In the history of sport, few athletes have suffered more racial hatred, exclusion from U.S. events, death threats and acts of sabotage, than that endured by Marshall Taylor, in pursuit of the sport he loved. His efforts to succeed, against all odds, serves as an inspiration for us all.

Major Taylor Biography

at a Glance

By Lynne Tolman

November 26, 1878 -

Marshall W. Taylor is born

in rural Indiana to a black

couple who moved north

from Kentucky around the

time of the Civil War.

1886-1891 - Taylor is raised and educated in the home of a wealthy white Indianapolis family that employs his father as coachman. The family gives him a bicycle.

1892 - Taylor is hired to perform cycling stunts outside an Indianapolis bike shop. His costume is a soldier's uniform, which earns him the nickname "Major." He wins his first bike race that year.

Fall 1895 - Taylor moves to Worcester, Mass., with his employer and racing manager Louis "Birdie" Munger, who plans to open a bike factory there.

August 1896 - Taylor unofficially breaks two world track records, for paced and un-paced 1-mile rides, in Indianapolis. But his feat offends white sensibilities and he is banned from Indy's Capital City track.

December 1896 - Taylor finishes eighth in his first professional race, a six-day endurance event at Madison Square Garden in New York.

1898 - Taylor holds seven world records, including the 1-mile paced standing start (1:41.4).

August 10, 1899 - Taylor wins the world 1-mile championship in Montreal, defeating Boston rival Tom Butler. Taylor is the second black world champion athlete, after bantamweight boxer George Dixon's title fights in 1890-91.

November 15, 1899 - Taylor knocks the 1-mile record down to 1:19.

September 1900 - Thwarted in previous seasons by racism, Taylor finally gets to complete in the national championship series and becomes American sprint champion.

October 1900 - January 1901 - Taylor performs in a vaudeville act with Charles "Mile-a-Minute" Murphy, racing on rollers on theater stages across Massachusetts.

March - June 1901 - Taylor competes in Europe, which he had long resisted because his Baptist beliefs precluded racing on Sundays. He beats every European champion.

March 21, 1902 - Taylor marries Daisy V. Morris in Ansonia, Conn.

1902-1904 - Taylor races all over Europe, Australia, New Zealand and the United States, with brief rests in Worcester.

1907 - Taylor makes a brief comeback after a two-year hiatus.

1910 - Taylor retires from racing at age 32. Over the next two decades, unsuccessful business ventures and illness sap his fortune.

1930 - Impoverished and estranged from his wife, Taylor drives to Chicago, stays at the YMCA and tries to sell copies of his self-published 1928 autobiography, "The Fastest Bicycle Rider in the World."

June 21, 1932 - Taylor dies at age 53 in the charity ward of Cook County Hospital, Chicago, and is buried in an unmarked grave.

May 23, 1948 - A group of former pro bike racers, with money donated by Schwinn Bicycle Co. owner Frank Schwinn, has Taylor's remains exhumed and reburied in a more prominent part of Mount Glenwood Cemetery in Illinois.

WORCESTER, Mass. - Curriculum kits for lessons about trailblazing black athlete Marshall W. "Major" Taylor, 1899 world cycling champion, are available free to schoolteachers and youth group leaders. You can visit the Major Taylor Association website to learn more.

For more information, contact Lynne Tolman or (508) 831-0301

2012 Race Highlights - LAST YEAR

Oakland, CA. Sept 23, 2012


Mack Biggers

What a wonderful event, with great weather for racing. Even with the usual unexpected glitches, it was a huge success. For those of you who could not attend, you missed one of the most exciting events this year. With a 14 yr old, Justin Leong, winning the men’s Category 4 – 5, first race, we should have known the day was not going to unfold in the normal fashion.    
All 10 races were exciting and memorable. The Category 3 men's race was brutal. Those guys, led by a 5 man breakaway, recorded the fastest laps of the day. Even faster than the pros. But they paid dearly for the privilege, with two serious accidents, ambulance and all. After the first crash, the field was neutralized, resulting in a hugely contested restart, in which only two of the five riders in the prior breakaway, Brennan Percy and William Rose, were allowed to leave only 5 seconds early, with only five laps remaining.  The final result will be argued for years to come. In my opinion, Francois Jones was robbed. He was the strongest looking in that group of five. His third place finish (leading the peloton across the line) has got to be disheartening. As expected, Brennan and Rose finished first and second.


How about those pros? It was an unreal experience, watching Alison Tetrick bury the other women pro racers, lapping everyone in the field except Mary Maroon, who seemed lost in "no woman's land," searching to find Alison. Then there was the pro men's race. As most of you know, Rand Miller has been terror on the NorCal tarmac this year. With 9 podiums, including 6, 1st place finishes, he seemed to toy with other racers, before going in for the kill (win). But this time, at our Oakland Grand Prix, he wanted to do something special. As the reigning OGP champion, he chose our race to be his final as a competitive cyclist, saying he would be retiring to pursue a career in chemistry. Seeing what Alison had just done, he surely saw her strategy as the best way to beat Charon Smith, from the Bahati Foundation, who came up from SoCal just to take him on. With 15 podiums this year, including 12, 1st place finishes, Charon and his Bahati team possess sprinting ability that easily rivals the Rand machine.

Early in the race, Rand and one other racer broke away from the pack. Lap after lap, the two attempted to bury the field. Charon and others kept trying to bring them back. For the rest of the race, the time gap fluctuated from 7 to 15 seconds. Rand could not drop  them, while they and Charon could not catch him. Well, that is, until the last lap, when all hell broke loose.

Rand, along with his break-away partner, Charon and the others who had led the charge to catch Rand, all fell apart, exhausted, either dropping out completely or falling well behind the peleton. Rand finished 28th. What a race! Maybe Rand will change his mind and come back again next year, for just one more race for 1st.

The 2012 Oakland Grand Prix.  Like I said, one of the most exciting events of the year.

To Mark Sneed and those of you who worked so hard to make this all happen, you deserve thanks and gratitude. Because of your efforts, the OGP is headed for a bigger and brighter future.

Major Motion ahead!!!


        Marshall "major" taylor

              the best in criterium racing

The  2013  NCNCA  Premier  Series  will  conclude on September 22, with the Ninth Annual Oakland Grand Prix,  the only Oakland bicycle race on the NCNCA calendar.  The Series will end with echoes of the 2012 season, which saw excellent racing and an exciting conclusion.

The Oakland Grand Prix offers a technical, downtown course, with an uphill finish on Harrison Street, near 19th,  at Snow Park, where spectators will find plenty of room to see the final sprint to the finish.

The course is just a block from Lake Merritt and the 19th Street BART.

As in years past, The Oakland Grand Prix continues to bring high caliber bicycle racing talent to the streets of Oakland, including the likes of: Alison Tetrick (Exergy Twenty-12), Mary Maroon (Stevens Bikes), Rand Miller (Cal Giant/Specialized), Patrick Briggs (Yahoo Cycling), Kevin Kline (Yahoo Cycling), Dean LeBerge (Mike's Bikes), Andy Jacques-Mayne (Jamis Sutter Home), Sterling Magnell (Wonderful Pistachios), Rahsaan Bahati (Bahati Foundation), Ivan Dominguez, Ben Jacques-Mayne (Team Bissell), Phillip Mooney (Raleigh Bicycles), as well Charon Smith (Surf City Cyclery) and Roman Kilun (Kenda).

The 0.9 mile course is challenging and fast with great pavement, thanks to the Oakland City Government, which is committed to the success of the event.

Come out, see the action and stay for the chills and thrills, as racers reach speeds of 35MPH on a closed course.  Racing begins at 8AM with a free kid's race at noon.  The Professionals race at 3PM.

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