Zipp News

Back 12.20.2013

Fulfillment in Cycling and Service

Guy East is as homegrown to Indianapolis as Zipp Speed Weaponry. East was born in 1987, Zipp founded in 1988. As a bike-racing Hoosier kid, he treasured his first pair of Zipp wheels. He started racing at the age of 11 and soon learned the speed and tactics of racing at Major Taylor Velodrome. He dreamed of racing for the U.S. National Team and in the Tour de France.


Through his teenage years and into his early 20s, he traveled the globe racing on the road and track for the USA Cycling Development Team. He’d go on to race for Trek-Livestrong in 2009 and Kelly Benefit Strategies in 2010. Yet having joined the professional peloton, he began to ask himself tough questions – Is this it? Is this what I want to do? He was especially troubled by the extreme poverty he saw while competing in Mexico and the Philippines.

At the end of the 2010 season, East left pro road racing to focus on serving the poor and studying Spanish. Yet his passion of cycling, especially track racing, burned. East then developed a vision to combine service and cycling, and that plan is now becoming a reality – East competes in professional Six Day velodrome races with Daniel Holloway as part of the True.Home-More Than Sport America’s 6-Day Team. For service, East lives in Tijuana and working with nonprofit groups Homes of Hope and More Than Sport organizes trips for elite and professional athletes to come to Mexico to build homes for families in need. The homes are roughly 330 square feet with two or three rooms and can be built in two days. The athletes need no construction experience to take part.

Pro road racers, Olympic track cyclists, triathletes, rowers, track and field athletes and even Olympic gymnastics gold medalist Shawn Johnson are among those who took part in East’s first two home builds (Road Bike Action story on first build). A third home build is planned for January with athletes and staff from the USA Cycling U-23 Development Team.

Zipp provides East with 808 Firecrest Track Tubular wheelsets and a Zipp 900 disc. Nathan Schickel, a Zipp product manager who volunteers at Major Taylor Velodrome, also helps motorpace East in training sessions on the track. We caught up with East while he was home in Indianapolis for the holidays:

These builds provide a home for a family in need. What do you hope the athletes get out of it?
I experienced often times that as a pro athlete that my life was out of balance. When I saw the poverty in Mexico and the Philippines, it brought renewed perspective into what was really, I thought, more important…. The home build kind of provides the same shift in perspective. Life isn’t all about just winning races…. Challenging athletes, how do we define success? If you’re a really good athlete, you’re going to compete for six years at the Pro Tour level or five years at the domestic level, or whatever. And then it’s over, and then what? But if you have a more holistic view to what success means, then you can carry that and the transferrable skills like self control and discipline that you learned in sport, to the rest of your life. That’s really what we’re trying to bring to the table.

When did you first ride Zipp wheels?
I remember when Zipp was working near the Speedway, my dad (who is a builder) and I did a construction project so they could put in a big machine to make crank arms. So we took down the wall. I just would tour the factory while my dad was working but one of payments I got was a set of 909 wheels (a Zipp 404 front-Zipp 900 disc combo). They were the coolest thing. I just rode those wheels around when I was 12 years old and I wouldn’t take them off.

Describe the pace and intensity of Six Day racing for us? What drew you to this form of racing?
I love the history of Six Days. I feel like it’s our sport as Americans… We really adopted it in the late 1800s and early 1900s. … USA Cycling started this program to create athletes for the 2012 Olympic games in the Madison and so forth and they selected me as one to go do these amateur Six Days. … It was just like nothing I had ever seen before. It’s sport as entertainment. It’s almost like a theater play, then you’re going to a discothèque, and you’re going to a bar, and you’re going to a fine-dining restaurant, and you’re going to a sporting match all in one. It’s so cool -- It’s this sensory experience! We’ll average 54 km an hour… It’s very, very fast.

You started riding and racing at a young age. You stepped away from racing and have come back using the bike to give your work deeper meaning. What does the bike mean to you?
I love the freedom of a bicycle. I love what it’s meant for me ever since I was a child. I’ll get maybe a little emotional here… but I started because I just felt rejected in school. No one accepted me, and people called me names. Then I found a bicycle, and it gave me this freedom away from all of that. I think about it frequently, what the bicycle means… It’s so important to me. I love just going out riding and spending time with friends. It’s a social activity. It’s multifaceted. I always want to be on my bicycle.

East’s next race is Zesdaagse van Rotterdam (Six Days of Rotterdam) Jan. 2-7.

Follow @GuyEast on Twitter