‘Onewheel Wing’ has traveled more than 22,000 miles on Onewheel, and he’s not stopping there.
At the top of the Onewheel XR all-time leaderboard sits a mind-blowing statistic next to a mythical alias. “Onewheel Wing,” a rider who’s logged more miles than any other mortal. 22,000 miles and counting, enough miles to cross America coast-to-coast eight times—a stonesthrow shy of a lap around the world. It’s a baffling figure, which begs the question: who on earth is “Onewheel Wing?” And what drives him to take Onewheel so far?
22,000 miles and counting, it turns out, is just scratching the surface of Javier Starks, the man behind the title. As for his drive?
“The goal is to change the world,” Starks says.
When he’s not Onewheeling 40+ miles a day, Starks spends his weekdays teaching school in his adopted hometown of Washington DC. On weekends, he instructs Onewheel demos at a park downtown. But here’s the kicker: Starks is also a local rap star, performing at major venues around DC, hosting concert series at the Lincoln Memorial, and collaborating on tracks with the city’s top producers, not the least of whom being Logic.
“My whole thing is, I want to make a positive impact, to help people make better decisions,” Starks says. “Teaching and music allow me to do that, and now, so does Onewheel.”
Starks wasn’t always so positive. His motivation to change the world around him has roots in a need to change the world within him. From his rough and tumble past stemmed a shift of virtues and a sense of purpose, and with that, a drive to change the world.
Starks never met his biological father. He spent his childhood bouncing around America in Miniature with his mother and stepfather, who were both enlisted in the military and are now disabled veterans. As such, they moved around a lot, first from Georgia to Baltimore, then to Gaithersburg, Maryland. By his senior year of high school, Starks found himself on the street.
“In my late-teens my family was going through some tough issues, and I got put out of the house,” said Starks. “I moved in with a close friend who was a skateboarder. I started skating, and before long, I got sucked into a pretty wild lifestyle.”
Skateboarding itself wasn’t the problem for Starks. On the contrary, it gave Starks an identity and a much-needed form of expression. But for a 17-year-old left to his own devices under the influence of a pernicious crowd, temptations unchecked, and the misguided preachings of popular rap music, making great decisions wasn’t exactly a top priority at the time.
“We were listening to a lot of music that was telling us to do more, to indulge more, which we thought was fun,” said Javier. “But I started realizing that we were listening to bad advice. People were dying, getting addicted, going to prison. We started spiraling into chaos. I look back and feel very fortunate to be alive.”
Two major car accidents, countless black-outs, and a few lost friends later, Starks wasn’t in the best of places. Then one night at a party, a friend passed him a joint, content undisclosed. Whatever was inside it sent Starks over the top.
“I was f***d up,” Starks recalls. “I went out skateboarding by myself, and had this creepy feeling that I couldn’t shake. I felt like something was watching me, more than just a person, way more powerful than paranoia.”
Whether it was divine intervention or just a bad trip, Starks cannot surmise, but he gives the sense that he sees it as both. That night, he skated to his mom’s house, and despite not being entirely welcome there at the time, he spent the next week hidden away in solitude, shaking it off. But the time to reflect was a blessing in disguise for Starks. He cleared his head, reconsidered his priorities, and reemerged with a new mission in mind.
“I decided I wanted to help people who may be making poor decisions because of bad influences,” Starks said. “To help them navigate around those experiences so they wouldn’t have to go through that stuff just because someone told them to.”
Until that point, Starks’ wayward lifestyle had been a direct reflection of the music he was into, a gangster rap soundtrack littered with messaging fast money, cars, violence and drugs. For better or worse, he had a knack for memorizing lyrics.
“I realized that music resonated heavily with me,” said Javier. “My friends recognized I had a talent, and encouraged me to make my own music. I thought, ‘why not use my voice as a catalyst to create change?’”
In one foul swoop, Starks put down the dope and picked up a mic, and there spawned a lifelong career of spreading stoke and positivity through music.
“I use my platform as an MC to show kids that you can be successful rapping about anything,” says Javier. “Fortnite, your Onewheel, your favorite tutu…you can rap about soccer and people will love it! As long as it’s catchy, kids are going to listen.”
The kids did listen, but his music wasn’t going platinum overnight. To make ends meet, Starks needed a flexible day gig that aligned with his quest to spread the stoke, so he took a job as a substitute teacher.
“Teaching is a great outlet for me. I try to teach kids to embrace their own individual strengths instead of trying to break them, to teach them that their voice is powerful,” says Starks. “In helping them master their talents, we learn to cultivate our own!"
Meanwhile, Starks continued to cultivate his own voice, and just as his rap career finally began taking flight, one of Starks’ friends got a Onewheel and let him take it for a spin. He was instantly hooked, and began saving up to buy his own.
“I was saving up, and one day I got asked to rap on an international feature,” said Starks. “It was a one-minute verse that paid $3,500. I knew exactly what to do with that!”
On May 24, 2019—a date Starks recites like it's his favorite holiday—he bought his first Onewheel. Less than two years later, he hit the 22,000-mile mark. He rides an average of 40+ miles each day, every day, some more, some a little less.
“In the beginning I wasn’t thinking about the idea of being #1 in the world,” Starks says. “I just really love riding my Onewheel!”
Over time Starks met other riders, learned new tricks, and began sharing the experience with kids around town. He started co-hosting weekend meet-ups and teaching people how to ride—everything from basic balance skills to sending massive drops, doing boardslides, and spinning 360 wheel whips.
“People need to learn how to fall, how to control their speed, and that wearing helmets is smart,” Starks said. “My goal is to help ease that learning curve.”
After a few months and a couple thousand miles, Starks began studying the Onewheel leaderboard, envisioning himself at the top.
“I realized if I got enough experience on it, I could build a brand for myself and use Onewheel as a tool for spreading positivity.” Starks said.
Over the course of the next year, he charged for the top slot. He hit a streak of 388 consecutive days and nearly 15000 miles, claiming #1 on the streak leaderboard before a nightmare wifi incident wiped his progress clean, and sent him back to square one. He kept going.
“It wasn’t easy,” Starks said. “Winter 2019 hit when I was at the 6,000-mile mark, and I started riding a lot in the cold, every day, even when it got down to the low-20s. It was pretty unbearable, but I was still averaging 40 to 50 miles a day. On my biggest day, I rode 134 miles in under 19 hours.”
In time, the effort began to pay off. DC’s Onewheel community continued to boom and so did Starks’ reputation. Then, on June 20, 2020, he checked the leaderboard to find Onewheel Wing in first-place.
“Hitting that #1 spot was a big victory,” Starks said. “It was so much more than just, ‘Now I'm the top-dog.’ It may be my name on the top, but I’m just the catalyst for change.”
Given that accolades were never the driving force for Starks, the title has yet to slow him down. He sees the possibilities of Onewheel extending far into the future, and that’s a movement he intends to continue leading.
“I have a lot of ideas for what I want to bring to the Onewheel community, ideas for what I want to do in the DC area, ideas for how I can use my struggle and journey to inspire others beyond our electric community,” Javier said. “If I'm going to be the leader, I gotta set a positive example.”
Story by Mike Misselwitz