Interview with Richard Sachs: :RaceListings.com

Legendary master frame builder Richard Sachs has put together one of the finest cyclocross specific teams in the country. RaceListings.com caught up with Richard for this exclusive interview.

Tell us about your background in cycling.

The full story is buried on various pages within my website (www.richardsachs.com), but to be concise, I entered the bicycle business in late 1971 and Richard Sachs Cycles began in 1975. Years earlier, as a student, I developed an interest in bicycles but particularly in road bicycles. Before I had even an inkling to pursue a life in the industry, I was captivated by the sport of bicycle racing. At the time, (late 1960s …), I attended The Peddie School near Princeton, New Jersey, and I fully credit Fred Kuhn of Kopp’s Cycles for planting the initial seed that blossomed into ‘all this’.

In a nutshell, I was captivated by him, his co-worker Dick Swann, and the atmosphere and lore surrounding their shop. I read everything I could about the sport, and subscribed to various international race-oriented magazines, and from there I morphed from academia into a bike guy. I bypassed entrance to Goddard College in order to spend most of 1972 in London at Witcomb Lightweight Cycles learning about frame making. Away from my bench, my sporting history began at my first A.B.L. race in Vermont in 1971 and I’ve been involved ever since.

Since 1973 I have been in C.Y.B.C., the Connecticut Yankee Bicycle Club. I’m a licensed Cat 2 on the road and track. Up until this year I’d enter 45-50 races each year, but in January 2002 I was hit by a car and broke a leg. Three months off of the bicycle had me rethinking my weekend plans for the first time since the 70s.

You sponsored road teams for years but it seems that you have switched all your resources to the cyclo-cross team. Why the change?

I came up in the era of ‘clubs-with-sponsors’ as opposed to ‘teams’. I lament the events that caused those changes to occur and will tell anyone privately how much I think that the sport’s development was adversely affected by the changes … However, I feel that I’m obliged to give back to the sport for providing me with a life of pleasure and a livelihood too. In essence, I was sponsored when I raced as a Senior and now I do the same for the current crop. FWIW, I began sponsoring C.Y.B.C. in 1981 and have continuously done so. The faces have changed and several supporting cast-members have too, but the club still exists and we do what we can to keep it going.

Through the most recent years, we have deemphasized the ‘road’ involvement. The last year in which I sponsored a full fledged road team was 2000.

In 1995, Adam Myerson spoke to me about a possible sponsorship for the cyclocross season. The liaison was an immediate success. Adam rode for me for three seasons and his results speak for themselves. Adam was and is the consummate sponsored rider; always up-to-speed on the product, always courteous, and always in the money. It was a perfect match.

That relationship evolved into my support of a core team plucked from NECSA, a squad I had been sponsoring on the road. Pal and racing buddy Dave Genest suggested fielding a team of NECSA riders that would be successful within various divisions and age groups. In 1998 we had more supported riders achieve podium spots at the National Championships than any other team competing. These successes included 3 National Championship jerseys and four other 2nds and 3rds. Among these was Justin Spinelli’s 2nd place in the Espoir category, right behind Tim Johnson.

The next year we had similar success with Alicia Genest winning her first National Championship. Jonathan Page joined us the following year and Katrina Davis and Tyler Johnson joined us last year.

So why the switch to ‘cross???

Simply put, it’s more fun. It’s a welcome change. And it’s easier to focus energy and resources on a season that spans 4 months. On the flip side, the road scene is so different today than when, as recently as 5 years ago, C.Y.B.C. had powerful Senior 1 and 2 teams. The amateur side of the sport is now unrecognizable to me, while the involvement with ‘cross poses fun challenges and, well-fun!

What are the team’s objectives for the season?

We would like each rider on the podium at Napa. That’s a very achievable goal. Winning Stars and Stripes jerseys would be icing on the cake. We also emphasize camaraderie. All of us are friends first. That we happen to all race together, have fun together each weekend, and have realized a modicum of success—these are all components that have allowed us to really enjoy the autumn season each of these past 5-6 years.

At last year’s National Championships your team had five podium appearances including victories in the Espoir Women’s race (Alicia Genest) and the WomenĂ­s 30-34 race (Katrina Davis). The next day Jonathan Page won the Elite Men’s Race in the SuperCup final. Tell us about the feelings you had that weekend watching your riders score these huge wins.

I was speechless. The Ft. Devens National Championships were our team’s first mass success.

Then we did great the following year in San Francisco. And though in December 2000, Kansas City was FREEZING, we felt nothing but joy because the team was so hot there … but Baltimore could not have been scripted any better! Alicia won the Epoir woman’s race as well as the Collegiate event. Dave was 4th in the 50 plus event. Katrina won the 30 plus race.

Tyler was a quarter-lap from a 2nd in the men’s espoir event but a late race mechanical dropped into a very commendable 3rd place. J.P. got 4th in the elite men’s race on Saturday, BUT ON SUNDAY’S SUPERCUP final event his victory over Marc Gullickson was simply the stuff of legend. He attacked near the last set of barriers and nearly lost his lead with a momentary slip up, but regained his composure before the asphalt to win handily and win solo. The graphic of him winning is permanently etched in my head as well as on the celebratory tee shirts we printed!

While it would’ve been nice to see J.P. win the National Championship, given a choice I’m more pleased that he won that last SuperCup because it was the final event of the weekend and it’s the one that people will remember most from the 2002 season.

Tell us about the cyclo-cross bikes you built for the team. Do you have a “philosophy” for ‘cross bikes?

My interest in ‘cross developed after attending the World Championships at Crystal Palace in London in 1973 and witnessing Eric De Vlaeminck win one of his seven titles. I was awestruck by the event.

I started building ‘cross bicycles in 1978 because some of my C.Y.B.C. teammates were part of an earlier ‘cross renaissance that occurred in the states in that era.

Fast forward to the present … at the level at which we compete, the bicycles cannot be an afterthought. For others, an outdated parts group from a road frame added to a generic ‘cross frame might carry you through the season, but our riders need light, serviceable, ‘cross specific bicycles.

The frames are all Dedaccai tubes and weigh just over 3.5 pounds and the components are the best available thanks to the support of Cane Creek, Selle San Marco, 3T, Rudy Project, TimeSport U.S.A., and Gommitalia. We have additional support for the team through the generosity of Brown & Sharpe, IdeaGraphics, Exhibits Plus, Joe Bell Paint, and Verge Sport. All in all, we’re very lucky and proud to have such a fine group of companies putting their faith in us!

What do you see in the future for the Richard Sachs Cyclocross Team?

We want to help each of the riders to achieve his/her potential. We want to help promote brand awareness for all of our loyal sponsors. We want to have as much fun as possible. And we want those podium spots at Napa.