Birmingham was fortunate to have a small group of cyclists that began coming together over fifty years ago and formed a community that would develop into the Birmingham Bicycle Club. The following information came to me as a result of Howard Skipper’s sister in-law cleaning out his estate after his passing.
ORIGINS OF THE BIRMINGHAM BICYCLE CLUB 1972-2002 – By Howard Skipper, Cofounder of the Birmingham Bicycle Club
For adults in Birmingham, AL, who like bicycles, the 1960’s were interesting times. Big names like Schwinn, Raleigh and even Sears for the first time began seriously marketing lighter weight, narrow tire bikes. Adults, not kids, were the buyers. The numbers were small at first but increased steadily as did adult riding.
By the mid 1960’s to1970 small informal groups met and rode occasionally. One, the “Mt. Brook Sunday Afternoon Cycling Society” rode where and when the name suggests. There were some nice European, derailleur equipped, fancy lugged bikes in the society. I (Howard Skipper) rode with other persons including Jim Dobbs and Allen Shirley. Harold Fincher, noted racer and rider from the 1930’s-1960’s, pushed a mass public ride to test public interest along with Jim Godwin of the old City Cycles shop. Birmingham’s Recreation Department, to their credit, sponsored two rides. They offered a “Short” one and a “Long” route out and back Old Springville Road.,then on the fringe of the city. Around 25 people, a very large group then, participated. It was deemed quite successful.
From those positive results the concept of starting a permanent bicycle club was hatched and organized by Dobbs and myself (Howard Skipper). In late June 1972, six people met in the Japanese Gardens of Birmingham’s Botanical Gardens. Five, Jim Dobbs, Howard Skipper, Allen Shirley, Jim Holland and Susan Holland joined and formed the first permanent continuing bicycle club in Alabama since the Birmingham Cycle Club and Spring City Cycling Club (Huntsville) around the turn of the 20th Century. We named it the Birmingham Bicycle Club and then began researching, mapping and leading rides which we published in our basic four page large print newsletter, The Spokesman. I suggested the name. With no other ideas pushed, it won by default. Jim Dobbs was President and I was ride captain.
In July the first ride was held, a short, flat, easy paced ride from Eastwood Mall. It was similar to Wally Titan’s current afternoon rides. A long, hillier Overton Road-Sicard Hollow loop followed, then repeat of the old Springville Road rides, short and medium lengths.
Soon others joined. Among them David and Dicki Arn, whose wonderful enthusiasm and hard work helped our little band weather the bumps and bubblehead drivers of the day. WE grew slowly in membership as well as number and variety of rides offered, our main objectives at the time. Mr. Dobbs and Mr. Skipper completed in bicycle road racing as well as enjoying the BBC touring thus her “dual citizenship” pass ports, racing and touring for many years.
I also discovered the following information regarding Past Presidents.
1972 – Jim Dobbs (First President of the BBC)
1975 – Ann Warren
1977 – Jack Goetz
1978 – Jack Goertz
1989 – Jim Puckett
1992 – Dr. Walden Retan aka “Doc”
1993 – Dr. Walden Retan
1994 – Dr. Walden Retan
1995 – Edward Take – aka Eddy “Bear” Take
1996 – (Jan – Aug Dom Sutton) (Sep – Dec Jack and Kaye Barbour)
1997 – Jack and Kaye Barbour
1998 – Jack and Kaye Barbour
1999 – Jack and Kaye Barbour
2000 – Jack and Kaye Barbour
2001 – Jack and Kaye Barbour
2002 – Kathy Troup
2003 – Doug Daughhetee
2004 – Doug Daughhetee
2005 – Doug Daughhetee
2006 – Steve Fair
2007 – Steve Fair
2008 – Barbara Gower
2009 – Barbara Gower
2010 – Barbara Cowan
2011 – Barbara Cowan
2012 – Barbara Cowan
2013 – Barbara Cowan
2014 – Gene Wallace
2015 – Gene Wallace
2016 – Gene Wallace
2017 – Gene Wallace
2018 – Gene Wallace
2019 – Bo Bozeman / Chris Cole
2020 – Chris Cole / Richard Rodriguez
2021 – Greg Smith
2022 – Lloyd Maisonville
2023 – Lloyd Maisonville
2024 – Lloyd Maisonville
Barbara Cowan, Past President’s recollection of her time with the BBC. “I joined the club as a novice cyclist in 2004 when our Century was held out of Montevallo High School. It was a great venue. Barbara Gower & Ed Carmack moved it out to Sleepy Hollow close to Springville. When I took over in 2010 we kept it there for 2 more years & realized we were only attracting the most elite cyclist and not the recreational cyclist. We moved it to Ashville in 2012 and it was great for every level of cyclist. Numbers grew from there especially w/ Alabama Backroads century series. We also use to publish a monthly newsletter called The Spokesman. With social media it went away. We had a member Clinton Slayton who loved putting it together. He was a character for sure”
The Pandemic (Covid) Shut down the Club based on the protocols put out by the State of Alabama. The week of March 20th 2020 was the start of quarantine, instruction to stay at home and only go out into the public for groceries. Medical appointments were discouraged as hospitals were filling up with Covid Virus patients overwhelming the medical community. The incorporation of Masks became a regular thing as most business, who were not shut down, required the masks be worn to enter their establishments.
Working from home became a normal part of life with many businesses closing for good.
Outdoor activities were limited but exercising alone was allowed. That being the case the BBC basically went defunct as a club. Most cyclist were either riding on a trainer indoors or riding alone on the streets. The traffic volume was extremely low so riding outside alone was actual much safer during this time. The Tuesday Night Worlds group created a virtual ride to take the place of the regular group ride. It was very well attended.
After several months the state started to implement guidelines related to gatherings. It was then that the cyclist in Birmingham began to form small groups of 6 to 10 riders to go out and do group rides. It wasn’t until July of 2021 that the State of Alabama Relaxed the guideline and allowed for more normal gatherings, with caution of course. The vaccine was being issued by now to most people who wanted it. This is when we began to reactivate the BBC and promote Group riding officially.
As far as membership goes we ended 2020 with less than 50 paying members in the club. By Year end 2021 we had 220 members and by year end 2022 we managed to grow to 295 members. 2023 we saw tremendous growth reaching 458 members. Who knows what the future will hold.