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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Major Taylor



"Life is too short for a man to hold bitterness in his heart."
Marshall W. "Major" Taylor

A hundred years ago, when bicycle races drew crowds that filled Madison Square Garden, the biggest draw of all was Major Taylor.

The New York race promoters who signed 19-year-old Marshall W. "Major" Taylor to their team in 1898 knew that fans would flock to see "the Worcester Whirlwind" compete. They also knew that controversy surrounding "the Colored Cyclone," whose star was rising in muscular defiance of the Jim Crow segregation permeating the sport, was sure to generate headlines.

And any kind of publicity would be good for the box office.

Today, Taylor's name is still an attraction. When the Seven Hills Wheelmen bicycle club of Worcester renamed its annual 100-mile ride the Major Taylor Century in honor of the 1899 world champion who lived here, the ride's appeal was suddenly extended.

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