Empowering The Bicycle Traveler

Somewhere in the Middle of Montana

The 40th anniversary of Adventure Cycling Association.
I will be riding my bike from Bozeman to Missoula, MT for the 40th Anniversary of Adventure Cycling Association, which happens July 15-17, 2016. As it turns out I will be following the route of my very first bike tour. I didn’t know it at the time but as I was doing my first tour Greg and June Siple were halfway through their bike trip from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego, a little jaunt they called Hemistour. When they were done with that they went back to Missoula and started working for a concern they helped start called Bikecentennial, which later became Adventure Cycling Association.
ideale leather saddle
Back in those days it was hard to find bicycle touring gear, or any bicycle gear for that matter. I think my sister or my mom made my panniers from a Frostline Kit. My Peugeot bicycle came with sew-up tires. I ordered an Ideale leather saddle from an actual paper catalog and it eventually appeared in the mail. Plastic bike helmets didn’t exist, and LYCRA was not yet being used for shorts. There were no cell phones and “internet” was not a word. I would stop at a pay phone when I could to call home and let them know where I was and that I was OK. That puts Hemistour in perspective and squarely in the category of extreme sport.

The Tour of the Swan River Valley, or TOSRV West is a 220 mile, fully supported, two day bike ride that begins in Missoula, goes through Seeley Lake and Swan Lake to Big Fork and returns along Flathead Lake back to Missoula. Two other Hemistour riders, Dan and Lys Burden, were inspired by the Tour of the Scioto River Valley in Ohio and they organized the first TOSRV West in 1971. In the late 1970’s and early 80’s riding TOSRV West was a chance to see some exotic, for the time, bicycles. Of course the high end bikes were all lugged steel with full Campagnolo or Zeus kits. There was even a custom builder in Missoula at the time; Dennis Sparrow, who drove along the route with a van full of tools and worked as the mechanic for the riders. If memory serves, Sparrow was not built like a sparrow. I also remember that he smoked cigarettes which did, and does, seem like an anomaly. Then again Dario Pegoretti wouldn’t strike one as a builder of exquisite bike frames either.

These are some of the memories I will be taking with me to Missoula next month. There is a contingent of riders from Idaho who will be converging on Missoula the middle of July. I’m sure they all have there own reasons for going and will have their own stories and memories from the trip. I intend to collect some of those stories over beers in one of Missoula’s brew pubs. Also looking forward to getting a chance to talk to Greg, June, Dan and Lys.

2 comments… add one
  • Randy Miller June 27, 2016, 5:25 pm

    Hey Jim,
    My 16yr old daughter and I are bikepacking on the North Fork of the Clearwater in the first part of July. We plan on getting back in our Van (16th of July) and head over Hoodoo pass for the 40th anniversary. Hope to see you there.
    Ride On,

    • Sky King July 12, 2016, 12:24 pm

      Randy we’ll try to connect. send us an email or text


Leave a Comment