An Amusement & Diversion for The Genteel Cyclist. Daily.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Know yer cycling history


Cycling isn't as popular in the African American community as it is in the white community, but that's beginning to change. In Minneapolis, there's a newish club for black riders, called the Major Taylor Cycling Club that was originally organized to help black riders train for the Minneapolis-Chicago AIDS ride. It's named for an American world champion, and that's pretty cool.

Marshall “Major” Taylor was born in Indianapolis in1878, and during adolescence he became a helper in a bike shop that racers would often frequent. After the owner gave Taylor a bicycle, he began to enter and win races. In fact, he won 132 out of 157 races. In 1899 he became the world champion of bicycling. “It is important to understand that during that time bicycling was as big as professional football is today,” Moore says.

In fact, Major Taylor was the second world champion of African descent in any sport, after Canadian boxer George Dixon. Furthermore, according to a 2003 exhibit on the turn-of-the-20th-century bicycle craze shown at the Red Mill Museum Village of Clinton, New Jersey, Taylor was the first American world champion in any sport.

And for extra credit, for all you Minnesota ice bikers: Didja know there was an African American pro hockey league, too?

3 comments:

Linden said...

The image in your post looks just like a DVD case, when I saw it I was really hoping that someone had somehow made a worthy documentary about MT's life/career. What a great addition that would be to the Bike Film Fest.

verlaine said...

Once I was out on the Midtown Greenway by Uptown MPLS and thought I was being pretty hardcore and keeping a fair speed going and I saw a huge line of bikes coming the opposite way at me at a mind-blurring rate of speed.

When they went by me it was like I was an economy car and a semi truck just went by me the opposite direction at about 100 miles an hour.

I whipped my head around just in time to cath the words "Major Taylor" on a jersey. To say it was impressive would be a major understatement.

The first thing I did when I got home was look up the source of the name, and to hear the stories of Major Taylor being chocked unconscious and the other stories of racial intimidation was a real eye-opener.

More people should take the time to read his story. It puts perspective on things.

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