This past weekend I rode a in three-day, 300 mile charity ride to raise money for the Make A Wish foundation. Thanks to Nick Z for the generous support.
There were 700 riders. As far as I could tell, my '77 Richard Sachs was the oldest bike there. I saw no more than a handful of steel bikes, almost none with fork crowns. There was an early 80's Colnago, and a mid to late 80's Diamant. Even those people who looked twice at my bike, and recognized a fine steel frame, were not familiar with Richard Sachs. "Isn't he the guy who invented the Sachs derailleurs?"
I did not see anyone else with a spare tubular tire attached to the underside of their saddle. For the record, I had one there, and another in my jersey pocket. I was tempted to wear the extra in a figure 8 over my shoulders, but that seemed too ostentatious. I have generally been lucky with sew-ups, and got no flats.
I rode with people who were generally faster than me, staying in the pack, taking a turn up front, and hoping not to embarass myself. Everyone was nice, so I couldn't have been too slow. At one point as I shifted, I said alound that I thought I could use one more gear. The guy next to me asked whether I had 8 or 9 back there. He was deeply surprised when I answered 5. The first day was hilly, and there were headwinds the second day, but the Sachs was a terrific ride, and my Brooks Pro was extremely comfortable. The Campy hubs rolled as well as anything out there. Although the recommended equipment list suggested low gears, and possibly a triple, I did it with the traditional 42/52 and 14-24. And toeclips and sneakers.
I did get a few "wow you did really well for someone with such an old bike" remarks. And "think how much faster you'd be on a new bike." The other thing I heard was, "gee, your bike is really quiet."
It was striking how far out of the mainstream we have become with our old bikes. I wondered too, how much easier it would have been on a bike that was 5 pound lighter. Still, I wouldn't trade any of my old bikes, with their elegance and beauty for a newer one.
Huntington Woods, MI