San Diego County, CA Authors Publish Amazon Bestselling Book on Historic Black Athlete Marshall Major Taylor

The Black Cyclone: A Hero The World Forgot, a new biographical novel by John Kennedy Howard & Rene Maurer, has been released by Dorrance Publishing Co., Inc.

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There were few Black athletes in the 1890s. Most Whites just couldn’t understand nature’s gift of speed to Black Sportsmen. Cyclist Major Taylor rose to the heights of the 19th Century sporting world, becoming the highest paid athlete – Black or White — in the world. He made his mark in the often-brutal world of period bicycle racing. It was an era when sports fans went to ballparks only when they were too late to buy tickets to the bike track. Cyclist Taylor’s tale is narrated by a Hoosier journalist, who grew up with Taylor in Indianapolis.

This story finally gives Major Taylor a voice, and quickly moves from childhood innocence when the 13-year-old prodigy accidentally entered and won an important local bike race, to a glorious nightmare of long train rides to races, training on dirt roads, and bigotry at every turn. First banned, then threatened by cycling’s sons of the confederacy, he survived a near-death experience at the hands of an elite east coast wheelmen.

With all the thrills of early NASCAR, period bicycle racing was evolving into a hard charging, dangerous, off-shoot endeavor called motor pacing, where Taylor ruled the roost. Smoking, noisy, bastardized, multi-rider contraptions represented the evolution of bicycles with motors. On a 40-degree track banking at breakneck speeds, riders, pacers, and spectators more than once ended up as fatalities. In many of his races he faced a field where a third of the riders weren’t there to win, but to doggedly make sure Taylor didn’t. As race officials looked the other way, he had to dart and elbow his way through the pack to consistently win despite the odds.

A U.S. National Champion, and then World Champion in 1899, Taylor reigned as the world’s highest paid athlete, and very much in demand on the European bike racing circuit. Desperate to escape America’s racism, he signed a contract to race abroad. European racing brought him more fame but also different challenges. Deeply believing his power came from the Almighty, he promised his mother on her deathbed that he would never race on Sundays.

But Sunday was when Europeans attended bike races. So badly did they want to see Major Taylor do battle, that the entire sport in Europe — with tens of thousands of fans — adjusted their schedules to accommodate Taylor. This true story finishes during the Great Depression with Taylor’s sad ending in a south Chicago pauper’s grave.

The Black Cyclone is told by Rene Maurer and multi-Olympic cyclist, coach, and writer John K. Howard. Howard was inducted into the USA Cycling Hall of Fame the same year as Major Taylor who received the honor posthumously.

Visit the book’s website at

“Major Taylor has to be the greatest African-American sports hero nobody has heard of. Howard and Maurer tell a compelling story.” – Earvin “Magic” Johnson, 5-time NBA champion and living legend

“Howard and Maurer’s The Black Cyclone relives the sport of cycling in its prime, when people went to the ball game only after the seats at the bike track were sold out. It was an era dominated by Major Taylor, the man who became the world’s first African-American sports hero.” – Greg Le Mond, 3-time Tour de France winner

“History is a brutal editor, and one of its victims is Marshall ‘Major’ Taylor-the first African-American to cross the color line in professional international sports. Now authors John Howard and Rene Maurer have rescued one of America’s sports heroes in their welcome book, The Black Cyclone.” – Peter Nye, Author of Hearts of Lions: The History of American Bicycle Racing

“Major Taylor’s hard road to glory demands to be depicted on the big screen, and John Howard’s telling of the story is uniquely informed and passionate. Howard and his team eloquently convey the thirst for speed that fuels a champion against the odds. The Black Cyclone will bring a trailblazer out of the shadows and inspire new generations to overcome.” – Lynne Tolman, President of the Major Taylor Association

“No one tells a champion’s story like another great champion. John Howard and Rene Maurer tell a powerful, compelling, yet bittersweet story. The Black Cyclone is the untold dramatic saga of a legendary, pioneering black cycling sports icon who battled unrelenting racism in America to become an incredible hero on all fronts more than a century ago.” – Bill Walton, Cyclist and 2-time NBA champion

“This undertaking by John Howard and Rene Maurer captures the life and time of one of America’s most amazing athletes. As our country and the world wrestles with all types of injustice and inequity, this book provides insight into the life of a true American hero, one who stood against negative forces as a shining example of perseverance and determination, one who overcame the odds to become a champion on and off the bike.” – Rashid Bahati, Director of Bahati Foundation and father of cycling champion Rashaan Bahati

“Major Taylor lived his life with the idea of excellence, and that’s one of the things that Muhammad Ali stands for.” – Lonnie Ali, Wife of Muhammad Ali

About the Authors

John Kennedy Howard has held world records at both ends of the spectrum of madness; speed and endurance. He is a 3-time Olympian and coached many national and international champions from Olympic gold medal fame to the grueling Race Across America. A cycling journalist, Howard has five book titles and hundreds of articles spanning every facet of cycling.

A native San Diegan, Rene Maurer has lived in San Diego County for most of her life. She graduated from California State University San Marcos with a BS degree in Chemistry and worked as a research scientist for a manufacturing company. She developed a love for writing and the research needed to tell a factual and compelling story. Writing about Marshall Walter Taylor, the challenges he faced as an African American during a racially-challenged era, and the people he encountered during his life’s journey was an enjoyable and challenging experience.

The Black Cyclone: A Hero The World Forgot is a 462-page paperback with a retail price of $28.00 (hardcover $40.00, eBook $23.00). The ISBN is 979-8-88683-463-5. It was published by Dorrance Publishing Co., Inc of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. For members of the press, to request a review copy, visit our virtual pressroom at or to buy the book visit our online bookstore at


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