Published September 21, 2016
Attendees honor retailer Chris Kegel with a toast.

LAS VEGAS (BRAIN) — Interbike's traditional opening Industry Breakfast took an emotional turn Wednesday as hundreds of attendees stood to honor retailer Chris Kegel, who was recently diagnosed with liver cancer.

Kegel, owner of Milwaukee's Wheel & Sprocket chain, is the board president of the National Bicycle Dealers Association, and has been active in most major industry groups, including PeopleForBikes. Kegel's son, Noel, was at the breakfast.

"A very good friend of our industry right now is fighting a tough battle," Interbike's Pat Hus told the breakfast attendees. "Chris is truly one of the class acts of this industry ... He's done more advocating for cycling than anyone I know."

The assembled group of about 750 people raised a toast to Kegel, which was streamed live on Facebook as Kegel watched from his hospital.

Supporters also distributed green wristbands printed with #kegelstrong and Kegel's motto: "Live life, Ride." The NBDA has giant "Get Well" cards in its booth that friends are signing throughout the show.

After feeling ill last week and losing weight for several weeks, Kegel had surgery on his liver Saturday. According to a website maintained by Kegel's family, chriskegel.com, he was diagnosed Monday with Cholangiocarcinoma, a rare and fast-paced form of cancer that originates in the bile ducts that drain bile from the liver. The family said Chris is exploring options for treatment.

Following the Kegel toast, a choked-up Hus made the difficult transition to talking about the industry's woes this year, and, with a large "Unite" slide showing beside him, Hus urged industry sectors and groups to work together to solve its problems.

"Leadership isn't always from one person. Sometimes leadership comes from a collective. The theme this year is 'unite,' " Hus said.

The breakfast discussion panel was focused on the value of pro competition — top level pro road cycling in particular — to the industry.

SRAM vice president David Zimberoff estimated that the bike industry spends about $50 million a year on World Tour-level sponsorship.

He said that represents 0.5 percent to 1 percent of the industry's revenues, while the industry on average commits 3-5 percent of revenue to marketing. SRAM spends about 3 percent of revenue on marketing, with about half of that devoted to competition and the rest to other marketing and support for various bike advocacy causes, he said.

Join the Conversation