TOSRV WEST’s roots can be traced back to the weekend of July 7-8, 1962 in Ohio. It was on that weekend that a father and son cycled a 210-mile round trip from Columbus to Portsmouth along the Scioto River Valley. The father was recalling rides he had done in the 1930s and the 16-year-old son was dreaming of tours to come. In fact, the son established the ride as an annual event the following year when he invited three friends to accompany him.
By 1965 the ride had a name, Tour of the Scioto River Valley (TOSRV), and drew 16 riders to the start, a huge number of cyclists in those days. Among that group was a young man in his early 20s named Dan Burden and an old codger in his 30s named Charlie Pace. Both were active members of the local council of American Youth Hostels and were anxious to test themselves with back to back centuries. But Charlie crashed in the first mile, dislocating several fingers, and Dan accompanied him to a hospital. The rest of the riders continued south assuming that they had seen the last of that odd pair on TOSRV. If that assumption had proven correct there would never have been a TOSRV WEST. But Charlie returned in 1967 and amazed everyone with a strong ride and Dan "catered" the tour out of the back of his father’s station wagon turning the tour into a 200-mile-picnic. And, my gosh, there was an unheard of 45 riders including 10 "girls", the tour’s first female riders. Among that group of young women was Lys Brant who, if only by few yards, the first female finisher of TOSRV.
In 1967 Charlie took over the directorship of the tour and began to apply his organizational genius. The tour fell under the sponsorship of the American Youth Hostels. The station wagon was retired and food stops were established. Dan and Lys became TOSRV regulars. Even though Dan began a four year hitch in the Navy he scheduled his leave time to coincide with TOSRV. He and Lys kept up a lively correspondence between visits. By 1970 TOSRV had reached 1000 riders. Dan and Lys married, honeymooned at the Grand Canyon, came to Missoula and enrolled in the University of Montana. Dan focused on journalism while Lys studied geology. A return to Ohio for TOSRV71 was out of the question, much too expensive for newlywed students.
And so TOSRV WEST was conceived. In Missoula they found a handy river beginning with the letter ‘S’, a spectacular 200-mile loop and lots of new cyclists ripe for a challenge. Sixty-eight riders rode the first TOSRV WEST. There were 55 men and 13 women. All but 7 were under 30, All but 8 were from Missoula and 4 were from out of state. Everyone agreed that there should be more TOSRV WESTs.In 1972 TOSRV WEST expanded to 237 riders of which 65 were women and 102 were from out of town. During 1973 and 1974 the number of riders was down from 1972, but 1975 saw the beginning of a steady increase.
Remarkably, the establishment and growth of the tour in its early years took place in the absence of any sponsoring group.The Missoula Bicycle Club was not established until 1976 and then assumed sponsorship of the event. Even then TOSRV WEST seemed to belong to a few individuals. In 1972 Dan and Lys backed away from TOSRV to focus on Hemistour, the Alaska to Argentina cycling expedition, TOSRV was organized by a changing group of enthusiasts with no formalized structure. "Shall we organize TOSRV WEST this year?" "Okay, let’s do it."Indeed, it was not until 1979 that the Missoula Bicycle Club truly took formal control of TOSRV WEST.
Today we have a TOSRV WEST that’s become a solid institution. Charlie Pace served for 30 consecutive year as director of "Mother TOSRV" in Ohio. Dan and Lys became co-founders of Bikecentennial (renamed Adventure Cycling) after illness forced Dan to pull out of Hemistour in Mexico. They live in Florida where Dan he operates Walkable Communities to promote alternatives to automobile transportation. Lys, among other activities operates a bicycle tours company. Some years ago they started TOSRV SOUTH, which is still going strong.
-Greg Siple MOBI Historian