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Bicyclist sees every county, calls state ‘stunning’

Tue., July 4, 2006

BOISE – Starting in Boundary County on May 31 and finishing just before the Fourth of July in Boise, Kirk Hall pedaled his bicycle into every one of Idaho’s 44 counties.

Hall, 62, who regularly commutes by bicycle in Boise, said his monthlong scenic ride throughout the state wasn’t meant to make a statement about gas prices. “I’m not sure I saved money, given what I ate and spent on rooms, but I sure had fun,” Hall said Monday.

Here’s what he learned after traveling solo for 2,100 miles, climbing 57,000 feet, and logging about 70 miles a day: “We all say that Idaho is a beautiful state, and I think I have some authority to say that’s true.” With this year’s rains, the state is green and gorgeous, Hall said. “It was just stunning right now. … I’d encourage anyone to get out and see this state.”

Hall was inspired to make his 44-county ride by the state’s “Idaho Passport” program, which offers people a chance to get a stamp from every county and win recognition for visiting them all. “It got me thinking about doing it a different way,” said Hall, who’s retired after a career as a Bonneville Power Administration official and former head of the state’s Energy Office under then-Gov. John Evans.

He works part time now for REI. “That’s how I pay for these toys,” he said, gesturing to his bicycle and a streamlined bike trailer on which he carried his gear.

Hall’s trailer was from BOB Trailers Inc., a manufacturer that recently relocated to Boise from San Luis Obispo, Calif. His bike was from REI.

Hall, who’s clearly fit, said his trip didn’t require Superman-like fitness levels. “With something like this, it takes more persistence than fitness,” he said. “I’d be up early and go ‘til 6 or 7 in the evening. With the exception of two days of heavy headwinds, it wasn’t that hard.”

Gov. Jim Risch, who greeted Hall on the state Capitol steps Monday at the end of his ride, said: “It’s a great state. I think a lot of people don’t get around to parts of the state that they don’t live in. We’re so separated by geography.”

Idaho Tourism Administrator Carl Wilgus said 810 travelers, including one pet cat, have now visited all 44 Idaho counties and been recognized through the Idaho Passport program. Hall was the first to do it by bicycle.

Hall said he plans to relax today and watch a parade with his grandkids. In two weeks, the family is headed on a weeklong river rafting adventure.


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