By MARG JACKSON
Going strong for 40 years, the Oakdale Bicycle Shop on East F Street in downtown Oakdale is a bicycle rider’s mecca.
Much more than just selling bicycles and accessories, the shop – affectionately known as OBS by regulars – hosts weekly rides through picturesque Central Valley locations, services and repairs bikes and engages a community dedicated to the sport of cycling.
Owner Dave Enz, who bought the shop some four-and-a-half years ago, said the business itself marked its 40th anniversary this past Oct. 1.
“Mel Sanguinetti started it,” Enz said, noting that its first location is where Oakdale’s House of Beef restaurant/catering business now stands, along North Third Avenue.
A former regular customer, Enz said when Sanguinetti was getting ready to retire, he offered to sell the shop to Enz. It was a fairly easy decision, especially since Enz definitely wanted to see the shop stay in business.
“We expanded to another area and that doubled our space,” the owner explained of taking over an adjoining shop in the 400 block of East F. “We just finished up with that, less than three months ago.”
Now, the business has its ‘showroom’ floor jam packed with bicycles, clothing, helmets, mirrors, water bottles and other accessories, and a service area for repairs, tune-ups and the like.
“I’ve been a cyclist forever,” admitted Enz, who spent 30 years working at an electronics store and 10 more years in the lighting business before retiring.
“Retirement is pretty boring,” he added. “I had been friends with Mel for years and he asked me if I wanted to buy the shop. Mel did a great job to keep it going for that long.”
Centrally located in the 209, Enz said the hills around Oakdale provide some of the finest cycling routes available.
“It’s the best road riding area,” he said. “Everyone loves Knights Ferry and there’s also Tulloch.”
Most of the bicycles sold on site are the road riding variety, though they also have some mountain bikes. Many people tend to think of bicycles as a good gift during the holidays, which Enz said they are, but the shop is dedicated to the sport year-round.
The cycling group out of OBS recently took part in a Giro D’Vino ride through the Woodbridge and Lodi areas, a scenic ride through vineyards that featured some wine tasting stops along the way.
For the novice, Enz and his staff can fill you in on all the different types of bicycles and the specifics of each. Their main brand, he said, is the Giant line of bicycles from Taiwan, the largest manufacturer of bicycles in the world. Their Litespeed Titanium models from Chattanooga, Tennessee also are big sellers and they have Colnago Italian bicycles as well.
Along with Enz, the staff includes Store Manager Ed Battisfore and Service Area Manager Andre Hummer. The shop has been honored four years in a row, voted as ‘America’s Best Bike Shop’ through the National Bicycle Dealers Association.
“They send you a monster questionnaire,” Enz explained of part of the process for the honor. “There is a secret shopper, two secret shopper phone calls, it also is based on your community activities, supporting the ‘Safe Route to Schools’ program, doing rides and being proficient in sales and service.”
The award-winning shop also partners with Bell Racing out of Turlock for a racing team and is involved with the Bikes for Kids charity, which this year will help provide a minimum of 100 bicycles for underprivileged kids for Christmas.
Bicycles are distributed through the Children’s Guardian house and Children’s Crisis Center.
A regular last Friday night of the month social gathering is hosted at the shop and the coordinated rides are offered on a regular basis, primarily on Saturdays and in a midweek evening ride.
“The community that the shop has built, I will always come and spend my money here,” said rider Bill Holmes of Modesto. “Oakdale Bicycle Shop really benefits the community here. They are very knowledgeable about their bikes.”
Holmes said there are different levels of rides, from the shorter treks to the longer routes that take cyclists deep into the foothills.
“There’s something for everybody,” Holmes said.
Modesto resident John Hernandez, who said he has been friends with Enz for more than 20 years, switched to bicycle riding after an injury.
“I used to be a runner but I broke my ankle and the doctor said no more running,” he said of taking up cycling. “I just love being out, away in the country, there’s minimal traffic and I’m at over 9,000 miles for the year.”
He does the Saturday rides on a regular basis and sometimes does the Wednesday night ride as well.
“I also like the health benefits,” Hernandez pointed out. “I turned 60 years old and I’m still going.”
Brian Elliott of Riverbank is another regular, though he doesn’t get to ride every week.
“I like the physical part of it, plus the friends,” he said of developing those connections with fellow cyclists, like Rodney Eckerdt of Modesto, who has been a regular rider with the OBS group for nearly seven years.
For Danelle Fenley of Oakdale, she’s been riding for about a year and half, and previously rode regularly for about six years.
“It’s like therapy except you don’t have to talk to anyone,” Fenley said, chuckling. “Plus you can make it as hard as you want or as easy as you want. And you get to see the beautiful country.”
Along with owning the shop, Enz is a regular rider and said all the OBS rides include ride leaders, at least two and often three, who are spread out through the pack to ensure all cyclists make it to their destination.
“We are very focused on supporting the riding community,” Enz said.
Oakdale Bicycle Shop
445 E. F St., Oakdale
Monday-Friday: 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Saturday: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.