Former Zag, NBA player trades basketball for cycling



Posted on July 21, 2013 at 2:56 PM

Updated Tuesday, Jul 23 at 9:19 AM

SPOKANE, Wash. -- Gonzaga marked the beginning of a long road for Richie Frahm. It took him around the world, meandered from one NBA city to the next, only to lead him back to Spokane. Like anyone on an unfamiliar path, the road Frahm was looking for seemed to find him.

PHOTOS: Richie Frahm's college and professional career

"I thought it was a joke,” Frahm said, “because I was like 'Who's gonna ride a road bike, who wants to wear spandex?'"

After retiring in 2011 and spending some time as an assistant in the NBA's Developmental League, Frahm and his wife returned to Spokane. In spring of 2012 he brought a bike given to him by his brother to a shop. While there, a member of the River City Red cycling team introduced himself to Frahm,

"Long story short we connected and our first group ride was 60 miles,” Frahm said. “I couldn't believe it."

"You got 30 guys wearing their race kit and I was showing up with baggy shorts and a tank top and I don't know what they're thinking looking at me."

After watching some races and working up the courage to go tire-to-tire, Frahm entered a new competitive realm last July.

"Playing at the NBA, the top level, you think 'okay I can do this'. You have that arrogance about you.

"I went from the front of the pack halfway through the race to being dropped off the back and getting dead last in my first race," Frahm said. "I was just mad.  I was like 'those guys aren't faster than me why are they beating me?'"

That stoked a competitive fire Frahm hoped to replace once his basketball career was over. Just as he put on mileage going from team to team, he's now racking up a different kind.

"I'll get up at six o'clock," Frahm said. "I'll try to do three or four hours at least three or four times a week. For me I'm trying to get 200 miles plus per week outside of races."

As a result, Frahm has lost 25 pounds - from his playing weight of 215, to where he stands now at 190. But no amount of weight loss will cut into his above average 6-foot-5-inch frame.

"There are no mirrors on the road so I don't know how big I look on a bike."

And it hasn't seemed to matter. This season he has logged two wins and placed in the top three multiple times, including a second place finish at the Lilac City Twilight Criterium on July 6th. Those results gave him enough points to earn a spot in Nationals in Bend, OR this September.

"My motivation coming into the season was to win races to get those points," Frahm said. "It seems like I was peaking about three weeks ago where I was winning everything I was doing."

Despite the early ascent, Frahm willingly admits that he still has plenty to figure out. And he's learning from teammates who have been pounding the pedals for decades. The bond he has built with that group is one crucial parallel between his old sport and new passion.

"It's fun just being part of a group of guys that just want to get out there and suffer together."

However, Frahm admitted that it seemed unthinkable.

"A couple guys that I played in Seattle with had road bikes and they'd ride around Lake Washington," Frahm said. "Luke Ridnour and Ray Allen - and I thought that was crazy."

Now he can't get the road off his mind.
"I haven't touched a basketball for a year, so it must be replacing something," Frahm said. "I loved basketball and I still do. I watch it and follow it, but for me to get out on a basketball court I don't think about it. I just get on a bicycle and go."