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Why This Black Cycling Group Made History

Why This Black Cycling Group Made History
Not just anyone can ride with the Brooklyn Red Caps, who have been around since the 1970s. Their long-distance, competitive trips are grueling.

Cycling’s next breakout star may come from a precinct better known for basketball — Brooklyn.

In 2017, the cycling publication VeloNews pegged Josh Hartman, the 21-year-old who grew up in East New York, as a trending American talent in track sprinting. Mr. Hartman spent part of last year living at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs in the hope of qualifying for the 2020 Games in Tokyo.

Since an early age, Mr. Hartman has been hard-wired for success (his uncle Randolph Toussaint rode for Guyana at the 1984 Games in Los Angeles). However, the spark that ignited Mr. Hartman’s love for the sport came from his initial rides as an 11-year-old around the three-mile loop of Prospect Park, with a group of cyclists called the Brooklyn Red Caps, one of New York City’s pioneering black cycling groups.

“They let me know at a young age that I had talent,” Mr. Hartman said. “I learned a lot of life skills. They taught me how to change a flat and kept me safe on rides because I was young and sometimes didn’t know what was going on. I just took their advice.”

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