The 1980s for me were a time of getting involved in bicycling. I went from riding, to advocating, to teaching cycling, to leading tours. While teaching a Bicycle Touring Course at the University of South Carolina (USC) I found out about a program to get students over the age of 25 (I was 32) back in school. It was a chance to get a degree. I jumped at the offer. Six years later I had earned a Masters in Recreation Geography and taught 12 Bicycle Touring Courses (one each semester). USC still offers the course (Bicycle Touring PEDU 186) in the College of Education under Outdoor Activities.
Spring Effective Cycling course, finished on May 17, 1981
I moved to Columbia, SC in 1979. In 1980 I bought a bicycle and started riding with the local club—the Carolina Cyclers. Jack Logomarsino, a University of South Carolina professor was very involved with the Club and cycling education. He taught his first League of American Wheelmen (LAW) Effective Cycling course in the Spring of 1981 at the University. We met each Saturday for classroom sessions and afternoon on-road bike skill rides.
Taking the course grounded me in good bicycling techniques and also started me on a long journey of bicycling as well as teaching and advocating for bicycling. At the end of the course (May 17, 1981) we each received an Effective Cyclist certificate. Today LAW is known as the League of American Bicyclists (LAB) and they offer Smart Cycling that teaches bicycling skills through certified instructors.
State Newspaper (Columbia, SC) article about Jim Schmid and bicycling – November 5, 1982
This article came out a day before my 32nd birthday. I was biking everywhere, didn’t have a car at the time. Reporter (Betty Lynn Compton) contacted me for a story cause I was the town’s crazy bike guy.
Text from Cool fall days great for biking
By Betty Lynn Compton
Weekend Staff writer
People who ride bikes are often thought to be either crazy or forced to pedal because of economic reasons, says Jim Schmid.
But Schmid, who rides his bike almost everywhere, says “you don’t have to be an eccentric to live that way.”
Schmid doesn’t own a car, but he has two bikes—one for touring and one for commuting. He has biked all over the United States and frequently participates in biking conventions.
The fact that he rides at all is kind of amazing, considering he was born without 50 percent of the muscles and ligaments in his legs. Schmid said that as a youngster, he was called names by other children and left out of sports because of his disability. “Twenty years ago they didn’t do that much about crippled people,” he said.
But Schmid was determined to participate in some kind of athletics. “I took up jogging religiously,” he said, “and messed mu my ankles.” He also tried karate and “messed up my knees.” He got caught up in the “bike boom” of the ‘70s when he was living in California, but then turned to motorcycling. Finally, when he settled down in Columbia three years ago, he returned to biking, in a big way.
A second “bike boom” is going on right now, Schmid said. He got back into biking as exercise, but he’s progressed from being a casual rider to a commuting biker to, most recently, a bicycle advocate. As such, he not only promotes bicycling but works on establishing bike routes and educating people about how to ride safely. Schmid, who’s a carpenter by trade, has come a long way since the days when he was called “bird legs” by other children. “I just started wearing shorts when I started bicycling,” he said with a smile.
Schmid recently returned from a bike convention in Colorado where he was nominated for office of southeastern regional director of the League of American Wheelmen. He’s currently the state representative.
Schmid is also a member of a local biking club called the Carolina Cyclers which is open to anyone who has a bicycle and likes to ride. Schmid said members of the club are trying to break the image of being a racing, long-distance, elitist club. People of all ages belong to the Carolina Cyclers, which has some 250 members.
Members take historic rides through the city and leisure rides on Sunday afternoon, stopping for ice cream afterwards. People who’re interested in racing or longer rides will also find events geared to their tastes, such as 50 and 100-mile tours.
Schmid said the Sunday rides first started as an outreach program of the First Baptist Church, “so there’s a real good mix of people” who participate, he added. Schmid said the club was initially a racing club and then a long-distance touring club. But now its much more than that, offering members maintenance and riding clinics and effective cycling classes.
Schmid is also excited about a program he hopes to get started with the March of Dimes which will help crippled children learn to ride. “Those people helped me years ago,” he said of the March of Dimes.
The club is planning a historic ride through downtown Columbia Sunday, Nov. 14 from 2-4 p.m. Bikers should meet at the First Baptist Church Educational Annex at the corner of Marion and Taylor Streets. On Thanksgiving Day, the club will sponsor a 25-mile ride starting at 1 p.m. at the Family Mart in West Columbia. Bike rides are also planned for Nov. 6 and Nov. 20 when the Christmas Seal Lung Run and the Shandon Turkey Trot respectively are scheduled. Members of the club will be monitoring these runs, and will go for 15-mile rides afterwards. In addition, leisure rides are scheduled each Thursday at 5:30 p.m., leaving from Sims Park at the corner of Duncan and Bonham Streets.
People who are interested in finding out more about the activities of the Carolina Cyclers can pick up the club’s newsletter, which contains a calendar of events, at area bike shops. The club meets the fourth Monday of each month at 7p.m. in the First Baptist Church Educational Annex. Dues are $10 per person per year. The club will have its Christmas meeting and party on Dec. 13.
Effective Cyclist Instructor certificate #103 – February 9, 1983
Taking the 1981 EC course really sparked an interest in cycling education and advocacy. Was pretty neat to be only the 103rd person nationwide to be certified to teach Effective Cycling. Bill Frey was heading up the program for the League of American Wheelmen at the time. I ended up teaching EC workshops at LAW rallies. I certified a bunch of folks and even a few instructors.