The Black Cyclone

A Hero the World Forgot

Marshall “Major” Taylor, the Black Cyclone

It’s 1889. A young black American boy is gifted a new bicycle by the wealthy family who employs his father as a coachman.

In just ten years, he will battle against the nation’s racism to win the cycling world championships in Montreal and cement his status as a living legend.

Then, the world forgot.

By the early 1900s, the world of high-profile American sports was dominated by competitive cycling and celebrity track cyclists. From the expansive velodromes of Europe to historical six-day races inside Madison Square Garden and the hundreds of tracks that dotted the American landscape, the public had become enchanted by larger-than-life speedsters.

One of the most universally renowned of these cycling celebrities was Black American Marshall “ Major” Taylor of Indianapolis, and later the more liberal Worcester, Massachusetts. Amidst humble beginnings and the overt racism of the American South, Major Taylor set the cycling world on fire by first winning the American championship, then winning the title of world champion in 1899, and shattering numerous world records in the years to follow.

He was the first Black American athlete to be crowned a “ world champion” and the second black athlete to win a world championship in any sport. Yet, “ The Black Cyclone” is all-but-erased from many accounts of American sports history.

Discover the hero the world forgot.

Discover an intimate portrait of the modest cycling celebrity who battled against the prejudices of both his own country and his fellow competitors to climb to the very top.

Major Taylor

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John Kennedy Howard

The Story Tellers

John Kennedy Howard

John Kennedy Howard is a world record holding cyclist and Ironman World Champion who found inspiration in Major Taylor’s story when he very first picked up his autobiography.

As a cyclist, Howard represented the US on three Olympic cycling teams, and he won 19 elite and masters national championships.

He has been inducted into both the US cycling and triathlon Halls of Fame, and he has set world records at both ends of the cycling spectrum.

Howard’s evolution into coaching through his School Of Champions has produced hundreds of world-class cyclists, including those competing in masters, Olympic, Paralympic, and Ironman categories.

Howard is the author of five previous books on cycling technique and the worlds of competitive racing: The Cyclist’s Companion, Multifitness, Pushing The Limits, Dirt! and Mastering Cycling.

John Kennedy Howard B&W

Rene Maurer

Rene Maurer has lived in San Diego County for most of her life. She graduated from California State University San Marcos with a BS degree in Chemistry and worked as a research scientist for a manufacturing company.

Converting her research efforts into words sparked a love for writing and a deep understanding of the research needed to tell a factual and compelling story. For Rene, unraveling the mostly untold stories of Marshall Taylor and his triumphs over historical racism was a thrilling and inspiring challenge.



Earvin “  Magic” Johnson

5-time NBA champion and living legend

“ Major Taylor has to be the greatest African-American sports hero nobody has heard of. Howard and Maurer tell a compelling story.”

Greg Le Mond

3-time Tour de France winner

“ Howard and Maurer’s The Black Cyclone relives the sport of cycling in its prime, when people went to the ball game only after the seats at the bike track were sold out. It was an era dominated by Major Taylor, the man who became the world’s first African-American sports hero.”

Peter Nye

Author of Hearts of Lions: The History of American Bicycle Racing

“ History is a brutal editor, and one of its victims is Marshall ‘Major’ Taylor—the first African-American to cross the color line in professional international sports. Now authors John Howard and Rene Maurer have rescued one of America’s sports heroes in their welcome book, The Black Cyclone.

Lynne Tolman

President of the Major Taylor Association

“ Major Taylor’s hard road to glory demands to be depicted on the big screen, and John Howard’s telling of the story is uniquely informed and passionate. Howard and his team eloquently convey the thirst for speed that fuels a champion against the odds. The Black Cyclone will bring a trailblazer out of the shadows and inspire new generations to overcome.”

Bill Walton

Cyclist and 2-time NBA champion

“ No one tells a champion’s story like another great champion. John Howard and Rene Maurer tell a powerful, compelling, yet bittersweet story. The Black Cyclone is the untold dramatic saga of a legendary, pioneering black cycling sports icon who battled unrelenting racism in America to become an incredible hero on all fronts more than a century ago.”

Rashid Bahati

Director of Bahati Foundation and father of cycling champion Rashaan Bahati

“ This undertaking by John Howard and Rene Maurer captures the life and time of one of America’s most amazing athletes. As our country and the world wrestles with all types of injustice and inequity, this book provides insight into the life of a true American hero, one who stood against negative forces as a shining example of perseverance and determination, one who overcame the odds to become a champion on and off the bike.”

Lonnie Ali

Wife of Muhammad Ali

“ Major Taylor lived his life with the idea of excellence, and that’s one of the things that Muhammad Ali stands for.”

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