Cycling has a reputation for being a white manâ€™s sport, hobby, and transportation. Itâ€™s an image rooted in truthâ€”white people accounted for about 80 percent of the cycling population in the US as of 2009â€”but itâ€™s far from a complete picture. From 2001-2009, the rates of cycling among African Americans, Hispanics, and Asians grew far more than among whites. Ed Ewing is working hard to keep that trend going. He is Cascade Bicycle Clubâ€™s Director of Diversity and Inclusion and co-founder of the Major Taylor Project, a program that uses cycling to empower underserved youths in the Seattle-area.
I sat down with Ed at his office to talk about his work with the Major Taylor Project, how it got started, his history in racing, racism heâ€™s experienced as an African American cyclist, the importance of diversity, inclusion, and equity in cycling and bike advocacy, and much more. Through the course of our conversation, Ed dove deep. He discusses the systemic issues of race and discrimination, policies like neighborhood redlining, and poverty that shape the lives of the students he works with and explains how cycling is connected to all of it. As he says in the interview, itâ€™s always about more than just getting kids on bikes.
Nelson Vails was the first African American cyclist to medal in the Olympics, making history when he won the Silver in the 1984 track sprint. Before his professional cycling career, he made his living as a bike messenger in New York, which earned him a role in the famed Kevin Bacon messenger movie Quicksilver. In short, he’s an awesome figure in cycling history. He’s also one of the featured athletes in a forthcoming documentary on African American cyclists called RIDE: In Living Color. Click here to read the recent interview with RIDE’s director Yolanda Davis-Overstreet.
A few weeks ago, a teaser for a Nelson Vails documentary was posted on youtube by user stephgauger1. It’s made the rounds on cycling blogs, but nobody seems to know who’s behind its production or anything about the film beyond the stated “2013” release date. In this day and age, a movie trailer without any accompanying information pretty much constitutes a mystery. But, a little Internet sleuthing reveals that stephgauger1 is Stephane Gauger. He is one of the two filmmakers involved in Cruzin’, about a ride former professional cyclist Tony Cruz did down the length of Vietnam.
I contacted Cruzin’s production company, One World Media Group for a little information on the Nelson Vails film. Cruizin‘s director Scott Nguyen responded. He said: “As of right now we’re still in the development phase for the documentary film. It basically outlines Nelson Vails life story, his trials and tribulations, etc. We are set to shoot the film in NYC this December for an April, 2013 release.”
Yolanda Davis-Overstreet is the Director of the upcoming documentary RIDE: In Living Color. The film looks at African American cyclists through history from Major Taylor’s amazing achievements in sport to people using bikes to change their lives in present day. Most of the filming is complete and the RIDE team is currently raising money through an IndieGoGo campaign to help fund post-production work. I spoke to Yolanda about the film and its production, her background in cycling, media coverage of African American cyclists, barriers to entry in cycling for people of color, and more.