news Major Taylor: Recognized, Honored, Yet Still Not Quite Famous In America

On Thursday, July 27, Marin Museum of Bicycling will host an illustrated talk on Marshall “Major” Taylor, one of the greatest bicycle racers of all time. Taylor, a black man who was just 17½ when he became a professional racer in 1896, faced harsh discrimination as he integrated the sport in the United States. In the booming international bike racing scene of the time, he became a star and well-respected celebrity.

The speaker will be historian Andrew Ritchie, author of Major Taylor: The Extraordinary Career of a Champion Bicycle Racer. Copies of the newly released paperback of the third, illustrated edition, are available for purchase at the museum.

At the dawn of the 20th century, Indiana native Major Taylor became one of the best paid athletes in the world. His 1901 races in Paris were said to have drawn the biggest crowds ever seen at sporting events. But his events in the US were marked by racist opposition from white riders who disliked racing against him, and especially hated being beaten by him. To succeed took courage, persistence, superb athletic qualities and hard training—and self-discipline in provocative situations.

Late in his life Taylor wrote an autobiography: The Fastest Bicycle Rider in the World. But his story is a rags-to-riches, riches-to-rags saga. His life ended in anonymous poverty in Chicago.

Andrew Ritchie will show images collected over his 40-year quest to illuminate the story of Taylor’s life. Andrew has interviewed Taylor’s daughter, Sydney Taylor Brown, and researched his career in archives in London, Paris, Chicago and Boston. Andrew Ritchie is one of today’s foremost writers on cycling history. His other books include King of the Road: An Illustrated History of Cycling [1975]and Quest for Speed: A History of Early Bicycle Racing, 1868–1903 [2011].

When: Thursday, July 27 – 7:00 to 8:30 PM (Doors open at 6:15 PM)
Where: Marin Museum of Bicycling, Fairfax
Tickets: Advance tickets available through Eventbrite.

Tickets are $10 per adult ($5 for students and Marin Museum of Bicycling members). Tickets can be purchased in advance at the museum, online, or at the door the evening of the event. Online ticket sales end at 5:00 PM the day of the show. Tickets will remain available at the door on a first-come, first-served basis. 

All proceeds benefit the Marin Museum of Bicycling.

Advance ticket purchase is recommended. Refreshments available. All proceeds benefit the Marin Museum of Bicycling.

The Marin Museum of Bicycling is an all-volunteer 501(c)(3) educational non-profit organization. The museum is a comprehensive bicycle museum and cultural center. Open since 2015, the museum is also home to the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame. For regular hours, admission fees and membership information, please see the museum’s web site: .

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