ACHD

Bikeboy Peddles 200,000 miles


The following feature by “BIKEBOY” is a bit long, but it took him years of huffing and puffing the streets of Boise to chalk up 200,000 miles. Here is his account of life on the street.

BY STEVE HULME

In 1986, I was a working-class guy, married with two kids and another on the way. And a dilemma. I had a new job – downtown. (Up ’til then I’d been in easy walking distance from the office.) With one car between us, suddenly we were competing for the wheels. Occasionally I drove to work; more often I took the bus, or Robin dropped me off and kept the car.

Betty, a friend at the office, rode a bicycle… and she lived twice as far away as me! Betty was always cheerful and energetic… and was an enthusiastic proponent of bicycles-as-transportation. Her steed was a pretty red Gitane road bike; she had a choice parking spot in the back hallway. (That was another thing about driving to work… sitting in traffic, finding a parking spot, etc., etc.) Betty really put me to thinkin’.

I told wife Robin I was going to get a bicycle and start riding to work. She was skeptical… confident I was just negotiating for some “new toy money” from our very limited budget. But I forged ahead, ultimately deciding on something that was new-fangled in ’86 – a “mountain bike,” they called it. Nobody was sure whether they’d catch on.

But – it caught on with me! That’s what matters. That bicycle became my primary mode of transportation. Riding up “Mount Protest Road” seemed like a daunting task at the time! But I got to coast down in the morning, and the rest of my route was pretty flat.

I immediately started appreciating some of the benefits – no traffic headaches… no parking headaches… no pumping gas! But as the days got longer and the weather nicer, my route started varying (at least in the afternoon, when I wasn’t pressed for time). Bicycling proved itself as recreation and exercise, besides transportation.

That first year, I ended up riding 2195 miles. (I spent $80 or so extra for another new-on-the-market gizmo – a Cateye bike computer.) 1986 was the last year I bicycled less than 4000 miles, as the bike became my primary transportation. (I still occasionally rode the bus, or a motorcycle, or caught a ride, but 95% of my commuting was on the bike – year ’round.)

The last day I drove a car to work was in September, 1997. I retired in 2019 – twenty-one years later, and exactly one year before the pandemic.

On September 6, 2004, I hit 100,000 cumulative bicycle miles.

Today – April 23, 2022 – I hit 200,000 cumulative bicycle miles. It doesn’t seem as momentous. I s’pose it’s like birthdays – after enough of ’em they lose a bit of luster. Bike miles are bike miles.

I still average about 350 “bicycle days” per year. I still ride about 5000 miles per year, and have no intention of letting up. 300K seems pretty unlikely, but I’d like to shoot for 250,000 miles, 9 or 10 years from now. Back during the employment years, probably 2/3 of my miles were transportation, 1/3 pleasure/exercise/recreation. Those numbers are reversed now… the majority of my miles are just because I love to ride! The best rides these days, are rides with my grandkids. (Oh, and 2022 Steve is considerably slower than 1986 Steve, despite all that “training”!!)

The number of HOURS spent riding over 36 years? That is a sobering thought! But consider how many hours a lot of people are sitting in traffic over the course of a year. Consider how many gas station fill-ups I’ve skipped. And – most of that bicycle time is combined transportation/recreation/exercise! Win-win-win!

There IS a down-side to transportation cycling. There is some effort involved (if you consider that a “down-side”). Cold and wet weather… really HOT weather… and slippery road conditions… wind… an unpleasant encounter with another roadway user, can take the gilt off the lily. You are severely limited in carrying capacity – no stops at the lumber yard on the way home from work. Probably a half-dozen times I got home… took my shoes off… and poured water out of ’em. I’ve had a few crashes – some painful! – fortunately never involving a serious injury. But the wonderful days far outnumber the marginal days.

One thought that gives me comfort: Lots of old geezers get to a certain age, and their kids intervene and take the car keys. For me, that won’t be too painful. (Now if they lock my bike up and hide the key… THAT might be a problem!)

If you are thinking about riding a bike to work – START TODAY!

I’d love to answer any questions you GUARDIAN readers might have – please submit them, and with help from Mr. Frazier, I’ll do my best to provide a forthright response. THANK YOU to everybody who is patient with bike riders, and gives us space to operate. Be safe – keep the shiny side up!

“Bikeboy” Steve Hulme

Comments & Discussion

10 comments for “Bikeboy Peddles 200,000 miles”

  1. Congrats Bikeboy on the milestone!

    What do you think are the top 3 things ACHD could do to improve our roads and pathways for bicycling, especially for bicycle commuting?

  2. Congrats on 200k!!

  3. Glad to call Steve an “online friend”. Though we did get together when Steve organized a group of bike commuters for the Christmas parade.

  4. Kent Goldthorpe
    Apr 26, 2022, 2:59 pm

    Thanks, Steve. Have you considered public office now that you have more time on your hands??

  5. Clancy is too modest! We’ve crossed paths on numerous occasions… mostly related to our shared passion for cycling!

    Easterner, my #1 “pet peeve” nowadays is non-responsive camera-activated traffic signals! Some will detect a cyclist… many don’t… some do one time, and not the next. (I did better with the old ground loop “metal detectors.” Hopefully ACHD is working on this.) Overall, the area infrastructure is MUCH more bike-friendly than in ’86.

    Kent, “public office” doesn’t hold much appeal for me. I admire you good people who serve in such capacities, but it seems like no matter what you do it’s gonna make SOMEBODY unhappy. (I was a “charter member” of the ACHD Bicycle Advisory Committee, many years ago. Even that was a little frustrating. Maybe they’ll give me another shot at it someday… in the meantime, I’m trying to be a bicycling Ambassador of Goodwill.) I’ve got enough interests – and five local grandkids – that I don’t have much down-time.

  6. Good for you
    Apr 26, 2022, 7:03 pm

    Good for you on this very personal accomplishment. The thing to realize is that it worked for you and might not work for others. (People promote bicycling.) Be careful.

    I like the story, but why is this news? Is he entering politics?

    EDITOR NOTE–Bikeboy has been a frequent commenter and contributor to the GUARDIAN.

  7. Good stuff! I don’t always agree with Bikeboy but his views always seem to be well-considered and reasoned, which is a vast improvement over what passes for political discourse these days!

    And serious congrats for that much biking! I keep thinking I should commute, but then I look at the climb between river-level and Micron, and talk myself out of it. Maybe one of those fancy e-bikes with the hill assist is what I need, but I’m afraid if I get one of those, I’ll never pedal. Back in the day I did ride my bike to BSU, however. It was really nice not worrying about parking issues!

  8. I rode a bike to work for 11 years and pushed for biking for people as an alternative. It is good for your health and you save $$ on gas and wear on your motor vehicle.

    I was politically active in biking issues, to the point where I got pretty snotty about it. I regret my attitude now and the first thing I would say is DON’T GIVE UP YOUR MOTOR VEHICLE! It is your long range transportation freedom technology that can carry your important gear and things with you when you need them the most. Bikes are very limited when it comes to cargo capacity and your capability to haul stuff long ranges.

    Remember, Klaus Schwab et al want you broken down to an economic flyspeck that will possess as little as possible without any options other than what he and his ilk provide for you. It’s very well stated in their public promo videos for the World Economic Forum.

    I’m impressed that BikeBoy hit his 200K mark. Good for him! That is a PERSONAL choice. But I would NEVER force this transportation style on anyone. Bikes make for great auxiliary transports, but I support ALL levels of transport. I wish I had a small airplane and a second motor vehicle.

    To each his own!

  9. Response to Forced Air (sorry for the delay; I haven’t been back for awhile):

    I’m in agreement with you – in our auto-centric society, and especially out here in the “wild west” where traveling distances can be HUNDREDS of miles, it would be hard indeed to get ‘er dun without a motor vehicle. I’m grateful that I have one as a “backup plan,” even if it entails groveling to the Missus.

    I’ve packed a lot of stuff in a little trailer behind my bike – groceries, bedding plants, camping gear… even my chain saw once! But – a larger vehicle is handy when it’s a queen-size mattress, or 2×4 studs or sheets of plywood! And I’ve bicycled to Meridian… Kuna… even Emmett. But NOT to SLC or Portland!

  10. The General
    May 18, 2022, 7:15 am

    FA, while all levels of transportation are needed and no one wants to force one method or the other— maybe circumstances outside our own control will force – like a war for example. Let’s conserve our resources while we still have a choice.

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