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Cheetah: The Nelson Vails Story
REI Seattle
Seattle, WA
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Cheetah: The Nelson Vails Story
Cascade Bicycle Club and the Rainier Riders present the premiere of "Cheetah:  The Nelson Vails Story".  

Nelson Vails was the youngest of 10 children growing up in the Harlem projects and worked as a New York City bicycle messenger to support his family. His story is a triumph over almost insurmountable odds, echoing the achievements of pioneer cyclist Marshall "Major" Taylor. Nicknamed "The Cheetah" because he was the fastest cat in the jungle, Vails rode furiously while working, trained in Central Park after work, and raced locally on weekends. Having to support his family while taking a bigger interest in racing, Vails worked as a bike messenger in Manhattan, where the skills of dodging traffic became instrumental to his instincts on the pro racetrack.

Soon enough, his talent was discovered by Olympic scouts, and he was invited to train for the 1984 USA team. Vails was thrust on to the world stage during that summer when the media caught wind of his story.

Becoming a pioneer for the African American cycling community, this documentary explores the beginnings of his life in Harlem and his impact on the future generation of cyclists. It follows the triumph of Nelson's achievements with the sobering reality of what becomes of athletes after retirement. We see Nelson's resurgence today as an advocate for recreational cycling and as a role model for the African American community, by becoming inducted into the bicycling Hall of Fame in 2009. In the end, Nelson's story is simply about a kid whose love for the bicycle led him to transcend racial and economic barriers to become a legacy.



REI Seattle (View)
222 Yale Street
Seattle, WA 98109
United States

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Kid Friendly: Yes!
Dog Friendly: No
Non-Smoking: Yes!
Wheelchair Accessible: Yes!


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