Winter warriors: Snow is no obstacle to these hard-core bicycle commuters

Kansas University graduate student Julian Kuettner, of Engen, Germany, dismounts his bicycle for the last stretch up 13th Street toward the KU campus on Friday. Many local cyclists continue on two wheels throughout the winter months, but often at a much slower pace.

Lawrence resident Terry Culp maneuvers his bike through snow Friday on his daily commute to work.

On his way to work Friday morning, Terry Culp bundled up in long underwear, jeans, a T-shirt, thermal top, coat, stocking cap and two pairs of gloves.

“I try to make it so I don’t sweat,” said Culp, who bikes 4 miles to work in snow and frigid temperatures.

“They look at me like ‘What are you doing out here?'” Culp said about those he passes on his daily route from east Lawrence to Scotch Fabric Care at Sixth and Florida streets.

Culp is among a group of winter warriors — hard-core bicycle commuters and recreationists — who keep on pedaling despite the snow.

Some even like it.

“It’s fun,” said Benn Stover, an employee at Cycle Works who keeps riding in the winter to stay in racing shape. “It’s a different challenge, different scenery. I do different routes because it takes longer to ride in the snow. It slows you down. It’s not as windy, and you get a workout in at a slower speed.”

Bicycling enthusiast Eric Struckhoff said the streets were too slick Friday for him to bike up the hill for his mile-and-a-half commute to Kansas University.

Thursday evening he was able to make fresh tracks on local trails in Lawrence. Riding through 8 inches of fresh snow is doable but calls for pretty hard pedaling.

“There are a few people in town were it’s kind of an unspoken race to be the first one down to the trails after the first new snow,” Struckhoff said.

Winter bicycling requires several layers of clothes, sturdy tires, a lot of lighting and a well-tuned bike, Stover said.

In the past few months, Culp has picked up a few tips on winter biking. He figured out that in insulated coveralls he sweats too much. He has also learned to avoid loose snow.

“Your front tire goes one way and your back goes the other direction,” Culp said.

And when his feet start to lose circulation, the best thing to do is to get off and push the bike for a block or so.

Culp started commuting by bike last April when his truck needed transmission work. So far, there have been just two days that the weather has kept Culp off his bike. One of them was Thursday.

Sure, Culp said, he could ride the bus, but the bike is always right there. He does, however, admit looking forward to warmer weather.

“Summertime. I can’t wait for it,” he said.