Adventure Cycling’s History

Bikecentennial '76 group finishes their ride.

In 1970, Dan and Lys Burden came to Missoula, Montana, from Columbus, Ohio, to attend the University of Montana. In 1972, they were joined by another Ohio couple, Greg and June Siple. The four had been planning for a number of years to launch a cycling expedition that summer that would carry them 18,000 miles from Alaska to the southern tip of Argentina. The trek was dubbed Hemistour.

They left Anchorage in June of 1972 and over the next year bicycled to a point in southern Mexico and wrote and photographed an article about the trip that appeared in National Geographic magazine (May 1973).

En route, they conceived the idea for a bicycle tour across the United States to celebrate the nation’s bicentennial in 1976, naming the event Bikecentennial ’76. Unfortunately, Dan contracted hepatitis when the group was nearing the Mexico/Guatemala border and he and Lys had to discontinue Hemistour. Greg and June continued south and completed the journey in Tierra del Fuego in February of 1975. Dan and Lys returned to Missoula and began working on making Bikecentennial a reality. By the fall of 1975, more than a dozen full-time staff members (including Greg and June back from South America) were busy creating the TransAmerica Trail and what eventually blossomed into Adventure Cycling. More than 4,000 cyclists took part in the 1976 inaugural tours.

Following the success of the bicentennial summer, the organization began charting additional long-distance routes for cyclists. We occupied two offices prior to purchasing our headquarters building in 1992.

Today, hundreds of cyclists visit our Missoula, MT, headquarters at 150 East Pine Street.

Read a more detailed history of Bikecentennial ’76 or view the Adventure Cycling timeline.