By Jason McDowell Creative Director Published Jun 23, 2022 at 12:02 PM

With the last four races in the Tour of America's Dairyland returning to the Milwaukee area starting Thursday, now might be a good time to figure out what the heck these cow-printed jerseys are all about and what each jersey color indicates.

Bike racing aims to be an accessible sport and provide entry points for novices of all ages and genders, while still offering stiff competition for those with more experience. As participants add speed, skills and successes to their race histories, they can advance through tougher and tougher categories (called Cats).

Because of these categories, a typical day at the Tour of America's Dairyland is portioned out into several rounds of racing, from juniors to novice adults (Cat 5), then advancing through Cats 4 through 1, and finally – if you're good enough – the pro level.

Participants can choose to compete in as many or as few races as they want and they can win any number of them, but there is also an overall competition, called the Omnium, which aims to find the fastest rider in the entire series by accumulating points across each race. Point totals are based on a rider's finishing position.

When racers cross the finish line, a high-speed camera notes their race number and position, then judges award descending points to each rider in the top 20; the first-place rider is awarded 30 points while the 20th-placed rider gets one. As points are accumulated across the 11 days of racing, the person with the lowest amount of points is awarded a coveted cow-print jersey (among other sponsor prizes).

When finishers take to the podium, there could be two winners: the person who crossed the line first, and the person who is leading the Omnium competition. On the other hand, a single person could earn four jerseys all at once. A Cat 2 racer could sweep the stage win, the Cat 2 jersey and the overall leader's jersey, and the bonus Sprint Prime jersey as well! (It's probably possible in the first couple of days, but that gets more and more difficult as the series goes on.)

Because there are multiple categories of racing throughout the day, there are winners taking the stage every hour. So, with so many winners, how do you know who is leading what competition?

Easy enough!

There is a different color of cow print (and attached sponsor) that is associated with each race category, and this year they simplified the code by matching men and women to the same colored jersey (apart from the Pro/1/2 races).

Pro Cyclist Foundation
Junior Series in memory of Judith McNamara
Kwik Trip
Novice Women
Novice Men
Kwik Trip
Cat 4/Novice Women
Cat 4 Men
Briohn Building Corporation
Cat 3/4 Women
Cat 3/4 Men
Ascension Sports Medicine
Cat 2/3 Women
Cat 2/3 Men
Oarsman Capital
Cat 2 Women
Cat 2 Men
M3 Insurance
Pro/1/2 Women
Kwik Trip
Pro/1/2 Men
KS Energy Services
Masters 40+, 50+, 60+
Associated Bank
Handcycle 1/2
Handcycle 3/4/5
Handcycle Women
Lowlands Lion Prime
Sprint Competition
General ToAD merchandise

You'll also note towards the bottom of that chart, there is an additional jersey for the Lowlands Lion Prime sprint competition. This sprint competition is essentially a smaller race within the race; the first person across the line at the halfway point of the Pro/1/2 races earns points towards that jersey.

Jason McDowell Creative Director

Jason McDowell grew up in central Iowa and moved to Milwaukee in 2000 to attend the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design.

In 2006 he began working with OnMilwaukee as an advertising designer, but has since taken on a variety of rolls as the Creative Director, tackling all kinds of design problems, from digital to print, advertising to branding, icons to programming.

In 2016 he picked up the 414 Digital Star of the Year award.

Most other times he can be found racing bicycles, playing board games, or petting dogs.