Indianapolis has a rich cycling history as the birthplace of Marshall “Major” Taylor, an American professional cyclist. Taylor won the sprint event at the 1889 World Track Championships. He became the first African American to win a cycling world championship. Get to know Major Taylor’s story and then learn more about bicycling in Indianapolis. Get reading recommendations as well as tips for new riding routes!
The Center for Black Literature & Culture hosted an online presentation about Marshall “Major” Taylor by Michael Kranish. Watch Kranish, author of, The World’s Fastest Man: the extraordinary life of cyclist Major Taylor, America’s First Black Sports Hero. share Taylor’s journey.
The velodrome in Indianapolis is named in honor of Major Taylor. It was the first building in the city built with public funds to be named for an African American. Indianapolis won a bid to host the 1982 National Sports Festival. Since the city was short a natatorium, a track stadium and a velodrome, all three venues were built! This was possible thanks to a partnership between the Indianapolis Parks and Recreation Department and the Lilly Endowment.
In 1987, Indianapolis hosted the tenth Pan American Games. The Velodrome played host to all the track cycling events. Afterwards, the Velodrome hosted many other events including: US Olympic Festival, Junior Track Nationals; Elite Track Nationals; Masters Track Nationals; and Collegiate Track Nationals.
In recent years the venue has suffered a slow and steady decline in condition and usage. Neighboring Marian University (whose nationally ranked cycling team practices and competes at the Indy Cycloplex) has joined with Indy Parks and Recreation Department to resurrect the Velodrome as a part of the comprehensive Indy Cycloplex facility. The project is creating a new, brighter history for the property as well as a brighter future for bicycling in Indianapolis.
Learn more about Major Taylor in Kaelynn Hayes’ Racing in the Velodrome from Discover Indiana, a statewide project that makes cultural and historical information available to the public. Finally, check out all the cycling options here in Indy in How to Explore America’s Most Underrated Biking City.
A sampling from the Major Taylor photo gallery:
Featured Book List: Cycling Books
I am a lifelong cyclist and enjoy sharing my love for the sport with others.
National Bike Month
Cycling fans – celebrate National Bike Month and take these books and movies for a spin! #IndyPLAdults