I saw via Cyclelicious that it looks as though there may be a feature film about Marshall “Major” Taylor in the works. I think it’s way past due and I’m excited to see more of this film honoring the “The greatest hero America ever forgot.” Producers Scott Mednick (produced “Where the Wild Things Are”, “10000 BC”, “Superman Returns”, “Ant Bully”, “We Are Marshal”) and Michael Dubrow (Entrepreneur: Bargain.com, TouchCommerce.com, Vision Capital) will be tackling the project and I look forward to more information. I’m not certain on the format- if it will be a historical drama- the slide show below (posted by Michael Dubrow) definitely has more of a documentary feel to it.
In 1979 Columbus, Ohio became the first city to have a club honoring the famed but forgotten cyclist. Books have been written about his life, products from Nike and Soma bear his name, a velodrome in Indianapolis is named after him and there was even an Australian mini-series was made in 1992. To me, his name is synonymous with discipline, hard work and a steadfast approach to training. He always kept his head held high in the face of adversity. Unfortunately, like all too many talented individuals, he was a victim of society’s racism and the inequality of his time, retiring at 32 years old because of it.
Unfortunately, many cycling dramas are difficult to watch. I’d like to think movies like Rad, Breaking Away and Quicksilver are bad not because of the premise of the film, but because the filmmakers just missed the point. There are many films that came out in that era that have mediocre acting and seem to capitalize on whatever the fringe culture it’s based around (skateboarding, surfing, punk rock, etc.) My hope is that the filmmakers will see the story as it is, not try to dumb it down, but to use it as a something that can be inspirational. Perhaps in a similar vein as The Flying Scotsman, which I feel is one of the better cycling movies out there.
As you likely know, Major’s story does not end with “and they lived happily ever after.” He was born poor, lived an extraordinary life traveling the world as the fastest bicycle racer of his time winning 7 world championships, experienced many trials and tribulations, finally dying at 53 years old, poor and buried in an unmarked grave. (In 1948, through the efforts of a cycling club and Schwinn Bicycle Company, his grave was moved to a more respected location in the cemetery and adorned with a bronze plaque that along with his image reads: ”
Worlds’ champion bicycle racer — who came up the hard way — without hatred in his heart —
an honest, courageous and God fearing, clean living gentlemanly athlete, a credit to his race who always gave out his best —
gone but not forgotten.
Major’s focus on staying positive and living can be seen in Chris Piascik’s zine, “Good Habits for Clean Living” which is on it’s second printing and is a beautiful example of the way that his dedication has inspired people throughout the years. Chris’ zine consists of Taylor’s 12 “Good Habit for Clean Living” in illustrated fonts. Chris is making a name for himself with his illustrations as well as through his apparel company Print Brigade.
The history of bike racing is one that seems very European- which may be one reason I hold on to Major Taylor. There are many books about Taylor, you should do yourself a favor and pick one up. His story is a good one and his accomplishments were incredible. Here’s to Major Taylor!