Major Taylor was the first African-American to win the world track cycling championship. Track cycling is the one where the riders go around an indoor track as fast as possible on bikes with no brakes and no gears—just one fixed gear. For Major Taylor to win the world championship in 1899, he obviously had to train harder than everyone else and maintain focus, as racial discrimination was a major force in his racing career. (Once he started winning races, for example, tracks began banning him.) He raced as a professional from age 18 to 32, and during that time developed 12 rules by which he both raced and lived. In 2010 graphic designer Chris Piascik developed an illustration for each rule. (Below the graphic is a typed list of the rules.)
- Don’t try to “gyp.”
- Don’t be a pie biter.*
- Don’t keep late hours.
- Don’t use intoxicants.
- Don’t be a big bluffer.
- Don’t eat cheap candies.
- Don’t get a swelled head.
- Don’t use tobacco in any form.
- Don’t fail to live a clean life.
- Don’t forget to play the game fair.
- Don’t take in unfair advantage of an opponent.
- Don’t forget the practice of good sportsmanship.
*The Major Taylor Association provides this explanation of the term pie biter: “In the track races of Major Taylor’s era, teaming and cooperation between riders to physically block or ‘pocket’ a strong rider was forbidden. Major Taylor was often a victim of these corrupt practices. The term ‘pie biter’ probably refers to a rider who agrees to block a stronger rider in exchange for a share of the purse.”
[11.12.13 post, re-run]