Major Taylor was an incredible athlete, yet the discrimination and
treatment he received on the track were horrendous. He specialized in
track racing at a time when it was quite a popular spectator sport in
the US. He was highly paid, but was refused lodging in many towns on
the racing circuit and, despite being a non-team sport, opponents would
"team" up against him in races. Still he won... and won .... and won.
He was amazing. There is a book about him that I have seen, but do not
own. Starting a Major Taylor club in Pittsburgh would be an excellent
idea. Regarding the other parts of your message, I have a couple of
1. The Virginia ride is flat but it will be challenging for newcomers
to the sport. That is a lot of miles (341) for people who have little
experience on a bike. Many people can "tough it out" for one day, but
the daily grind of seven days of riding (saddle sores, etc.) could
easily discourage new riders. Also, I believe most of the Virginia ride
is on roads and, despite the support from Adventure Cycling, riders
still have to contend with cars and traffic. That can be intimidating
to new riders. Do you plan training rides before the trip? I'm
thinking that it would be good to organize some rides of increasing
length along the many bike trails in Western PA. Then move on to roads.
If it would be helpful, I'd be happy to come along on these rides and
provide some tips on gear, bike handling, managing traffic, etc.
2. Yes, the cost of the Virginia ride is quite high. I wonder if RKMF
might be willing to entertain a supplemental grant to help support the
trip. Of course, you would know more about that.
3. You note that many of these men do not have bicycles. Last year
Bicycling Magazine (Bicycling.com) teamed up with the TREK bicycle
company to provide TREK bicycles to a small community (I can't remember
where) to test the proposition that cycling could make a difference in
the quality of life in that community. I heard that they planned to
continue this program. I can't think of a better way for them to test
their theory than with your group. Getting free bikes from TREK would
be a tremendous boost to your program. Would you like me to find out
more about this initiative?