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Capturing adventure one bicyclist at a time

Although a little over two million adults rely on a car for transportation, nothing beats a bicycle for creating experiences, stories and opportunities for human interaction while traveling. No one knows this better than Greg Siple.

Since 1982, Siple has captured images of bicyclists from all around the world and recorded their stories of peddling through the Adventure Cycling Association headquarters in Missoula, Montana. For serious bicyclists, passing through the headquarters and getting their photo taken for the association’s wall is considered a rite of passage.

Siple’s photos and images, as well as snippets of the stories that accompany long-distance bike tours, are on display now at the Whipple Fine Arts Gallery.

Bicycling excursions bring families and friends together over a common interest, even if the riders begin their journeys differently. And these journeys make good stories and great art.

" 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 [co-founder] began recording our visitors on film and asking them to tell their stories, creating Adventure Cycling's National Bicycle Touring Portrait Collection." — Adventure Cycling Association

Kym and Christine, two of Siple’s subjects, took their bicycle trip in 1984 and captured the event to hang up on the walls of their home. “As our children grew and looked at those pictures every day, we would tell them stories of our bicycle adventure and kid them that we would be doing that same journey with them some day. The years sped by and suddenly we realized our oldest daughter would be leaving home in two short years, embarking on a life of her own. We decided it was now or never,” Christine said.

Siple also archived the travels of a newlywed couple from Ireland who journeyed from New York City to Portland, Oregon. Without any previous experience, the couple set out on their way and ended up lost in the Appalachian Mountains. Luckily, many people were willing to help them out. One gave them a carpet to keep warm through the mountains, and another a useful map. In Pennsylvania, they found their food had been stolen by a raccoon. Almost ready to quit, they decided to persevere and ended up at Adventure Cycling in Montana, where they found plenty of helpful local and state maps as well as the free snack that the association provides each bicyclist who stops by.

“We reached Seaside, Oregon, as the sun was setting, a beautiful end to the journey of a lifetime,” Johannes remembers, “but instead of fulfilling my appetite for adventure, this trip has only ignited the fire of exploration and discovery that will take a lifetime to fuel.”

More interesting stories photographed and recorded by Greg Siple are in UCC’s Art Gallery.

The “Bicycle Eclectic” is on display through the first of May. Expect to see a collection of people posing with their bikes accompanied by small captions of how they started and finished their expeditions.

For more pictures and information about the bike trails through Montana visit www.adventurecycling.org.