Katherine Towle Knox (October 7, 1874 – October 11, 1900) was a bicycle racer and the first African American to be accepted into the League of American Wheelmen (LAW).
Knox joined LAW in 1893 at a time when few women were members. The organization changed their constitution to only allow white members in 1894. In 1895 the organization clarified that constitutional changes are not retroactive and Knox's membership in the group was no longer questioned. Knox persisted in racing despite sometimes being denied access to races as well as service by restaurants and hotels while traveling. Knox was known both for her cycling ability, taking first place in a LAW meeting Waltham, Massachusetts, as well as her fashionable cycling outfits. Unlike her male counterparts of the time, much attention was given to her appearance and wardrobe. She was a strong rider, participating in and completing several century rides.
Marshall Walter "Major" Taylor (November 26, 1878 – June 21, 1932) was an American professional cyclist. He was born and raised in Indianapolis, where he worked in bicycle shops and began racing multiple distances in the track and road disciplines of cycling. As a teenager, he moved to Worcester, Massachusetts, with his trainer and had a successful amateur career, which included breaking track records.
As the sun set on their first day, the men of the 25th Infantry Bicycle Corps were cold, tired, and soaking wet. And they still had nearly 1,900 miles to go.
It was summer 1896. The 20 members of the 25th Infantry, an all-black company out of Fort Missoula, Montana, had been volunteered by their white commanding officer, 2nd Lt. James Moss, to study the feasibility of using bicycles in the military, which, unlike horses, required no food, water, or rest.
Moss was allowed to lead his men on a near-2,000-mile journey from Missoula to St. Louis, Missouri. The weather was punishing, the ride gruelling, and the water poisonous. The men of the 25th were selected for the experiment, frankly, because as soldiers, they were worth little to the U.S. military.
Maurice Burton (born 25 October 1955) Former British Track Cycling Champion.
Born in London to an English mother and a Jamaican father, Maurice Burton was the first black British champion in cycling. His first taste of success came when he won the Junior Sprint national title in 1973. He won the amateur scratch title the following year, raced over a 20 km distance although he was booed as he crossed the line. He went on to represent Britain at the 1974 Commonwealth Games, but was not selected for the Olympic squad in 1976.
Burton became frustrated by the racism pervasive in Britain at the time, he moved to Belgium in 1977, basing himself in Ghent. He was described as the first black professional cyclist.
Burton rode 56 professional Six Day events, and retired from competitive cycling after a serious racing accident at the Buenos Aires Six Day in 1984.
Nelson Beasley Vails (born October 13, 1960) is a retired road and track cyclist from the United States. He rode as a professional from 1988 to 1995 representing the USA at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, California, where he won the silver medal in the sprint, behind countryman Mark Gorski. Vails was the first African-American cyclist to win an Olympic medal and he was inducted to the US Bicycle Hall of Fame in 2009.
Vails was also seen as a New York bicycle messenger in the film Quicksilver. He didn't just play a bicycle messenger in "Quicksilver," he worked as one in New York City. His nickname was "The Cheetah.". After his sporting career he has worked as a cycling commentator for major TV networks and taken part in cycling safety programs.
At the end of 2002 , David Kinjah became the first black African rider to sign a professional contract in Europe with the Alexia Alluminio team. Where he quickly earned the nickname “Lione Nero” (The Black Lion) as he successfully became a serious contender among the pro ranks.
The Tour de France had never had a black cyclist in 108 years until the 31-year-old Guadeloupe native became the first black rider to finish the brutal race.
Cycling courier and music teacher Ayesha McGowan took up racing in 2014, and promptly won a state championship in her third ever race. Fuelled by her passion for the sport, McGowan has embarked upon a mission to become the first female African-American pro racer.