Greg Siple; ACA, Hemistour, and TOSRV

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He looks like someone’s dad, on his way to grandfather; secretly, he’s one badass dude. It’s likely that Greg isn’t described that way often enough. Maybe I just like saying that because he’s so nice, and humble; and half a foot shorter than me.

I first heard about Greg in relation the the Hemistour trek from Alaska to Argentina that was undertaken with his wife June, and a handful of others in the early seventies. For all the Long Haul Truckers, Europeans, and Rohloff hubs riding that length today; Greg and June did it on handbuilt 650A (26×1 3/8, 590mm) wheels, customized long-cage Campy derailleurs, and TA handlebar bags– these should be reminders that good wheels and simple gear is adequate for the long haul.

The puzzle solved itself further when I realized that Greg and June had founded the Bikecentennial project– with others– and the subsequent organization to continue the work that made for a successful summer on bike in 1976. Bikecentennial became Adventure Cycling in 1993, and as a result, youngsters such as myself know even less of the momentous and memorable summer of “76. In truth, it’s Grant Peterson who’s been insistently telling the story of the American bike industry, planting Bikecentennial and Earth Day firmly between Schwinn (of old) and Trek (Red Barn); that’s how I first heard about the happiest, healthiest summer in recent history. Bike touring is alive and well in the US, but maybe it could use another kick in the ass. Does a big summer sound like a something that could happen? help? The time may be right. The time is always right for riding bikes.

In my recent visit to ACA, I was humbly informed by Greg that he and his father had organized– a little by chance– the Tour of the Scioto River Valley (TOSRV)– the first, largest (for a while), and most prominent multi-day group tour in the country. In 1962, Greg and his father Charles embarked on a two-day ride through Ohio countryside on a weekend in May. The next year, two more joined them. Within years, there were 16, then 45, then hundreds and thousands.

Anyone who has ridden Seattle-to-Portland (STP) or another multi-day tour; the Trans-Am trail; or the length of the hemisphere, owes a bit of thanks to Greg and his cohorts. There are likely no more than two degrees of separation between Greg, and every bike trip in America this past year. Not “kind of”; Greg is a big deal.

Greg and I stood in the basement for a moment, admiring Ian Hibell’s bike– bike church.

Photographing bikes and riders: Greg has long been attached to both bike and camera, but has– with dedication– photographed touring cyclists visiting Missoula since the early 80’s. He possesses a vast collection of photographs and stories of all variety of bike travellers; dogs, trailers, folders, handcycles, octogenarians and babies all make the list. An exhibition of his work can be seen inside ACA headquarters, at a travelling show (currently in Helena), and pasted to the sides of a utility box in down town Missoula. I share a few choice examples from downtown Missoula.20110915-095256.jpg20110915-095453.jpg20110915-095643.jpg20110915-095734.jpg20110915-095814.jpg20110915-095849.jpg20110915-100111.jpg20110915-100155.jpg20110915-100220.jpg

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2 thoughts on “Greg Siple; ACA, Hemistour, and TOSRV

    • Ken is perpetually inspiring to me, and is certainly in the yearbook. There are lots of ways to contribute to the culture of “riding bikes places”; Greg’s influence and impact is mammoth, while Ken’s “style” is much like my own. For me, Greg’s contributions are a recent revelation.

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