How a small Missouri cycling team became a monument to cycling passion

Gateway Devo Cycling is creating pro-caliber riders and even better human beings

Chris Creed is a former ’80s and ’90s road racer who started Gateway Devo Cycling as a way to, in his words, “get away with playing bikes for a couple years.” 

Between retiring from pro cycling and starting his own team in 2010, he did a stint in culinary school, got married after dating his wife for six months, bought a Harley Davidson dealership in St. Louis and started a family that has now grown to eight kids. He picked up racing again in 2009, the same year the Tour of Missouri had its final race. 

Creed doesn’t tiptoe into anything he starts. In hindsight, the idea that he would run a small local team for only three years like he initially planned seems quaint. Turns out, Creed was right that there would be an overflow of cycling passion left after the Tour was cancelled. Over the course of 11 years, Gateway Devo has grown bigger and better.

We probably should have stopped it a long time ago, if we'd looked at it from a dollars and cents standpoint. But we feel it's an investment in something bigger and greater in life.

- Chris Creed

And Creed is still helming the team, even though the demands of running a competitive development-focused can be overwhelming. Gateway is comprised of young amateur riders — largely under-23, but not exclusively — who take on and often beat the pros. To date, the program has helped 15 riders earn professional contracts, including 2020 Tour de France standout Sepp Kuss. 

Gateway has accomplished so much even though Creed largely manages the team in his spare time, when he’s not parenting on Expert difficulty with his wife, Rene, or working on setting up his new bike shop in Festus, Mo.

“I squeeze it in when I can. It’s either late nights or early in the morning, before kids get up or after they go to bed,” Creed says. “I honestly could work eight hours a day on it, or more, every single day. And you know, I feel bad when I don’t, but it’s just the reality. I just can’t, you know?”

Chris Creed watching at the side of the road during a 2018 race.

The team still operates at a solid hum. It is overseen by people who, like Creed, are endlessly passionate about cycling. Rene co-owns and manages the team with him. Jim Schneider, an accomplished rider in the ’80s, handles coaching and recruiting. Josh Favus, who ran the team that Creed raced for in 1993, provides support and sponsorship. And through Trek’s co-sponsorship, the team has its equipment taken care of. 

Yet even with so much help, some days can be a struggle. Since starting Gateway, Creed has seen several high-profile start-up development teams quietly disappear under logistical strain. Gateway succeeds thanks to a lot of sweat equity and benefactors who believe in the program’s mission. It’s a labor of love by necessity. 

“We probably should have stopped it a long time ago, if we’d looked at it from a dollars and cents standpoint,” Creed says. “But we feel it’s an investment in something bigger and greater in life.”

There are kids not learning to fall down, scrape their knees, pick themselves back up and get back in the saddle, and that's so huge for self confidence.

- Chris Creed

Somehow, Creed is still expanding his vision. In addition to supporting a team that currently lists eight riders, Chris and Rene also run Living Life on 2 Wheels, a nonprofit dedicated to building up cycling infrastructure and community in the Ozarks. Its projects include strider bike camps for early riders, and plans to build bike features, trails and greenways around the area. 

Character and passion is at the core of every one of the Creeds’ many initiatives. Even for Gateway, which prides itself on its on-road results, attracting the right personalities is important. The team accepts promising riders from all over the world, but they all go through a screening process that includes submitting a resumé and interviewing with Schneider, who has a knack for sussing out who will thrive within a team environment.

“When Jim interviews all the riders, first and foremost they have to be a good person. We take that way over results,” Creed says. “And then we look at their potential. How long have they been riding? What have they done? What can they do? Do they have the headroom there to grow?

“He can pick them. He’s been doing this forever.”

Gateway Devo recruits riders from all over the world.

Creed and company know what they’re doing, but they’re not working off a blueprint. They guide Gateway and Living Life on 2 Wheels by what feels right, based on decades of racing and living within cycling communities. They’ve experienced the best and worst of the sport — triumphs and camaraderie, but also hard, bootstrap days — and have a clear sense of the aspects they’d like to elevate.

If you ask Creed how he became so driven, he’ll tell you it’s because he picked up a bike.

“There are kids not learning to fall down, scrape their knees, pick themselves back up and get back in the saddle, and that’s so huge for self confidence,” Creed says. “From a racing standpoint, when these kids travel around the world, they learn fast how to be good human beings. The friends that I’ve made from back in the ’80s, we’re still great friends today. And then the lessons that I learned from striving to be the best I can be on my bike have driven who I am today — being the best dad I can be, or running whatever businesses we’re doing.”

When these kids travel around the world, they learn fast how to be good human beings.

- Chris Creed

Creed could have pulled the plug on Gateway Devo after three years. Instead he kept it going, pushing through every obstacle and taxing his energy reserves, because he knew he would succeed if he just maintained momentum. 

“I feel really good about it,” Creed says. “You know, we’ve got a lot of things working and a lot of plates in the air spinning, but it’s gonna all come down in place. We believe it.”