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  • Richard L. Duquette

The Black Cyclone: A Forgotten American Hero

This is a brief story of Marshall “Major” Taylor. Born in 1878 in Indiana, a young Major was working in a bicycle shop when the owner noticed his unusual talent for acrobatic cycling. Over the next decade Major quickly rose to fame, first winning the US national Championship in 1898, then the world track championship in Montreal Canada in 1899.

On this episode, Olympic cyclists John Howard and Nelson Vails, join me to discuss Major Taylor's inspiring "against all odds" story and the upcoming film The Black Cyclone.

In this 41-minute podcast Howard explains how he met Taylor's daughter Sydney late in her life and began interviewing her in her Pittsburgh, PA home to get the inside scoop on her pioneering father's life. Howard's book Requiem For A Wheelman will be released in conjunction with the film adaptation The Black Cyclone which will seek to build on the tradition of cycling films like Breaking Away.

Major Taylor’s story is compelling in that he overcame not only stiff athletic competition, but also racial prejudice and sport politics. He was a man of principle, refusing to race on Sundays to honor his mother’s death bed wish.

As you may know, John is a three-time Olympian cyclist, Pan American gold medalist, 1981 Hawaii Ironman champion, and 1989 inductee into the U.S. Cycling Hall of Fame. He has authored or co-authored multiple books, including “Requiem for a Wheelman,” the story of Major Taylor.

Before Nelson (AKA “The Cheetah”) became the first African American bicyclist to win an Olympic medal, he made a living as a bicycle messenger in New York City, where he grew up as one of ten children. On the track, this “fast cat” won a silver medal as a sprinter in the 1984 Summer Games in Los Angeles, CA.

Nelson assisted in creating a film “trailer,” acting the role of Taylor’s coach. The role of Taylor is played by talented cyclist Rashann Bahati, whose father Rashid Bahati partnered with Howard with the business plan.

As Howard explains, Hollywood wants prospective movie entrepreneurs to have “skin in the game” before they will finance it. So, Rashid, who is experienced with packaging movies for Hollywood, has formulated a detailed financial business plan to begin the process. The production team hopes to raise 10% of the projected 20-million-dollar budget, then approach known celebrity producers Spike Lee and Denzel Washington.

This is a project that bicyclists everywhere should be thrilled to get behind.

For more information go to:


Contact Mr. John Howard at (760) 492-8870 or Mr. Rashid Bahati at (323) 781-8834. With this cast of talent to give life to the movie, they are going places!


©Richard L. Duquette, Esq. All rights reserved April 25, 2017 * 760-730-0500 * Podcast: Bicycling and The Law


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