Friday, July 15, 2011

Major Taylor Club Hosts Biking in NoMi

Post, photos, and images by the Hawthorne Hawkman.

Last Saturday, the Major Taylor Bicycling Club and Bike Walk Move put on a cycling event in NoMi for people of all ages and skill levels.  The event started at 8 a.m. and I got there right on time because they offered a free tune-up.  The clouds seemed ready to drop buckets of rain on us, and I'm sure that dampened attendance somewhat.  If it rained, I had a plan:  I would get wet before I got home and dried off.

Since I arrived even before the folks doing the tune-ups, I was treated to a history lesson on Major Taylor, who was...

...the first African American world bicycling champion - in 1899.  He was only the second African American world champion in any major sport at the time, and succeeded in spite of open racism and threats of violence.  He established several world records during his 16 years of competition. In the 168 races in which he competed, he finished first in 117 and finished second in 32.  There are Major Taylor bicycling clubs across the country, and the clubs routinely meet for larger events.  Taylor's life story is as fascinating as it is inspiring, and a major motion picture about him is reportedly in the works.

Now it was time for my tune-up.

The work done here for free would have a $30-50 cost if it were done at a bike shop.  And this is money I would have gladly spent if we had a bike shop in NoMi.  As it was, I did go to a mutual Facebook friend's shop, Sunrise Cyclery, to get slow leaks in my tires fixed.  That was about $25 well spent.

By the time we were ready to depart, over thirty people had gathered.  Some were the avid cyclists with spandex that (for better or worse) left little to the imagination and bikes worth more than any car I've ever owned.  Some were families with kids' bikes that barely got off the ground.  We started at Northpoint and biked through Theo Wirth Park out to the first ring western suburbs.

Since we had novice and younger cyclists with us, the 9-mile loop was done at a very leisurely pace - far too slow for my tastes, especially since I wanted to push the limits of my newly-tuned bike.  We completed the trip at a pace of 8.66 miles per hour.  In contrast, my pace on my first trip to the Guthrie was 10.39 miles per hour.

To really compare what a tune-up does, here is a loop I did right after my tires were fixed, but before this trip:

I went nearly 30 miles, at a pace of 12.29 miles per hour.  Just the right tire pressure alone shaved 40 seconds per mile off of my regular pace.  Instead of getting to the Guthrie in fifteen minutes, I made it past the Gold Medal Park.  The first leg of the loop, from my home to the intersection of the River and Minnehaha Parkway, normally took 44 minutes.  With properly inflated tires I made it in 36.  A tuned-up bike might actually get me up to speeds that are fast enough to necessitate riding on the streets instead of the bike paths.  If I do make that transition though, I can promise this public service to all Minneapolitans:  you won't see me in spandex.


  1. What is the path you took on the Major Taylor trip Saturday? The map does not show the detail. What trail is the picture from?

  2. I apologize if my map of the route didn't make it clearer. Here's a map of bike routes in Hennepin County.

    We started at Northpoint just off of Penn and Plymouth. We took Plymouth Ave N west to Theo Wirth Parkway. After a quick jig south, we turned west on the Luce Line Trail. The map of that trail intersection is photographed in this post. We took the Luce Line trail for a few miles out to the edge of Golden Valley, and then came back the same way.

  3. Thanks! That map will come in handy; I forgot about it.

    As for the Luce Line Trail, I've been up and down Wirth Parkway over the years and have missed the link to that trail. It looks like you can go to Minnetonka and beyond.


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