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Rolling Relics cyclists hit the road in Lodi

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Posted: Monday, June 25, 2012 12:00 am | Updated: 7:08 am, Mon Jun 25, 2012.

Some look factory-new, decked out with shining chrome. Others are so rusted they look unsafe to ride. Almost all of them were rescued from a garage, online sale or junk shop before being restored to some level of their former beauty.

These are the steel horses of the Rolling Relics, a group of cyclists crazy about vintage bikes.

"Bike shows are great — we all go. But they're so flashy. If you're gonna have a bike, you should ride it," said Tony DeLorenzo of Stockton.

DeLorenzo started the group last July so he and his buddies could have a chance to enjoy the bikes they work so hard on. On Sunday, he was riding a 1935 Schwinn. He finds most of his bikes at flea markets, bike sales and his friends' garages.

The cyclists meet up once a month in a different city. There's a core group of about 20 that show up for every ride, but more than 60 were ready to hit the road on Sunday. The group rode north on Lower Sacramento Road, making their way to Lodi Lake at a leisurely pace.

Craig Hilliker rode in circles on Taylor Road with friend Zach Stillman, both from Modesto, while they waited for the ride to set out. Hilliker got started cycling a year ago for weight loss riding a modern cruiser. On Sunday he had Gatsby, a bright green 1959 Schwinn Typhoon. Ten other bikes have taken over his garage.

Stillman grinned while preparing to ride off on his 1985 road bike.

"It's not exactly vintage, but it's what I've got," he said.

John Paval of Stockton rides vintage in an effort to keep relics alive. He was on a 1958 Schwinn, and says he definitely prefers riding vintage bikes to modern ones.

"It's the difference between American-made and Chinese-made. These are heavier," he said. "And 70 or so years later, you can still use them."

Paval rides with the Rolling Relics because it's a no-muss way to enjoy vintage bikes with like minds.

"There are no meetings, no presidents, no dues. We just get together and ride," he said.

Want to get into vintage bikes? Amateur bicycle recycler Jim Frazier recommends checking out www.thecabe.com. It's the website for the Classic and Antique Bicycle Expo, a group dedicated to bicycle collectors and learning more about the hobby. It's not always cheap, though some lucky searchers can find treasures at crazy low prices. A fully restored bike could run into the thousands, depending on the year.

Frazier got into the hobby after growing up in the car business and working as an auto wrecker for 36 years.

"I got tired of crawling around under cars all day. With these, you can set them up on a rack and walk all around them," he said. "It gives me something to keep going."

Some diehards feel the need to keep their bikes in mint condition, but the Rolling Relics want to show off their prizes.

"Keep vintage bikes on the road, not locked in the garage," said Paval.

Contact reporter Sara Jane Pohlman at sarap@lodinews.com.

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