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Ken's story: Major Taylor Invitational

BaseCamp alumnus Ken Carl shared his experience at the Major Taylor Invitational in Indianapolis, Indiana.

The Inaugural Major Taylor invitational brought together MTC (Major Taylor Cycling Clubs) from across the USA to Indianapolis in recognition of Juneteenth and the universal joy of cycling. The "why" of riding a bike is found in the shared joy that has no boundaries and speaks all languages. Ride fast or not so fast, it does not matter; the rolling wheels of positive communication, connection, support, and joy are bright for all. There were three days of structured rides. MTCCs from LA to NY and all whistle stops in between represented. Chicago (my home club) had 20 riders. There was also a powerful exhibit speaking to the astounding, cycling-world-changing history of Major Taylor. If you have the opportunity, it is worth the travel to see the exhibit. If you are unfamiliar with Major Taylor, I am not surprised; he has been for a long time lost to general public. Hard to imagine an American champion who smashed through all the barriers of racial and physical to become a true G.O.A.T. was buried in an unmarked grave with barely a whisper.

The celebrations began Friday evening with an easy introduction roll to the Major Taylor Velodrome where the National Championships were being held. Saturday was the unofficial throw-down day as each club launched their big dogs. Proud to say I represented MTCC Chicago and Team BaseCamp well. I will say I did not count myself as a "big dog" in the Chicago Club; usually I am the B team with call-up potential. This day I was all A team. We got caught in the traffic jam of the group rollout. Jim, our true big dog, quickly assessed the situation. Go time was now or never, and he began his roll to catch the lead pack. Austin (my cycling pal since 1983, 40 freaking years! ), a few others, and I quickly formed a team pursuit. Jim, Austin, and I crossed the bridge before it collapsed. Jim (by far the strongest of our three) formed the tip of the spear. In order to survive, I realized I had only one workable strategy: rotate in the top ten, limit pulls to simple show and go, avoid hill racing, and eat and drink consistently. There were two planned refuel stops. It became clear after the first hour they were not happening, at least for this 100K express train. Thankfully I had two full bottles of SIS mix and had preloaded perfectly before the ride. Everything worked. I had my best three hours on the road, and even with all the stop signs, traffic challenges, and 1100 feet of climbing, finished in 2:57. For me that is above primetime. In the past 45 days, I have seen and important felt the deep training of BaseCamp paying major dividends. This was my third level-up ride.

Beyond all the fast fun, the true reason of the weekend was the highlight: meeting, riding, and supporting a shared vision. Creating a foundation of what I expect to be an ever-growing event, not only in numbers, but also in the importance to our riding community. Hope in humanity was bright and strong in Indianapolis.


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