The Fastest Bicycle Rider in the World
By: Major Taylor - Microcosm Publishing, $16.95
Description: Born in 1878,�bicycle racer Marshall �Major� Taylor became�the�first Black sports star to become a global celebrity when he won the world cycling championship�in 1899.
Throughout his bike-racing career, he won awards and�set records on and off the track. But in his native United States, he faced racist discrimination and violence�at every turn, causing him to spend most of his time in�Europe where fans saw his value.
After he retired from racing, Taylor�wrote and published his autobiography and traveled the world promoting it. Written in the 1920s, his story feels fresh, contemporary, and readable.
His life was too short, but his legacy lives on in the many organizations and clubs that bear his name, and the generations of new cyclists who look up to him. His intelligence,�good humor, and global perspective shine through on every page in this candid account of a remarkable life.
Verdict: This new edition of The Fastest Bicycle Rider in the World: The True Story of America�s First Black World Champion, features an introduction�by bicycle advocate Adonia E. Lugo, PhD, author of�Bicycle / Race, as well as�a foreword�by Ayesha McGowan, the first Black US woman�to be a member of a�professional road cycling team.
What this thoroughly engrossing book does is drop us into a world where bicycle factories, shops and clubs sprang up like weeds, whilst at the very same time, reveals an era where lynchings peaked in the United States (in 1892), where the largest cycling club in the country banned black members (in 1894) and Major Taylor, at 16, won his first significant race (1895).
That 75-mile road race victory, near his hometown of Indianapolis, came amid the racist threats of his white competitors. Shortly afterward, he would relocate with a benefactor to more tolerant Massachusetts, and though he would not completely leave racism behind, his career blossomed.
In 1898, he held seven world records at distances from a quarter-mile to 2 miles, and by 1899 he was the world champion - preceded only by boxing bantamweight George Dixon as an African-American world champion in any sport.
In 1899 and 1900, Taylor was the American sprint champ and became the first black athlete to compete regularly in integrated competition for an annual American championship.
Here in The Fastest Bicycle Rider in the World: The True Story of America�s First Black World Champion, we not only get a book that will have you absorbed from start to finish, but now together with an insightful foreword from Ayesha McCowan (the first African-American woman professional road cyclist) and an introduction from Adonia E. Lugo, PhD (author of Bicycle / Race: Transportation, Culture & Resistance), one feels that it completes the story; moreover, rubber stamps just how much of a genuine achievement Major Taylor made.
Inclusive of a few black and white photographs from Taylor�s own scrapbooks, the book also details the value of good habits and clean living, whilst his own noted reasoning for having written the book quite clearly lies in the fact that all he wanted to do was present the facts of his A-Z career to the rising generation of his people, without coloring or shading them in the least.
Mission accomplished, Mr. Taylor. Mission accomplished.
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