Our bicycle historians will tell you that it was 120 years ago this very month that Minnesota was all aquiver about hosting a global bicycle event. This at a time when — again, globally — bikes were the most prominent machines on wheels. It was, in July 1899, that bike racer Major Taylor, then the fastest rider in the world, was headed for Lexington Park in St. Paul for a full day of races. Astounding accounts from that year had Taylor setting a world record for the mile at 1 minute, 19 seconds, a feat that would have required him to average about 45 miles per hour on what must have been a beast of a bike.

But Taylor never made what was apparently his career's only booked appearance in Minnesota. He was, according to reports of the day, called by managers to "return to the east" on other matters. It might or might not have mattered that St. Paul's branch of the League of American Wheelmen, sponsors of the races, had several months before decided that "Afro-Americans are excluded" from its events.

This matters now because Taylor, a black man in 19th-century America, is having a bit of a moment, 87 years after his death. A significant new biography — "The World's Fastest Man: The Extraordinary Life of Cyclist Major Taylor, America's First Black Sports Hero," by Michael Kranish — is just out. A notable previous biography, "Major Taylor: The Inspiring Story of a Black Cyclist and the Men Who Helped Him Achieve Worldwide Fame," was written by Twin Cities writers Conrad Kerber and Terry Kerber in 2014. According to Terry Kerber, LeBron James — the Major Taylor of his era? — has just bought the movie rights to that book.

And late in June, the Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota chose Louis Moore, the long-serving president and founder of Major Taylor Bicycling Club of Minnesota, for its Lifetime Service Award.

It's all at least 120 years late. But, somehow, right on time.

About that detour

Several realities have emerged in the first month of the epic detour that, because of the big Southwest Light Rail project, is daily depriving thousands of members of the riding public of three miles of the South Cedar Lake Trail from the Chain of Lakes all the way to Hopkins.

First, with most of the construction yet to begin, the riding public is gleefully ignoring the detour in droves. The South Cedar Lake Trail still is busy.

Second, it's becoming clearer that the detour's extensive use of busy, unpleasant sections of Minnetonka Boulevard might really have been unavoidable. We have this analysis from Doug Shidell, who produces the venerable and essential Twin Cities Bike Map. Shidell, who has been mapping bike routes in the region for 35 years, wrote:

"Regarding the Minnetonka Blvd. detour. I have mixed feelings about it. I used to have Minnetonka Blvd. on my bike map, but heavy traffic and a poor shoulder finally convinced me to take it off. It now has a striped bike lane on each side which makes it ride-able. My take is that the route will be useful for bike commuters and road riders, but casual recreational cyclists won't find anything about it to like. They will be much better off taking the North Cedar Lake Trail. There are alternatives to Minnetonka Blvd, but none are direct and Highways 100 and 169 will force riders back to a major street anyway. It makes a rider realize how valuable the trail had been."

Bike briefs

• Three Rivers Park District is developing a new 10-mile-long, unpaved, year-round single-track trail within Carver Park Reserve in Waconia. Construction will begin in late summer or early fall. So what's the plan? The draft design is available online at letstalkthreerivers.org.

• An experienced and valued correspondent has some reservations about the state Legislature's proposed law requiring bicycle riders overtaking other riders to announce themselves, as in, "On your left." My correspondent points out that such announcements, made assertively, can startle zoned-out riders, creating danger rather than safety. His suggestion: Precede "On your left" with "Good morning!" or simply, "Hello" which would more gently and safely announce your presence. And also, obviously, restore a bit of civility to all of our lives.

Tony Brown is a freelance writer from Minneapolis. His column appears twice a month. Reach him at mplsbikeguy@gmail.com. Read archived columns at startribune.com/bikeguy.