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Inside an OC Strip Mall Lies an Icon

Published November 10, 2008

LAGUNA HILLS, CA (BRAIN)—Marcel Calborn is a retail icon with some impressive numbers behind his name.

He’s been at his Laguna Hills location, BiciSport, for 26 years. Before that, the 64-year-old spent 18 years in Manhattan Beach. The former Colnago racer started his racing career at 12 years old, and to this day still logs triple digit mileage on the pavement per week.

Beyond the numbers is a man with a loyal following, to the point of being a little bit crazed.

“I have guys that send their bikes to me via courier,” Calborn said nonchalantly. “It costs them $100. I deal to the whole country.”

And although Calborn was recently forced to cut his shop in half due to the rising rent, the nondescript storefront located in a strip mall with a neighboring Chuck E Cheese and Big 5 Sporting Goods still reeks of nostalgia. Whether it be his own frames—Celo Europa and Calborn—or those of Colnago and De Rosa, Calborn’s shop is for someone looking for excellence, both in product and repair.

“Some people say the [repair] price is high, but that’s what it’s going to be when I’m working on your bike for six to seven hours,” Calborn said.

Like so many growing up in Europe, Calborn had a soccer ball at his foot. Next door to the soccer locker room, however, was Calborn’s destiny—the bicycle.

“The guys [who ran the bicycle club] asked me if I have a bike. I said, ‘Oh sure I have a bike,’” Calborn said, with a smirk. “'No, I don’t have a bike.’”

His first race was on a ladies bike, much too small for his frame.

“I had to ride the whole time standing up,” Calborn recalled.

These days Calborn is more than happy to give back to the sport that has given him so much. Every Sunday for the past six months he’s forgone his 50-plus mile rides for something much more mellow for beginners.

But that doesn’t mean he still doesn’t like to challenge himself.

“Once a year I take a group of riders to the Dolomites,” Calborn said. “It’s so beautiful.”

—Jason Norman

Topics associated with this article: Events

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