Not long after he co-founded the Major Taylor Bicycling Club of Minnesota—a nonprofit riding club geared toward African-American riders—Louis Moore and a handful of other members were riding down Park Avenue when a Minneapolis police cruiser pulled up alongside them. One officer rolled down the window of the squad car, sizing up the group.
“He looked at his partner and said, ‘Well, this is a different kind of gang,’” Moore remembers. “Then he laughed, rolled up the window, and drove off.”
When Minnesota’s Major Taylor chapter (they’d later learn there were clubs named for the African-American cycling champion in cities around the country) got its start in 1999, Moore says, the idea that black people could participate in popular sports was still novel to white folks. A group of Major Taylor-affiliated riders attracted stares when they competed in the Ironman that spring—and not just because of their electric-yellow jerseys. Everyone wanted to know who they were and what they were doing there: “You didn’t see very many black people doing these events.”
For the past 20 years, the club has made space for riders of color, teaching cycling skills and spreading the joy of riding to Minnesota’s marginalized.
Moore and other Major Taylor members advocated for the very bike infrastructure for which Minneapolis is so lauded today, serving on early iterations of the Minneapolis Bicycle Advisory Committee, the Hennepin County Bicycle Advisory Committee, and the Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota. These days, you’ll see them at organized rides and at local events like Open Streets. St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter occasionally joins a ride, and they’ve had everyone from old Minnesota Vikings to Olympic medalists roll with them.
Moore, who at 79 still rides all time, has been president since the beginning. And as chief of staff for former U.S. Rep. Martin Olav Sabo, he’s had a hand in all kinds of bike-focused projects, whether he was getting CEOs to install bike facilities on their corporate campuses or developing the Midtown Greenway (and the bridge bearing Sabo’s name that elevates the trail over Hiawatha Avenue). Moore’s contributions to the Twin Cities cycling community are so numerous that last year, the Bicycle Alliance honored him with a lifetime service award.
But for Moore, the real fun—and the real impact—is in socializing and connecting with other riders. Take Debra Stone, who showed up a few years ago pedaling an old Huffy, wearing cut-off jean shorts and an old-school foam helmet. She’d ride a mile or so and need a break—her clunky, unwieldy bicycle working against her all the way. But the club stayed with her.
“About two or three days later, she calls me and says, ‘I’m over at Freewheel on campus, can you come over and help me pick out a bike?’” Moore laughs.
She rode with them the next week and showed up on Wednesdays for the rest of the year. And she went on to help start the Minneapolis chapter of Black Girls Do Bike, a national community of support for women and girls on bicycles with chapters in major cities around the United States—not unlike the Major Taylor Bicycling Club.
Click here to read other profiles from this year's City Pages People Issue.