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'That's a lot of hours': Boise man rides 200,000 miles on his bike in 36 years

In September 2004, Steve Hulme broke the 100,000-mile barrier. If he plans to keep his pace and hit 300,000 miles, he will be 86, 18 years from now.

BOISE, Idaho — The 20th Annual Boise Bike Week is underway. The Treasure Valley Cycling Alliance and other organizations put together many bicycle-themed events to encourage people to get out of the car and on the bike.

In fact, the official kick-off event is happening Wednesday and the week culminates Friday, with Bike to Work Day

Bike to Work became more than just a 'one-day thing,' for one Boise man. It was a decades-long dedication that put him into a different stratosphere when it comes to dialing up the distance. 

Steve Hulme has been bouncing around Boise on his bike … for a bit. Not just today, but going back to when he was a boy.

"I probably rode my bike to school two, three days a week and then around the neighborhood a lot and so on," Hulme said.

'So on' took on a whole other meaning when Hulme and his wife had kids of their own.

"Well, it was 1985 and I took a new job downtown at city hall, as a matter of fact," Hulme said. "All of a sudden we were a one-car family and we were kind of competing for who got to use the car that day."

To avoid the daily dispute, Hulme decided to downsize, to two wheels. 

"I told my wife I was maybe going to buy a bicycle and she thought it was just another toy out of our limited family budget," Hulme said. "I bought the bike and she got over not speaking to me within about a week. From then on, I've kind of been a bicycle commuter."

Hulme's commute was only about 3 miles. 

"But, I would take the scenic route quite often on the way home, when I wasn't pressed for time," Hulme said. 

The route meant those miles started multiplying. 

"In the beginning of 1986, I just thought it would be fun to keep track of how far I rode," Hulme said. "That year I rode a little over 2,000 miles."

So, he kept riding, almost every day, through rain, snow and shine. 

"I kind of became a slave to that odometer, I will confess," Hulme said. "It was fun to see those nice round number roll over, like 4,000 or 5,000. Half a dozen times I made it over 6,000 miles in a year."

Hulme knows the numbers because he kept track, month by month, beginning in 1986. By 1997, he stopped using a car completely. 

Seven years later, in September 2004 -- just before he turned 51 -- Hulme broke the 100,000 mile barrier.

Despite the milestone over 18 years, Hulme kept on riding.

One summer, he even challenged his 4-year-old granddaughter to peddle around to as many playgrounds as possible. 

"Over three months, we rode our bicycle to 91 playgrounds, I think it was," Hulme said. "By the end of that summer, she was riding on her own bicycle."

An accomplishment only overshadowed by Hulme's next 100,000 milestone, another 18 years after his first. 

"It seems better all the time, the older I get, so that's kind of a cool thing. When I think about the time I spent riding a bike, you know, averaging 15 miles an hour for 200,000 miles, that's a lot of hours," Hulme said. "Then I think about all the hours that I have not been sitting in traffic and just riding past gas stations. That's been nice."

200,000 miles in 36 years.

"I haven't aged a day though, I tell ya," Hulme said laughingly.

The distance is enough to ride around the globe eight times, or about 39,000 shy of making it to the moon. 

"I don't think I'll make it to 300,000, but maybe I could make it to the moon," Hulme joked.

In case you were wondering, 200,000 is not even close to a record for miles covered on a bike in a lifetime. That honor belongs to a man from England, who hit 1,000,000 miles back in 2019 at the age of 82.

2019 was also the same year Hulme retired, but that hasn't kept him off the bike, obviously. He's on his sixth bike used over the 36 years. 

Back when this quest started, Hulme said there were not nearly as many bike lanes in Boise and the Greenbelt didn't go as far in either direction. He said things have gotten better for bike riders and there are more and more like him. 

Hulme told KTVB on the very worst winter days, when he heads out on his bike, there are already bike tracks, so he knows he's not alone. 

If he plans to keep his pace and hit 300,000, Hulme will be 86, 18 years from now.

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