Tuesday, October 16, 2007

An Interview with Richard Sachs, Part III

"I simply have to make bikes. " -Richard Sachs

In our third and final installment of our interview with Richard, we discuss some of his successes in racing and how he continues to find inspiration for his work.

Click here to read Part I
Click here to read Part II

BKW: Will we see a Sachs team at the ‘cross races in New Belgium this year?

RS: Our team consists of four or five elite level people and some hangers on like me. I’m going to do it again this next year. I had lost interest in road racing by 2000. And then I got hit by a car and broke my leg. I got completely hooked on ‘cross after recovering from my broken leg. I had always supported a ‘cross team, yet I never raced until my broken leg gave me time to reassess my plans. Once I joined my team at the venues, I was hooked.

BKW: Of all the wins that have been achieved on your bikes, what are some of the more memorable ones?

RS: Jonathan Page definitely was an out-front win for us. But we have had a long string of success with the sport. Since ’97, The Richard Sachs Cyclocross Team has won nine separate National Championships. It would be really hard for me to figure out the pecking order of what those mean to me. It’s one big stew of great things for me and the other sponsors. I’m not sure the Page one is the biggest, but it’s the one people are most aware of, which is fine.

BKW: You have talked of drawing inspiration for your work from exceptionally made items that aren’t bicycles, i.e. watches, fountain pens, guitars, etc. What have you been looking at lately that gives you a charge?

RS: In the last five years I became kind of overwhelmed with all those things. I’m like a freakin’ daydreamer. Basically I collect information to inspire me. I was always thinking 'If I could only be the fill-in-blank bike maker I would have nailed it.' The Living Treasures of Japan special on National Geographic Presents really impressed me. The artisans they depicted make things with such respect for what came before them. I wanted to be like them but with bikes as my medium. But, you know how when you eat too much and have to walk away from the table? That’s how I was with this stuff. I’m continually inspired (by it all), yet far less obsessed by it. I simply have to make bikes. I saved all those articles on Jimmy D’Acquisto, and Paul Laubin, and George Nakashima, and Eva Zeisel, and I bought all the books and DVDs I could find on this and similar stuff, but I find myself listening to my own voice much more now than I ever did in the past. I needed to take a break from all the daydreaming of all the stuff I was looking at in the past. They are all still there, and I summon them up when I have to, but they don’t come to me as often as they used to. I hope that’s a good thing. I kinda think it’s an issue of confidence.

In 1997 I had a watershed moment. I was asked to speak at a Berskhire Cycling Association meeting. I went up there with a 25th anniversary frame. I’m driving through the Berkshires rehearsing this stuff and it occurred to me that this is BS; I have all these cue cards I’m going over and I realize that if I dropped them, I wouldn’t be able to make sense enough of them to get them back in order. This voice said, 'Just get up there and talk; what you have to say has value.'

I realized, if I’ve been making bikes for 25 years, I must have a clue, and even if I don’t, I’m allowed to have an opinion. I used to keep my mouth shut, at least, until that day. I finally purged myself of keeping it inside me. I joke about it; I kinda haven’t shut up since.


Return to Part I
Return to Part II

Photos Courtesy: Richard Sachs


Anonymous said...

...thank you...

Anonymous said...

i was at gloucester this past weekend, and i see this guy go by, warming up on a red/white sachs lugged frame... you have to understand (which i know you do) that this is pretty rare these days, to see a frame that isn't carbon or aluminum and that is *lugged* for the love of god. i think to myself, "hey, classy move, riding a sachs at a 'cross race."

a little while later i'm hanging out in the sand pit, heckling various folks as they come through. a guy taking pix next to me sees the same guy on the sachs come through the pit and yells "gogogogogo richard! upupupup!"

it takes me a second, and i turn to camera guy and say, "was that like... richard... as in sachs... richard sachs?"

and indeed it was.


thanks for the posts. really enjoyed them.

gewilli said...

great write up on a legend who is still redefining what it means to be a legend in all the right ways.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for these posts. Great stuff. Makes me want to pony up the $400 and get myself onto the 6-year waiting list. While I wait, I think I might just have to learn how to build one myself...

Anonymous said...

....:::: what ... a great interview.


Thanks a ... lot!


Ron George said...

great post...excellent interview.

i can't imagine waiting 6 years for a bicycle. its insane.

@realjanmaaso said...

I can't imagine not owning a R.S. bike, now that really is insane. I love mine, best money I ever spent!