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Life in the Bike Lane column

Ode to a bicycle

By: Tom Frady
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Twelve years, eight months, 24 days. I don’t know how long that is in bike years but it’s how long I have been riding my Giant OCR. 

It’s 91,609 miles. That’s 32.7 times straight across the United States or 26.7, if I follow MapQuest.

I have ridden this bike from San Francisco to Los Angeles 13 times.  It has taken me from Lincoln to Monterey. 

One of my most challenging and best days on a bike was 137 miles in 105-degree heat. I finished in the dark and my wife was there waiting. 

An educated guess would be I have done more than 1,600 individual rides on this bike, including several over 100 miles. This bike has given me fun, friends, fitness and focus. 

It has transformed me from a bike rider to a cyclist.

In all that time, this bike has never failed to get me home. I have never had an accident from which I couldn’t ride away. It’s an old friend. 

A beat-up but comfortable La-Z-Boy. 

I tell you five loyal readers all this because my 2005 Giant OCR Limited is now retired. It will hang on a rack in the garage, coming down when the ride looks wet or if there is ever an “old timers” parade.

I bought a new bike. At least new to me. It’s another Giant; why not?  For the technical among you, it’s a 2017 Defy Advanced Pro 0. All carbon fiber. Ultegra throughout. Hydraulic disk brakes.  Electronic shifting. Carbon wheels. Thru Axles. It still has the original tires, which means it has just a few hundred miles on it.

A better bike than I am a rider.

I wasn’t my plan to buy a bike right now. I had my old bike tuned up for my most recent San Francisco to Los Angeles ride. The mechanic was amazed at the mileage, said all was good and ready to go but it was getting “noodley,” which is a technical term for the frame was beginning to show its age and getting more flexible than it should be. If bike years are like dog years, it’s pushing 90.

On a subsequent visit to bikes, Lincoln’s new bike shop in the Safeway Center (it only sells used bikes), this bike caught my eye. While I really don’t believe in karma (much), this one was also a Giant, my size, a good color scheme and available for a test ride. 

I took a test ride or two.  OK, three, the last being 42 miles with my buddies. 

Guess what? I could tell the difference. Sharper handling, better acceleration from a stop, crisp braking and it seems like I just thought about shifting and it did. 

I have always been an advocate for checking out used bikes, whether a first bike for a kid or a more upscale ride for a more experienced rider. It is not unusual to find practically new ones with virtually no miles on them. 

Would-be riders buy a nice bike intending to get fit, join the local club and get up at dawn to ride several times a week. But they get scared by traffic, find pedaling is harder than imagined or take a spill in the driveway and sell the bike. 

By buying a gently used bicycle I saved more than 40 percent compared to the same bike new. I was able to get a professional bike fit, purchase some new accessories and maybe get new bike shoes, all for well under what I had budgeted for a bike alone. 

So, happy retirement to my Giant OCR. Welcome to our world, Giant Defy. 

 

Tom Frady is a Lincoln resident and avid cyclist and driver.