Every summer we enjoy the parade of bicycle travelers who drop by our office here in Missoula, Montana. These cyclists come from all over the world. Their variety of style, equipment, route, and purpose is endless.
In 1982, Greg Siple began recording our visitors on film and asking them to tell their stories, creating Adventure Cycling's National Bicycle Touring Portrait Collection. The Open Road Gallery features selections from this collection in Adventure Cyclist magazine and here on our website.
In 1986 Mark J. Davenport left his home in South Sioux City, Nebraska, to ride to Seattle, Washington to attend Expo ‘86. The orchestra teacher carried a violin to perform along the way. Venues and audiences included “campgrounds, street corners, churches, birthday parties, and the creatures in Grand Teton National Park.”
Dale Davenport came our way in 1983. He was a premed student on his way from Eugene, Oregon, to his hometown of Muncie, Indiana.
George Decker, of Arlington, Virginia, rode the TransAm Trail in 1982 in an Adventure Cycling group. The 36-year-old musician took a three-month leave of absence from his job as principal trumpet in the Opera House of the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. Nonetheless he brought a trumpet along to “stay in shape.”
Laura Orton, a hospital dietitian from Michigan, was riding a big loop out of Seattle, Washington, when she came our way. The date was July 23, 1982. Her portrait is notable in that it was the first one. With Laura we launched the effort to document the fascinating parade of touring cyclists that have been streaming through Missoula since 1976. Currently we have more than 3000 portraits in the collection and the number continues go grow.
“I thought that the period of this trip was going to be a comma for me, or the half-time between the first and second half of my life, but it turned out to be the best time so far.” Those are the words of Euntaek Hong, a Korean cyclist who rode across country on the TransAmerica Trail in 2005.
While many people get excited about taking a long bike tour, Laura Hienonymus (pictured left) had been anticipating and planning one for many years. Laura states, “After one husband, five moves and two children out of college, I am finally going on my dream trip. This trip was a culmination of a dream that I had when I missed out on the original Bikecentenial cross-country tour. I was just getting into biking and knew people going. From that point on, I had a dream of taking that trip.”
In the summer of 1997 Jake and Max Orhai rode their bicycles from their home in Bozeman, Montana to Eugene, Oregon. While that was a great accomplishment in itself, it was more impressive as Jake and Max were only 14 and 17 years old at the time.
Don’t let this photo fool you. Even though Chris Shevchik looks fierce in this shot, he is actually an amiable fellow. A seventh-grade science teacher from Illinois, Chris had always wanted to ride his bike across the country. He also thought that it would be more challenging to do it solo. While some people feel that traveling solo might not be safe, Chris isn’t one of them. With an adventurous spirit and a black belt in karate, he felt more than prepared.
Matthew Canale (on the bicycle) wanted to bicycle across America with his buddies when he graduated from college in 2006. When he ran it by his family, though, his idea was met with resistance. They saw riding a bicycle across the country as an unnecessary activity that would put him in harms way.
Benjamin Miler pedaled solo from Nebraska to the West Coast in the summer of 2007. “I’m very glad that I did it alone, although I was nervous about that at first,” he said. Solo travelers seem to be able to get into a special mindset, which Miler described when he said, “Many times on my trip I let go of my handlebars and forgot about my legs pushing me forward. I would just be soaring across the earth at the perfect pace with the wind in my face.”