Diversifying Start Lines & Breaking the Mold

Beyond the Lycra celebrates the stories told through custom performance apparel.

Lining up in downtown Emporia this year, you’ll find 65 BIPOC athletes in matching Major Taylor kits. Whether they’re seasoned pros or it’s their inaugural gravel race, they’re all there for the same reason: to push their limits and diversify the startlines. In a two-year collaborative project with Garmin Unbound Gravel, Major Taylor Cycling Club – Kansas City (MTCCKC) is bringing BIPOC cyclists from across the country to experience the world-renowned terrain of the Flint Hills.

“By us being cyclists of color, we’re always the minority wherever we show up. We’re used to that environment, but to get into somewhere where it’s acknowledged that we are a minority, and something is being done to include us and provide representation – that is a great thing.”

“We have been able to attract a rainbow of people – young, old, and all across the United States. Our club represents that, and we are working on diversifying this event and getting into other mediums of cycling, too”, explains Mitchell Williams, president of the Major Taylor Club in Kansas City. Last year with the gravel hype only building, Mitchell felt Major Taylor clubs mostly align with road riding, but he wants riders in gravel, cyclocross, MTBing, or really, any off-road cycling mediums. “We want to excel at what we do. Major Taylor himself did all types of events; he even did tricks on his bike! Many of our riders wouldn’t even think of the things that Major Taylor did, and we don’t want to pigeonhole ourselves.”

“Our focus is to successfully complete the event – to overcome our weaknesses and challenge ourselves to complete an event that is a little bit beyond ourselves right now.” 

Getting to Emporia

Anyone who has put in the saddle time for a long, hard ride knows what it takes to cross the finish line. It’s not just physically completing the ride, but what happens when you push further than thought possible. “It’s easy to just show up and participate, but after talking to your members and answering the questions for Unbound, we all have struggles we are dealing with. Our focus is to successfully complete the event – to overcome our weaknesses and challenge ourselves to complete an event that is a little bit beyond ourselves right now. To be able to prove to ourselves you can do more than you think can,” shares Mitchell. Right now, the goal is to support 65 riders for at least two years. To help make this possible, MTCCKC is selling a limited edition Unbound Gravel + Major Taylor kit design as a fundraiser.

The design is done by Andrew Harris, with the concept collaboration brought to you by Andrew and Seitu Barnes. The same designers who also created Major Taylor x BLM Kit Collection in support of the NAACP. 

“By us being cyclists of color, we’re always the minority wherever we show up. We’re used to that environment, but to get into somewhere where it’s acknowledged that we are a minority, and something is being done to include us and provide representation – that is a great thing.”

The CAN Project

The CAN Project

While riding on an adaptive bike, Tom Morris was confronted over having an e-bike on a trail last...

read more

Lifetime Quality

We will replace or repair any garments that fall short of our Quality Commitment.

Fitness Flexibility

If you need to downsize due to weightloss, we will happily provide you with a new garment for free (and a “heck yeah!”). 

Crash Replacement

If a Champion System product is made unwearable by a recent crash, we'll replace a garment for free.