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The man behind the bumper sticker ‘Go See Ken’ discusses bicyling around The Woodlands

December 4, 2018

It doesn’t take long for those driving around The Woodlands and other areas of the Houston region to see cars with the “Go See Ken” bumper sticker adorning vehicles.

After almost 24 years of serving the greater Houston cycling community, Ken Thurlow — the manager of Shenandoah-based Bike Lane — has become a key figure in the cycling culture of both The Woodlands and Houston.

“Everyone that asked where they should get a bike or where they should go to get it fixed — just go see Ken at Bike Lane,” Thurlow said.

Thurlow opened Bike Lane in 1995 with owners Jane and Herb Beimgraben in a little shop off FM 1960. More than two decades later, the phrase “Go See Ken” has become a running mantra for those looking to get work done on their bikes or more professional cyclists looking for specialty products.

As manager, Thurlow works closely with the owners to reflect the cycling world’s trends in their stock of more than 400 bicycles kept on the showroom floor, ranging from a $200 entry-level bike to a $16,000 Cervélo carbon-framed racing bicycle.

“I do everything,” Thurlow said. “I do it all.”

At some point, Thurlow said, a gag gift sticker that was emblazoned with the motto in the ‘Comic Sans’ font became a way for customers to show their devotion to the store. To date, the store has distributed around 11,000 of the popular green bumper stickers.

The stickers haven’t just become ubiquitous in greater Houston — Bike Lane’s website features a page boasting photographs of the sticker on cars and signs in places as far away as Kazakhstan, China, Nepal and Australia — all sent to the shop from loyal customers who were travelling or moving abroad.

“We’ve built a good clientele,” Thurlow said. “Our customers advertise for us.”

Maurizio Topini, a member of The Woodlands’ Cycling Club who frequents the shop, said cycling is a long-standing tradition for the active community in The Woodlands,

Topini explained that three bike shops in the area — Sun and Ski Sports, Bike Land and Bicycle World — host shop rides in the area. Several Facebook groups centered on cyclists in The Woodlands organize groups to explore the more than 200 miles of concrete pathways and nature trails in the township, as well as training rides further out into the Montgomery County.

“There’s a lot of camaraderie,” Topini said. “Everyone knows each other.”

Randall Cade, who is heavily involved with the Bike The Woodlands Coalition, said the mater planned community is a good place to ride, but the past few years have brought an uptick in the population — and automotive traffic — of the township, not to mention the dangers that come when cyclists are forced to share the road with cars, as athletes often do when training for events.

In 2016, the township’s Board of Directors approved a pedestrian and bicycle master plan detailing improvements to the bicycle path network, aside from the 2015 South County Mobility Plan prepared by the Houston-Galveston Area Council, to address gaps in the current network. A short-term, five-year plan, detailing a $12 million expansion of pedestrian and cycling infrastructure, would add almost 5 miles of shared use paths, more than 10 miles of side paths and almost 11 miles of bike lanes in The Woodlands.

In late 2018, the township board approved applying for grant funds from H-GAC in an effort to improve several bicyling paths and routes throughout the township. Officials expect to received word on whether or the township will receive the grant funding by spring of 2019.

The improvements would just add to the amount of township residents able to participate in the sport for both recreation and fitness, Cade said.

Bike Lane’s place in the cycling culture of The Woodlands goes beyond providing maintenance and selling bikes. For Thurlow, the job allows him to introduce young and beginner riders to the sport and see them grow as bicyclists.

“The people I’ve met,” Thurlow said. “That’s the best part.”

mrincon@chron.com

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