Splendid Cycles Big Sale

Local company to launch Major Taylor Education Program in Portland

Posted by on February 4th, 2011 at 11:06 am

Kids in a Chicago public school participate
in a Q & A session during the Major Taylor program.
(Photo: Roger Wallette)

Retro Image Apparel, a Portland-based clothing company that specializes in designing licensed artwork into bike jerseys, will launch a local chapter of the Major Taylor Education Program.

Roger Mallette, founder and director of Retro/Micro Beer Jerseys, launched the Major Taylor Education Program in Chicago in 2007. Mallette recently approached the Trail Blazers Boys and Girls Club in North Portland and a host of other partners to get the program started here in Portland. In addition to the Boys and Girls Club, Retro’s partners on the project include John Bennenate, Director of Bicycles and Ideas for Kids’ Empowerment (B.I.K.E., a local non-profit youth racing team), Kirk Whiteman Coaching (KWC), and River City Bicycles.

Marshall “Major” Taylor (Wikipedia) was a major bike racing champion during the turn of the 19th century; but his legacy is not always remembered in American history books. A world record holder and former World Champion in 1899, he died penniless in 1932 after spending his last days living at a YMCA in Chicago. Here’s more about the youth education program (taken from a press release) that now bears his name:

“The principle thrust of the program is to create more awareness of not only Taylor’s luminous career but also his ideals and values concerning hard work and perseverance. Additionally, Retro and its partners recognize that cycle racing is not highly accessible to Black American youth and holds a vision to create connections to coaching and competitive racing in Portland.”

The program will launch at 4:00 PM on Friday, February 18th at the Trail Blazers Boys and Girls Club (5250 NE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd) in North Portland. For more information contact Roger Mallette, roger [at] retroimageapparel [dot] com.

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Michele Mallette ShermanEstherbikingpotatoDan Recent comment authors
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Awesome. The folks in Indianapolis might have some historical info for Major Taylor as well, the Major Taylor Velodrome is in Indianapolis and I seem to remember they had some neat history on the man.


Great news. While it’s in the Wikipedia article, I think it’s important to highlight that part of what makes Taylor’s career particularly impressive is that he was a competitive black athlete at the turn of the 20th century, and faced blatant racism in cycling – the American Wheelmen barred black folks from membership, Taylor wasn’t allowed to race against white folk in the South, etc.

“In his autobiography, he reports actually being tackled on the race track by another rider, who choked him into unconsciousness but received only a $50 fine as punishment. … Taylor retired at age 32 in 1910, saying he was tired of the racism.” (wiki, citing Taylor’s autobiography)


This is awesome! Props to Retro, I will try to patronize their business – it is great to hear about them getting involved in the community in this way.
And thanks to bikingpotato for the important perspective about Major Taylor. Historical perspectives are very important as we look at some of the current barriers to bicycling.

Michele Mallette Sherman
Michele Mallette Sherman

My brother, Roger Mallette, was the founder of Retro. The Major Taylor Education Program was very special to him. Sadly, he passed away on December 2nd. I hope people will continue to give to this wonderful project. I know he would be pleased.