Track cycling history

Track racing on bicycles began in 1870 and became huge just before the Second World War. In the US, there were the highly popular six-day races held in Madison Square Gardens in New York. These gave their name to one event still ridden today: The Madison (koppelkoers in Dutch). Author Ernest Hemingway was know for spending whole six-day events writing trackside, as well as enjoying a drink or two.

track cycling

Major Taylor in 1909

One American rider who made the vĂ©lodrome his own in the early days of track racing was Marshall Walter ‘Major’ Taylor. Taylor, a sprinter, was an important figure in sport in general. He was the first-ever African American to win a world championship in cycling, in 1899. Marshall suffered from racial discrimination throughout his career, but was nevertheless very successful on the track. He won races in Madison Square Gardens in front of up to 60,000 people. He raced in Europe in 1901 and won 42 of the 57 races he entered. He remains a giant of the sport.