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Cycling has some Major Momentum. We’re going something different for the next few episodes of the Zipp Speed Podcast. While we’re all about bike tech, we know cycling is all about people. Here at Zipp we’re excited to be part of SRAM’s commitment to expand cycling and make it more accessible to a more diverse array of people.

Recently, we had the honor of working with the pros of L39ION of Los Angeles and local cycling festival Momentum Indy to expand the reach of cycling in our community.

This episode of the Zipp Speed podcast kicks up a three-part series we’re calling Momentum for Cycling. It ties into a racing and cycling festival we support here in our hometown of Indianapolis called Momentum Indy. This festival includes the Honor Major Taylor ride presented by Zipp—a free ride dedicated to world champion and Indianapolis native Marshall “Major” Taylor.

To learn more about Momentum Indy, visit momentumindy.org.

In our three-part Momentum for Cycling series, we meet two new African American cyclists, Marion Leavell and Olivia West, and a visionary of American cyclist, race and event executive director Jennifer Cole Cvar.


The Zippcast · Momentum for Cycling Part I: Mario and Mariah

In our first Momentum of Cycling episode, we meet Mario Leavell. Mario started riding bikes since 2000, and used cycling to transform his health. Along the way he became inspired by Major Taylor and became a big fan of LEGION of Los Angeles. Last fall he even traveled from his home in Evansville, Indiana, to California for LEGION’s Into the Lion’s Den race.


The Zippcast · Momentum for Cycling Part II: Olivia and Mariah

In our second podcast, we meet cyclist Olivia West. Oliva grew up in Northern Indiana playing basketball and working with horses. Now she’s passionate about bikes and how they expand and empower her life. Olivia also was inspired by visiting the Major Taylor exhibit at the Indiana State Museum.


The Zippcast · Momentum for Cycling Page III: Momentum Indy Exec Director Jennifer Cvar


In our third podcast in this three-part series, we meet Jennifer Cole Cvar, executive director of the Momentum Indy cycling races and festival in our hometown of Indianapolis. Jennifer is on the leading edge of producing inclusive and invigorating cycling events that combine top level competition with community events that reach beyond the traditional cyclist audience.

Edited Excerpts 

Mario Leavell, cyclist

I got started in cycling because I wanted to lose weight. In 2018, I was really trying to lose weight. I was around 459 pounds. … I was walking and running and sought the advice of doctors, and they told me I should start to ride a bicycle because it would be better on my knees and back.

Cycling is about you vs. you. No one can ride the bike for you, no one can pedal for you. It’s really, are you better than you were yesterday? … I think every cyclist can related to a time where you’re on a ride, and your body says, I’m done, and you say shut up!

I didn’t really know who Major Taylor was until I started cycling. … Doing my research I found out he was born in Indianapolis and they had a velodrome (the Major Taylor Velodrome). I’ve lived in Indiana all my life and never even knew! How many times have I driven through and never saw this or knew about this. When I heard about the Major Taylor Ride, I was like I gotta be part of this. Especially as an African American man, this is something I want to be a part of; learning about Major Taylor and all the different Major Taylor clubs throughout the United States. 

When I saw L39ION of LA, I immediate became instant fanboy, 40 year old fan boy! Being part of Major Taylor, it really just brings out awareness. I love events where there are hundreds or thousands of cyclists riding together.

I flew out to Sacramento for L39ION of LA’s first race that they had, Into the Lions Den. Riding in California, you can’t beat that!

Olivia West, cyclist

I got connected with Zipp a few months ago right here in Indianapolis, Indiana, when they were sponsoring an event at the Indiana State Museum.

I started cycling more seriously just earlier this year. I started my first corporate job last fall, and we have a really amazing bike hub facility. I would always see people riding into work on the coolest bikes. It sparked my curiosity, as well as I have a very good friend in this city who is major cyclist. She has this amazing bike, this gravel bike. That is my cycling buddy and sister!

Cycling to me is almost a symbol of pride, of knowing that you, your body and your bike get you from Point A to Point B. Cycling in general is just another sport that teaches you to work hard, work hard play hard. You can do both when you’re cycling.

 Jennifer Cvar, race director

Criterium racing is very approachable. People can understand it. It’s on a short course. They can get right up on the barricades and see the races, feel that wind. That’s what makes criterium racing exciting for the fans. But something we try to do is incorporate all people in our community. We do that through the Honor Major Taylor Ride Presented by Zipp. It’s a free community-based ride with multiple distances. It’s just a great way for people who have never been part of a large ride to come and be a part of it.

 I really love what L39ION of LA is doing in helping to diversify the sport. It was very noticeable at our even last year. It’s (also) just a conscious effort on our part to be more inclusive in all of our programming.

Photos by Joe Vondersaar