In an extraordinary collaboration between Dope Nerds, and celebrity artist Robert Hansen, The Baltimore Times presents a groundbreaking and immersive exhibition experience during the Maryland Cycling Classic weekend. ”Pedals of Resilience: A Journey of Triumph,” a pop-up exhibition, will be open September 1-3, 2023, beginning at 12 p.m. at Baltimore’s Inner Harbor Light Street Pavilion. The exhibition is a celebration of the rich history of Black cyclists, presenting their stories through the lens of technology and interactivity. This ambitious endeavor aims to illuminate the struggles, triumphs and contributions of Black cyclists throughout history while fostering a more inclusive cycling culture.
At the heart of this exhibit lies a profound purpose – to tell the story of Black cyclists across the ages, chronicling their journey of resilience and triumph. By merging the creative energies of a local media newsroom and a Baltimore-based technology company, the immersive experience merges storytelling and technology into a seamless fusion. This endeavor is not just a passive display; it’s an interactive journey that transports participants through time, tracing the legacy of Black cyclists from 1899 to the present day.
Central to this experience is the homage paid to Baltimore’s historical significance in the world of cycling. The city was home to the first cycling championship, making it a fitting backdrop for a tribute of this magnitude. The exhibition mirrors the journey of these trailblazers, highlighting their movement through resistance, barriers and breakthroughs. As participants engage with the interactive displays, they gain a newfound sense of pride, appreciation and inspiration, regardless of their background.
The immersive experience culminates in a vision of the future – the reimagined Inner Harbor. This aspirational depiction serves as a testament to the progress achieved and the potential for growth in cycling culture in Baltimore. The exhibition, which is both educational and free to the public, is more than a mere recounting of history; it’s a conduit for storytelling aided by the latest technological innovations.
A key attraction of the exhibit is the Virtual Reality (VR) Cycling Education Experience. Through VR, visitors can virtually join the ranks of Black cycling legends such as Marshall “Major” Taylor, the world’s fastest man; Olympian cyclist Nelson Beasley Vails; championship cyclist Rahsaan Bahati; and Cory and Justin Williams, championship cyclists and advocates for diversity and inclusion in the sport. This interactive journey allows participants to race alongside these prominent figures, tracing the evolution of cycling in Baltimore and ending at the iconic Pratt Street finish line.
Augmented Reality (AR) is another avenue through which the exhibit comes alive. Merging art and technology, an AR experience lets visitors explore the life and legacy of Marshall “Major” Taylor. This iconic Black cyclist, renowned as the world’s fastest man over a century ago, is brought to life through custom art created by celebrity artist Robert Hansen. By scanning the art piece using the designated app, visitors can access an auditory account of Taylor’s inspiring story, effectively turning history into a dynamic educational experience. Robert Hansen, celebrity artist and creator of the art piece, entitled “Relative Velocity” has a history of exploring advances in technology.
For visitors seeking an even more personal connection, the Audience Intelligence Experience offers a unique opportunity. Participants have the chance to be featured on the cover of The Baltimore Times’ Special Edition Maryland Classic Cycling Issue. Through the application of artificial intelligence, visitors can pose on a stationary professional riding bike alongside famed Black cyclists, capturing a moment of shared fame.
At the heart of this revolutionary venture lies Dope Nerds, a tech company driven by the visionary Ursula Spencer. A prodigy in the tech world from a young age, Ursula founded Dope Nerds at just 21 years old. What sets Dope Nerds apart is its status as the only Black-owned, woman-owned VR solutions provider in the United States, with its headquarters located in Baltimore, Maryland. Spencer’s remarkable journey epitomizes breaking barriers, as her company is not just a business venture, but a transformative force in digital inclusion. Dope Nerds leverages virtual reality to connect middle and high school students to STEM-STEAM curricula and career planning, redefining educational pathways and possibilities.
Sign up and learn more about the VR experience here: Pedals of Resilience: Celebrating Black Cyclists Through VR – Dope Nerds® & The Baltimore Times