Normally teams will call this a “Team Camp”. I’m not calling it that because getting together at Richie's house in North Massachusetts feels more like a family visit.
Driving to Richard Sachs' place is an exercise in navigation. I remember the first time I was about to make this trip five years ago. Richie emailed me with directions which I did not bother reading. After all I had a cell phone and google maps. If you ever get the pleasure of coming up for a visit don’t do what I did. To this day none of the three ways google maps offers to route you are even close to correct or straight forward. My favorite version taking you all the way into New Hampshire before routing you back south into Massachusetts. Sometimes a paper map and some directions are really your best bet.
Fortunately, I’ve learned my lesson and as long as I don’t miss the last exit of I95 in Massachusetts I usually make it to Richie's house on time. Once off the highway it’s a pleasant drive up a big mountain with no cell service or much of anything else. As you get near the top a small sign welcomes you to Warwick. Another sign warns you that you are entering a “densely populated area” the next thing you see after that is a very small grave yard. The town has a population of just over 700 people and Richie, his wife Deb, and their dog Buddy are the only year round residents on their road. Densely populated is, I guess, pretty subjective.
I picked up my teammate BrittLee in Northampton on my way up from NYC and we caught up on the drive up. Quick tangent. If for some reason you’re interested in my personal life, read on. If not skip to the next paragraph. Britt and I dated for a long time. Last season we broke up. It was mutual. We’re still teammates and friends and no, it’s not weird. We’re both with amazing people now and are stoked for each other. So, when I say we caught up it was mostly cycling gossip from people that don’t run in the same circles for most of the road season. Which mostly consists of who hooked up with who at what crit series over the summer.
We pull up next to Richie's “garage”, that’s where all the bikes bearing his name get made and an insane amount of history sits around in a very neatly arranged manner. So garage is kind of an understatement.
Richie, Deb, and Buddy come out to great us and first order of business since it’s summer is a swim in the pond as we wait for our new teammate Libby to arrive. Richie and I paddle out to the middle of the lake in a canoe. Buddy hops in with us. Britt and Deb take some floats out and meet us out there. We chat a bit about his long queue of customers. He’ll usually remind me about how he never publicly comments on his wait times and all this seven years nonsense is people blowing things out of proportion. Then again he never bothers to correct them either. We keep paddling and talking. Topics generally include articles in The New Yorker, a recent guest on Here’s The Thing, and whatever new British show Deb and Richie are hooked on that may or may not be playing on PBS.
Down time like this is rare for all of us. So I’m trying to soak it all in, out on the pond. I know in a few weeks time I’ll be turning the screws on my self week in and week out and holy shit it’s so much easier to put your self through it when the person that asks you to do it is your friend.
We paddle back in just in time to get ready for dinner and our new teammates arrival.
If you haven’t heard yet the team has added two U23 riders both of whom have represented USA at the world championships. Libby White and Sam O’Keefe are also great humans who will fit in nicely into our little family. I’ve actually known Sam almost as long as I’ve been racing cross. We were beating each other up when he was still a junior and I was snot nosed bike messenger punk racing in the “Killer B’s” Mid Atlantic series. I don’t know Libby that well but we got to meet officially at the Transylvanian Mountain Bike Epic in May and then she thoroughly schooled everyone at croquet at Richies. Croquet was also the most competitive / athletic thing we did at our “team camp”. With four months of nothing but long race weekends and even longer drives in front of us, it’s important to relax when you can.
The bikes weren’t ready yet at the time and as of right now they are still not quite ready for public consumption. Feel free to send emails to House Industries asking them to speed it up with the photo retouching, but not too fast, because they do some badass photo retouching. I can tell you the bikes are new colors again. The guys at House went with a 1950’s British race car vibe that was inspired by a paint job on one of Richie’s bikes from the 80’s. I think this is what’s known as bringing things full circle in design terms. See below for the one photo we were allowed to leak! This is going to be fun.
In other last minute news, Libby got selected to represent the US at the first ever Cross Vegas World Cup. So, if you’re going to be out there make sure to cheer her on.
Next week: Final season prep aka huffing glue trying to convince my self that after this many years I shouldn’t be nervous.