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MAY — 2019 

by Bob Bernstein
I hope that this finds you all enjoying the pleasures of your wheeled, human powered conveyances regardless of the number of wheels; regardless whether you are leaning forward, sitting upright, or sitting back; regardless of whether you are wearing spandex or a tee shirt and jeans. I gave over this column the past few months to your Vice Presidents so that they could share with you the outstanding work that is being accomplished in their areas. I am going to take the column back and discuss a few items that cross all boundaries of Club administration.

I want to welcome Jamie Geraghty and the other members of the Cumberland Valley Bicycle Club (CVBC) to the Potomac Pedalers. Their club has had difficulty finding volunteers to run their club and other problems. Basically, they are experiencing the same problems that we are facing but with more members, we are better able to mitigate. With CVBC members posting rides, our large geographic area has grown. The good news is that there is the potential for leading or attending rides in a large and diverse region. The bad news is that it may be more difficult to sort through the listings to find the ride you want that does not entail a long drive. The ExCom is looking into ways to make looking for rides easier so stay tuned.

By David T. Whitaker
Now in their third year, the Maryland Endurance Challenge is a nationally recognized ultramarathon cycling event that is open to top ultramarathon cyclists and to amateur cyclists. It is an opportunity to test yourself against the clock to see how far your bicycle and legs will take you over a predetermined, non-mountainous, course along the well paved and little trafficked roads in north Frederick County, MD.

W e’re bringing back the coveted summer weekend trip to the Shenandoah Valley! Join us in July for a weekend of rolling hills, sightseeing on pedal and foot, and excellent company. We’re introducing a revamped weekend with an exciting, comfortable new venue in Woodstock, which features a mix of old favorite points of interest and new sightseeing opportunities. Cycling AND hiking routes will take riders and explorers through the New Market Battlefield, close to the George Washington National Forest, and through the rolling and verdant hills of quiet Northwest Virginia.

Hey Potomac Pedalers - Have you ever wanted to bicycle the complete C&O Canal towpath from Cumberland down to Georgetown? For many DC area cyclists, the C&O Canal ride is a “bucket list” item that many of us would like to do, although the logistics often prove to be an obstacle.

Well now, here is your opportunity to “Pedal the Potomac” along the complete C&O Canal and ride through our own incredibly scenic national park. The C&O Canal National Historical Park follows the Potomac River from historic Cumberland, Maryland through to Georgetown in the District of Columbia. The C&O Canal National Historical Park is the ninth most visited National Park in the nation, with over 5 million visitors a year. It features a 184.5 mile towpath that for most of the trail is adjacent to the Potomac River. It is the ride to Washington that has been a mainstay for DC area cyclists since the 1970’s.\

DC Bike Ride is a celebration of the two-wheel lifestyle held during the city’s National Bike Month on Saturday, May 18, 2019. DC Bike Ride is the region’s ONLY closed-road, car-free, recreational bike ride. The closed-road course will bring over 7000 participants past some of the most beautiful sight lines DC has to offer with the monuments and the memorials. The course will also feature pit stops with snacks, photo stations and entertainment to get you pumped up on the ride. 

Register at:  

By Michael Kranish
Author, “The World’s Fastest Man: The Extraordinary Life of Cyclist Major Taylor, America’s First Black Sports Hero.
One day 18 years ago, I traveled to Pittsburgh to meet a 96-year-old woman named Sydney Taylor. At the time, I was a reporter for the Boston Globe, and I wanted to write a magazine story about her father, Major Taylor. A half century before Jackie Robinson broke the color line in Major League Baseball, Taylor had become the first American-born black world champion in any sport. He was a cyclist at a time when bicycle races were the most popular athletic competitions in America.

Sydney, named after the Australian city where she was born, and her father had raced, told me stories both sad and wonderful. She remembered cheering for her father at races in Paris, where he had become the toast of Europe. But she also recalled how badly her father was treated, the death threats, the racism, the unfairness of it all.

After the Boston Globe magazine published the story, I was overwhelmed with reaction from readers in the days when comments came via old-fashioned letters. It was published the weekend after the September 11 attacks, and many people told me Taylor’s story had given them something inspirational at a time when they needed it. The response led me to think me about writing a book that would tell not just about Taylor’s life, but also about the era in which he lived, when the racist policies of the Jim Crow era intersected with the ostentatious grandeur of the Gilded Age.

Taylor, it turned out, was one of the most chronicled African-Americans of his day, the late 1890s and early 1900s. Thousands of articles were written about him around the world, in myriad languages. He was a favorite subject of early practitioners of sports photojournalism. Over the years, I collected many of these stories and photographs, read histories of the era, and gradually began assembling material for a book.
The more I studied Taylor and his time, the more his courage and skill impressed me. It was hard enough to win against the world’s fastest cyclists. His competitors tried to keep him off the race course – ostensibly due to Jim Crow restrictions, but in reality because they knew he could beat them and disprove the false rationale for their prejudice. His races were promoted as “white versus black,” and he embraced his role, knowing that he could provide hope at a time when the government so often used its power against African Americans.

Taylor became the world’s fastest man, setting records for speed and becoming champion at an international competition in Canada. He was, as the subtitle of the book puts it, America’s first black sports hero. Today, while many people may have never heard of him, more cyclists and non-cyclists alike are increasingly embracing his story, creating and joining clubs that carry his name. Often, I have found myself on a club ride, or elsewhere, pedaling next to someone who happens to be wearing a jersey bearing Taylor’s image. I cannot resist the urge to tell them that I once interviewed Taylor’s daughter and that my shelves are filled with stories of his career. More than once, I said that one day I would finish a book about him.

Now, all these years later, that book is being published on May 7. I invite you to read his story, and, if you are able, to join me at a talk at Politics and Prose on Sunday May 19 at 5 p.m. (after your ride is finished!). The bookstore location is: 5015 Connecticut Avenue NW, Washington, D.C. 20008

For more information about the talk, visit:

For more information about the book, and to contact me, visit:
Michael Kranish is an investigative political reporter for The Washington Post. He is the author of “Flight from Monticello: Thomas Jefferson at War.” He is the co-author of the Boston Globe’s biographies of John F. Kerry and Mitt Romney and the Washington Post’s biography of Donald Trump.

By Leslie Tierstein
I recently had to go to Baltimore. I was looking forward to it, partly because the trip gave me the opportunity to try out roll-aboard bike access on the MARC train Penn line. Bicycle access was started about a year (?) ago on weekend trains and very recently extended to weekday trains .

There are actually two types of bike accommodations. On the trip from DC to Baltimore, the conductor directed me to the first car of the train, the bike car. There were racks for twenty or more bikes on the floor along one side of the car and seats on the other. Very nice, except a long walk to the stations at both ends of the trip.

On my return trip I was directed to one of the double-decker cars (which make up most of the train). On the entry level were two bike racks. Unfortunately, they’re the kind where you have to hang the bike by the front wheel. Not happening. I just bungied the bike to the rack. The conductor didn’t object, maybe because I was the only passenger in the car. These must be the cars that are used on the weekday trains.