On Saturday, September 13th, 2022 I had the distinct pleasure of participating in the Maryland Cycling Classic’s “Night with The Champions” and participate in a forum discussion exploring ethnic and gender diversity in cycling.
As a representative of the BPRB Board, I was asked to serve as a panelist and share my experience and view of the sport of cycling as a person of color and how stigmas need to be overcome in a predominantly white sport.
I was honored to share the stage with 4 trail blazers in the sport. Nelson Vails, the first African American to win an Olympic medal in track cycling, Mari Holden, the first Asian American woman to win an Olympic Medal, Fred Rodriguez, Latino American and the only 4 time US Pro Champion, Adrien Niyonshuti, the first black African to ride in the Olympics in the sport of cycling, and star of the award-winning documentary Rising from Ashes. Other forum speakers were Kim Coats, CEO of Team Africa Rising, and the CEO of USA Cycling , Brendan Quirk.
Former Pro Cyclist, Rahsaan Bahati, served as the forum moderator and he also has an esteemed cycling career as the former amateur USCF National Criterium Champion and USPRO Elite National Criterium Champion. He currently rides for his own cycling team, Bahati Foundation Elite Team.
Rahsaan set the stage by letting everyone present know that this conversation would be uncomfortable but necessary to tease out solutions. Lots of discussion took place around the need for youth development in the sport. Present in the audience were cycling industry executives as well as city, state and county representation from the City of Baltimore and State of Maryland. All agreed that the path forward will be tough but not impossible. It will take a concerted effort from everyone in the cycling eco system for success to occur.
Cycling is by far one of the whitest male dominated sports and without a serious intervention will remain that way. It was good to hear of the coming changes including hiring qualified BIPOC candidates, engaging in more community outreach and development, and access to more resources to accomplish this task.
I believe strongly that the path forward must start with the youth and their development as cyclist. Through experiential education and exposure, the seeds will be laid for cycling's growth and development. It was no surprise to hear that many of the accomplished cyclist present introduction to the sport came from either exposure or an experience involving cycling as a youth. We can control those moments and create the experiences that will kindle and eventually produce the outcomes desired.
Through my work with BPRB and the Major Taylor Cycling Club of Virginia, I remain committed to this task and I am working hard to make the dream a reality! I believe in my lifetime we will see more professional BIPOC cyclist and possibly one day a Tour deFrance Winner! I look forward to my continued work in this space and strengthening relationships and partnerships with the industry which will one day lead to greater representation and inclusion!