Before Lance There was Major
You may not have heard of him but if you’re into cycling, you should. In stores now is Major, the story of turn of the century cycling champion Major Taylor. Originally from Indy, Taylor made Worcester, Massachusetts his home during his cycling heyday. As an African American athlete during the late 1800’s/early 1900’s, Taylor faced rascism and opposition at every turn. Taylor cited this in his 1926 autobiography The Fastest Bicycle Rider in the World. “I was in Worcester only a very short time before I realized that there was no such race prejuice existing among the bicycle riders there as I had experienced in Indianapolis.”
Today Worcester holds an annual cycling race to honor the great Taylor up a short, two block street in the middle of downtown Worcester: The George Street Bike Challenge. Taylor used this street as his personal training ground, repeating the short 500 foot sprint up the hill. Yes, it’s only two blocks but it is straight up. With an average grade of 18% it’s the longest two blocks of your life.
To honor Major Taylor, 3 time Tour de France winner Greg Lemond and Olympic Medalist Edwin Moses will be on hand at the Worcester Public Library this May 21, 2008 for a statue unveiling ceremony. It’s not to be missed! –Karen