Named for Marshall ‘Major’ Taylor, the country’s first Black cycling champion, and the U.S. Army’s 25th Infantry Bicycle Corps, an all-Black unit known as the ‘Iron Riders,’ the Major Taylor Iron Riders club of New York City is comprised largely of Black, Latino, and Asian-American riders. These riders have informed perspectives on what it means to be a person of color in the U.S. cycling scene. We are honored to share their thoughts in a regular column series on velonews.com in the coming months.
When you walk through the portal on the top of the Col du Tourmalet, and you get to see the look on your buddies’ faces, and their mouths are just agape, and you can see tears welling up in their eyes — well, that’s just the best part. These are your buddies from Brooklyn, and you know that every time they’re riding River Road back home, it’s just going to be different now.
My name is Lorenzo Brown, I grew up in Jamaica, Queens, and I’m one of the Major Taylor Iron Riders. Here at Major Taylor, we have a core group of folks who race — Darrel Tucker, Patrick Merosier, Malik Graves-Pryor, and others — and a few years ago we went over to Europe to do the Haute Route. As you know, the climbing in the Alps and the Pyrenees is absolutely insane, and it was something I wanted to share with these guys, because I’ve been coming over to Europe to ride for a few years.
The Major Taylor Iron Riders during the Haute Route. Photo: Lorenzo Brown
Going to ride those climbs in Europe literally changed my life. You ride your home roads and you think you know what cycling is, and then all of a sudden there is this entire world that opens up to you. You watch the grand tours on TV and it’s like ‘I know that climb! I know that town! There’s the shed on the Col du Glandon where I got caught in a snowstorm and took shelter until sag support could pick us up!’
I wanted to expose this feeling to as many friends as possible, and it’s been something that I’ve been able to open up to my Major Taylor friends. We’re used to riding laps in Central Park or Prospect Park, or doing the climb on highway 9W to the New York state line. At some point I was like, ‘Guys, this isn’t a climb. This would be a ripple on the way to a climb!’