Welcome to Black Is Beautiful 2023! My first pick for the year is Nelson Vails, a pro cyclist from Harlem NYC. Born in 1960, he began riding a bike as a kid and received his first track bike from a member of a motorcycle gang. Eventually he grew into it and not only became a NYC bicycle messenger but would ride in central park before and after work to train. He joined the TOGA racing team named after the famed NYC bike shop and then made the move to live and train in Europe and Japan. Nelson was known as the "cheetah" and became the 1st Black man to win an olympic medal for cycling in 1984. In 2009 he was inducted into the Bicycle Hall of Fame and has many accomplishments, He speaks 5 languages, is an innovator of cycling equipment, been sponsored by companies (Raleigh, Rensho, Rapha), produced a documentary about his life, and has served as an advocate for cycling for youth. Salute to this OG of cycling!
Sources: NelsonVails.com, The Cheetah Documentary, Rapha, Wikipedia