For those of you that might not know, Richard Sachs packed up his shop early this year and moved out of the woods of Massachusetts to a quaint little town in central Connecticut. With the race being in Connecticut this weekend we decided it was time for us to spend some quality time together and this meant for me to finally scratch "going for a bike ride with Richard Sachs" off my bucket list.
Because of work, I didn’t end up hitting the road until about 9pm on Wednesday. Not a problem for Richie who was at the door with a smile on his face at 1am. I was sure he wanted to get some sleep, but he wouldn’t let me go to bed without sitting down for a shot of whiskey. Whiskey is kind of his thing, although he says that when you get to the 50 dollar-a-bottle price point it becomes a little lost on him. I wan’t gonna complain, mostly I was worried we would just stay up all night talking. But, after three sips the whiskey was gone and we have to pick this up over coffee in the morning.
Around 8am Richie got tired of waiting for me to wake up and decided to take matters into his own hands by bringing me coffee as well as letting his dog Buddy into my room to lick me awake. After that we had breakfast and headed out to run some quick errands before riding bikes in the early afternoon.
At this point I’ve known Richard for about seven years and this is my sixth season racing for his team but we had yet to actually go for a bike ride together. We’ve missed out on doing the one thing that has connected us for so long. I think we were both excited. Richie wanted to show off his two hour training loop and I was simply excited to ride bikes with someone who has been a mentor and a father figure to me both in sport and life for the last seven years.
We rolled out of town and were soon enough on calm tree lined roads where we could ride side by side. Richie did a bit of narration on the loop we were on. He pointed out his old training grounds from his days of last living in Connecticut, before his time in Massachusetts. The cafe Deb and he will ride to on occasion. We did a quick loop through a private boat club, which I know we weren’t supposed to do, making fun of the private boat club crowd as we went. Then laughed about our rude Jersey-Boy upbringings. It should be noted that Richie still has the poise and composure on the bike that only comes with years of riding. He stands and shifts seamlessly with the terrain in a way that seems like he isn’t even thinking about it. I hope I look this good on a bike in my 60’s.
Afterwards Richie posted up in his favorite spot on the back porch, with his laptop, and — still wearing his kit — caught up on the internet while I took a shower upstairs. From the bathroom window you can look over his whole backyard. In the North West corner of the yard is his new shop. It’s similar to the old shop in Massachusetts that I’m familiar with. Obviously, it is not as lived in yet, and no new frames have left through its doors. It was just very recently finished and Richie was still waiting on final certificate from the town. I asked him how come he didn’t bother setting up a temporary workshop elsewhere so he could have kept building this year. He simply responded with “I don’t do temporary.” A statement that perfectly sums up his attitude towards his workspace, his process, and his bikes.
Another fun fact about Richie is that he greatly dislikes people eating and standing at the same time. So naturally we all sat down to dinner. I know I was a guest in Deb and Richies home but it felt just like what I would imagine Sunday night family dinners take place. Our conversations hit on the current state of cross in the North East. Richie expressing his lack of enthusiasm for the current KMC CX model of “bigger is better." We both lamented the departure of the Baystate UCI weekend even though we would always inevitably freeze our appendages. I think our ability to complain is perhaps a similarity Richie and I share that Deb is constantly trying to gently prod us into growing out of.
After dinner we moved on to whiskey and left the conversations about bikes behind. Instead we killed a few hours talking about the Shakers and their furniture, craft vs art, and a bit about photography. I think the most interesting exchanges were on the subject of craft. We landed on this subject because I was looking at a book of Shaker crafts that had several pages dedicated to woven baskets. Deb was at one point in her life was a professional basket weaver of some renown. So I asked her why were these baskets so impressive. She explained it in much better words than I could hope to use here but it struck me that a big part of appreciating something is knowing what goes into it. This is true when you see the best riders in the world ride a muddy off-camber section and it might not look impressive until you try to ride it. It applies similarly to a Richard Sachs bicycle. Knowing what he puts into them makes them what they are. Perhaps this is also why my appreciation of the man has grown through the years.
Or maybe I was a little bit drunk after realizing the beers I had with dinner were all 9%. Which brings up another fun fact about Richie — when he says he’s getting "dessert" he’s just pouring you more whiskey.