Skip to main content
Add Me To Your Mailing List
HomeHistory of TOMRV



TOMRV History


I don't know who started this history. I believe it was published in our club newsletter some years ago. I have brought it forward to the present. You long time TOMRV riders will enjoy recalling some past years.

As it says, TOMRV started with Carter LeBeau, who was excited by his experience on the new RAGBRAI event, but who wanted a little more comfort when the day's ride was over than camping out. So the first TOMRV stopped at a motel, but then Carter hit on the idea of asking colleges to rent their dormitories for a tour day. This gave more rooms and a fun atmosphere to arriving for the day. Several tours in our area were formed on this model, including the long running TOGIR, and of course TOMRV. TOMRV was retained by the Quad Cities Bicycle Club, while the other tours ran for many years as a business / labor of love.

The other tours have since ended, but TOMRV remains. Due to extraordinary volunteerism from the QCBC and friends, TOMRV continues to operate, grow and improve as a large-scale tour at a very economical price. Each year when I ride this tour, I feel a connection to this long history, and to the river the country and the towns where we tour.

1978 TOMRV begins with a two day ride, suggested by Carter LeBeau, from the Quad Cities to the Holiday Inn in Burlington, Iowa, and back on the Illinois side to the Quad Cities. Bob Frey assists Carter and introduces his "Bob Frey Awards" at the annual banquet. Jerry & Sparky's Bicycle Shop does the repair along the route, and, with an incredible amount of generosity and support for the Quad Cities Bicycle Club, a tradition they maintain for 27 years.

1979 The route is changed, going north to Dubuque on the Iowa side to Clarke College, then after an excellent banquet, returning across the Hwy 20 bridge to Galena, up Black Jack Road from the north, to Sabula and back. Ken Davis maps the route.

1980 Black Jack Road's notoriety is championed with a bridge built on the crest by the Paulos family, after a suggestion by Carter, to make the route even higher than the previous year.

1981 The Year of the Winds! Sunday's winds from the south clock in at 30 m.p.h.! Clarke College's banquet continues to grow in variety, quantity, and fame, prompting three riders from Barrington, IL. to be able to abstain from food for a whole week after the ride.

1982 Riders around the Midwest start pronouncing a new word, TOMRV, correctly "Tom Rov". John Keane and Bob Knuckles chair TOMRV. Sheri Power is TOMRV's Secretary.

1983 Rest Stops are established at three locations on each day's ride. John Keane & Sheri Power continue their work on TOMRV.

1984 TOMRV 7, the "Soggy 7", finds many riders forced to walk their bikes up the final segment of Chestnut Mountain, causing much mental anguish and vows to add granny gears next year. The route goes up the Iowa side, and returns via Illinois, crossing at the Clinton bridge. Stops serve water and bananas. At 3 years old, Justin Langan becomes the youngest rider to finish TOMRV, stopping in Clinton for a nap.

1985 After much QCBC debate, the route is changed to cross over to Illinois at Sabula, ride through Illinois to East Dubuque, and stay in Iowa for all of Sunday's ride. Mary Keane is TOMRV's Secretary.

1986 Bob Miller chairs TOMRV. Jean Kelly begins her calligraphy career with the TOMRV Fanny Bumpers. Rest Stops are established at 5 locations each day. Cookies & snacks are added. Joanie Richards is TOMRV's Secretary.

1987 10th year. The year of the HEAT. The temperature at Boob's in McCausland hits 105!

1988 A perfect TOMRV- tailwind up, winds switch at night, and a tailwind back.

1989 Dick Castner chairs the ride. TOMRV offers its new Short Route, beginning and ending in Preston, Iowa. Green bananas become TOMRV's bane. Mother Nature Rules! Susie LaForce haphazardly agrees to act as TOMRV's Secretary, beginning a long run that sees the ride grow into a major event.

1990 TOMRV becomes a 3 state ride when we change the route and enter Wisconsin. We ride over Dubuque's new scenic bridge, spanning the Mississippi River. Sam Norwood chairs TOMRV and maps out the new route. Sam introduces The Riders Guide.

1991 Dick Wagner and Susie LaForce chair TOMRV. Bill Langan takes over as Rest Stop Chairman. No more green bananas. The food becomes legendary. Watermelon boats appear. Ice Swans are discussed, but, sadly rejected. Massage Therapists begin working on TOMRV.

1992 15th year. Clarke's banquet gets even better, thanks to Chef Larry James, a man with skills and laughs as large as his girth. The equally legendary, but considerably thinner, Chuck Oestreich joins TOMRV. He and Susie LaForce chair the ride.

1993 Loras College is added as a second college offering rooms for the riders. TOMRV produces its first Jersey.

1994 Trek's Wrench Force joins TOMRV.

1995 Dean Mathias becomes the first person to ride TOMRV without sitting down. After a devastating fire at Clarke destroys several buildings, the Atrium opens.

1996 Aussie makes TOMRV's first professional Jersey.

1997 20th year. Schwinn joins TOMRV. Who can forget Sister Kathleen Ann Beckman, who sold pop as a fundraiser for the Working Boys Center in Quito, Ecuador. Doug Truesdell joins TOMRV as co chair.

1998 Another change north of Galena adds "The Wall" to the ride's mythology. Bicycling Magazine proclaims TOMRV one of the best rides in the country in an article titled "50 States, 50 Great Rides".

1999 Clarke College opens its air-conditioned Apartment Building. The Arc Group Graphics of Chicago joins TOMRV. Voler begins producing the TOMRV Jersey. Leon Van Camp becomes the oldest rider to complete TOMRV at the age of 83.

2000 Ridership hits 1500. Entertainment is introduced with a Blues Concert by Hawkeye Herman. Unbelievable tailwinds carry the ride to Dubuque on Saturday.

2001 The Beer Garden opens. Blues musician Patrick Hazell performs. Subway Sandwiches rule at Palisades!

2002 25th year. The best ride yet. Twenty-five years and still growing.

2003 Linda Barchman takes over from Susie LaForce as TOMRV registrar. Online registration with Active.com is begun. Music is provided by Keltori from Madison.

2004 Subway sandwiches are introduced at Palisades. Jerrys and Sparkies completes their final year as the official TOMRV road support. Thank you for many years of service.

2005 Susie LaForce finishes her final year as TOMRV coordinator, passing it on to Doug Truesdell. Healthy Habits provides TOMRV road support for the first time. The band Acoustic Mayhem from Iowa City plays in Dubuque.

2006 TOMRV starts with rainstorms, headwinds and temperatures in the 40s. Many riders suffer through; others are overwhelmed. For the hearty, the lucky, and the persistent TOMRV goes on. Tom Snyders, the Bicycling Comedian, performs at TOMRV.

2007 30th year. Beautiful weather, 1,650 riders. Cedar Island band plays at the expanded Beer Garden. We return to McCausland after a long absence.

2008 Katherine Weeks takes over as TOMRV registrar. The route is changed to include Springbrook. Road support is provided by Free Flight and others. Saturday is dry with brisk tailwinds, but Sunday challenges riders with storms between Dubuque and Bellevue. No-one escapes a drenching, and many decide to end at Preston.

2009 TOMRV becomes a sponsor for LiveStrong. Saturday is rainy, and riders are suprised to discover that the steel deck bridge before Sabula has become slippery, following replacement of the old decking. Most riders decide to walk over. Cyclist/Photographer Ken Urban takes spectacular images along the tour.

2010 Another soggy weekend, though there are periods of pleasant weather too. Most riders register online this year. The mail-in paper application is becoming history. University of Dubuque starts housing riders this year, making it possible to house every rider who applys for a room.

2011 A beautiful weekend for riding this year, with the temperature reaching 70. Headwinds on Saturday morning, and a brief shower caught some riders, but overall very fine riding conditions. The jersey was very popular - riders snagged over 500, and we introduced a new synthetic sport tee.

2017  Doug Truesdell announced his pending retirement at the close of TOMRV 2018.  At the annual Quad Cites Bike Club banquet Doug was recognized for his dedication in  leading the TOMRV team.  Doug receive the club's "Award of Merit", the highest award given by the club for service.

2019  Cindy Bottrell takes over the Leadership of the TOMRV team after longtime TOMRV Director Doug Truesdell's retirement.