Marshall Walter “Major” Taylor (26 November 1878 – 21 June 1932) was an American cyclist who won the world 1 mile (1.6 km) track cycling championship in 1899 after setting numerous world records and overcoming racial discrimination. Taylor was the first African-American cyclist to achieve the level of world champion and only the second black man to win a world championship in any sport — after Canadian boxer George Dixon. (Wikipedia)
In the 1890s Worcester, Massachusetts was the capital of a very robust bicycling sport and industry in the United States. The city hosted six bicycle manufacturers and thirty bicycle shops with most of the bicycle shops fielding a racing team which competed in the many regional and national racing competitions.
In addition to winning the world one mile championship, Taylor won many other titles and at one point held the world record for seven different racing events. After his death in 1932, Taylor and his feats faded into history and he was largely forgotten in Worcester and in the nation’s bicycling community.
During the last 30 years the bicycling community has rediscovered its iconic champion. A few years ago Worcester placed a sculpture of the rider in front of the city’s public library and the major cycling association in the city holds an annual competition called the “Major Taylor George Street Hill climb“.
Held on George Street which is reputed to be the steepest street in Massachusetts and also the street on which Taylor trained during his race preparations, race contestants run time trails up the 500 yard street.
The event draws professional and amateur riders from all over the east coast and although the race only lasts a little over twenty seconds for the best riders, the stress on their quads lasts for days!
The race includes brackets by age and several multi-rider categories. This is a Father/Son team…..notice the look on the son’s face!
This is Major Taylor’s great-grandson who lives in the Boston area and participates in the event each year.
These guys have some serious hair!
About 20% of the riders fail to make it up the hill. It’s only 500 yards but gravity often wins!
She’s competing in the 60-70 age bracket and finished 2nd. Awesome!
The competition is held in August each year and in 2015 it was cancelled because of rain. These photographs are from a race held several years ago.
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