Re: [CR]WTK: Anything about this Major Taylor stem....


Example: Events:Cirque du Cyclisme:2002

Date: Fri, 25 Jan 2002 17:12:37 -0800
From: Bill Bryant <Bill_Bryant@prodigy.net>
To: Questor <questor@cinci.rr.com>
Cc: classicrendezvous@bikelist.org
Subject: Re: [CR]WTK: Anything about this Major Taylor stem....
References: <9553847AECFC514B91B0F82CEB54A39204F54B@slate.stonehenge.ca> <000e01c1a5c6$91a98c40$b778d23f@apgmaa> <001301bc0b01$31404660$d7a41b41@cinci.rr.com>


It was much earlier than the 1920-30s, and long before any other widely know black sports stars such as Joe Louis or Jackie Robinson.

According to Andrew Ritchies' fine biography, Major Taylor was born in 1878 to humble origins in Indianapolis. He took up being a bike messenger as a teenager, which lead to racing. A prodigy on two wheels, he turned professional in 1896 at only age 18. He was American champion in 1898 and World Champion in 1899. He stopped racing in 1910. The book's inside dust cover sums up his impact on the cycling world well: "He was widely praised as the fastest, most stylish and entertaining, the most persistent and also the most gentlemanly performer of his day." Amen.

IMHO, he was a true sport hero and deserves every accolade given to him. In addition to being the best in the dog-eat-dog world of pro cycling where he had to be wary of both unscrupulous riders and event promoters , he also had to prove his mettle in a white-dominated world filled with racism. No one had anything but praise for his deportment and behavior throughout his life. Quite a guy by any standard.

In a poem from his autobiography, Taylor writes about his bike after his retirement from the sport with a fondness any CR member would appreciate:

A TRIBUTE TO MY SILENT STEED

I now hand up my silent steed That served my purpose well indeed Just like a true and faithful friend It stuck right by me to the end...

Now as a reward for faithfulness My trusty bike has earned its rest But not in the attic all covered with dust Nor in the cellar to get all the rust

But in my den on a pedestal tall Or better still upon the wall Where I can see it every day And it will keep the blues away

We rode to win in every race Fairly we played in every case If life grows dull and things break bad Just think of the wonderful days we've had

--Major Taylor

Alas, his poem was prophetic; things did "break bad" for Taylor. Like so many ex-sports stars of any era, he eventually lost his savings through bad investments and from being too trusting of others. Major Taylor died penniless while living at the YMCA in Chicago due to heart problems. He was only 53.

Bill Bryant Santa Cruz, CA


> Questor wrote:
>
> "Major Taylor" was the first successful (for that time) Fro-American bike
> racer during the 1920-30s.