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Albert B. Southwick

bicyclist, was born Marshall Walter Taylor in Indianapolis, Indiana, one of eight children of Gilbert Taylor and Saphronia Kelter, free blacks from Kentucky who moved to Indianapolis after the Civil War. Gilbert, a veteran of the Union army, became a coachman for a well-to-do white family, the Southards, whose son became Marshall's close friend. According to Taylor's autobiography, he spent his childhood years playing with upper-class white children and was able to have his own bicycle. In his teens Taylor found work in bicycle shops, where his phenomenal trick riding skills attracted crowds and caught the attention of shop owners. They outfitted him in a flashy uniform and nicknamed him “Major,” a name that became his trademark for the rest of his life. When Taylor won his first race at age thirteen, Louis D. Munger a bicycle manufacturer saw his potential and took the lad under his ...


Douglas Fleming Roosa

Olympic cyclist, was born in Harlem, New York City, the youngest of the ten children of Robert Vails, a hospital orderly, and Louise Barnwell, a nurse. Nelson grew up in the Martin Luther King Towers housing project near Central Park. His childhood cycling experience was typical: a new bicycle for Christmas and days spent riding with friends. He received his first ten-speed racing bike from his older brother Ronnie, who used to race bicycles. In 1976 Vails began to ride recreationally in Central Park, a popular venue for area cyclists. He soon joined on rides with the Century Road Club, a bicycle racing club operating out of Central Park. The inexperienced but persistent Vails drew attention from club members, including Avalos York, an inveterate teacher of young cyclists, who mentored Vails and introduced to him the proper techniques of competitive bicycle riding.

In 1978 ...