TC Bike Life is a story series featuring ordinary people doing ordinary things on their bicycles in Traverse City.
As we look back on an awesome Winter Bike To Work and School Day, guest writer, Mary Mantei, caught up with Chad Schut, one of Traverse City’s 100+ participants to tell his story.
Meet Chad Schut: Year-Round Bike Commuter
by Mary Mantei
If you check out the Norte! postings regularly, you know that February 12th was International Winter Bike to Work and School Day. For some of us, it might have been a one-time yearly celebration of the possibility that we could actually bike to work or school when itʼs 2 degrees and snowing and feel good when we get there!
For Chad Schut, it was another daily celebration of being able to ride his bike to work, which he does year-round. Most mornings, Chad rises at 3:45 a.m., dons his winter bike gear, and is rolling by 4:15 a.m. His 10.5 mile bike commute to Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics, about a mile south of Elk Rapids, takes him 50 minutes in the winter, and around 30 minutes the rest of the year. And he loves it all!
Bike commuting is not a new adventure for Chad. He started in 1997, riding only in the non-winter months. His first winter commuting bike was a single-speed cyclocross with fenders and studded tires. Enter fatbike technology in 2006 for Chad! That was a game-changer! Winter-commuting became more fun and easier! Chad started riding year-round to his job at the Sara Lee Bakery on Case Rd. His next employment opportunity took him to Materne, North America in Grawn. And yes, he continued to bike-commute the 32 mile round trip, on and off, for the next two years. Chad credits the network of TART Trails throughout the Grand Traverse region for making commuting by bike easier than when he first began 19 years ago.
In addition to bike commuting, Chad loves bike-packing. In 2013, after 2 years of planning, Chad loaded up his bike with all the gear needed to ride as much dirt as he could from Copper Harbor in the Keewanee Peninsula to his home in Williamsburg MI. Five days after starting, he arrived home, having ridden 589 miles, and only 28 miles of pavement! And 2 years later he did it again with a friend who only had 4 days to do it and so they did.
I asked Chad what he has learned about himself through year-round commuting and all his biking adventures. He was thoughtful and said, “Thereʼs a limit – but you can push that limit. I havenʼt met it yet.” Our “limits” do expand it seems in those areas of our lives that are fueled by fun, and novelty, and commitment.
If you are thinking of “push(ing) that limit” regarding winter bike-commuting, Chad has a few tips:
• Invest in good winter gear; itʼs worth it for the comfort
• DO NOT skimp on a light system. And I quote, “You want to be lit up like a Christmas tree!” You want other trail users and motorists to see you
• For bitter cold and heavy snow days, invest in a pair of goggles.
Chad has been experimenting with bike commuting for 19 years. He would be the first to say itʼs a lifestyle that has evolved over time. If you are intrigued by Chadʼs story, whatʼs one thing you could do to push your current biking limit just a bit and shape TC Bike Life differently? Now go do it! Itʼs a simple way to be even happier than you are.
TC Bike Life aims to create awareness for the growing presence of people on bicycles in Traverse City, one story at a time.
Like to ride bikes in Traverse City? We’d love to tell your story too! Click HERE to answer 4 short and easy Qs and a writer will be in touch.
Learn more about Traverse City Winter Bike To Work and School Day HERE.
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