Justine is a writer and a college instructor who lives in Queens and blithely cycles all over New York for transportation and recreation. This is a departure from her cycling past: the past of a lycra-wearing, hard-training, fast-spinning, Alps-conquering roadie... named Nick. As the meaning of this sinks in, it is self-evident why Justine's point of view is so valuable. She has experienced the cycling world from two diametrically opposed perspectives: that of a competitive male roadie, and that of a woman who cycles to work in a skirt and heels - and she has much to share about both.
And then there are Justine's spectacular bicycles!... She has two custom-built, lugged steel Mercians: a roadbike and a single-speed fixed gear, both in an intriguing colour that Mercian calls "flip-flop purple green." It looks lilac under some lighting conditions, but changes to green under others.
Here is a close-up where you can sort of see the colour change on the rear stays. Justine likes both the Mercians and the colour so much, that she has recently ordered a third one: a mixte model called the Miss Mercian. For those interested in custom lugged mixtes, Mercian is a great option in addition to Rivendell and Velo Orange: The frames come in custom sizes and are fairly priced - including custom colour.
Because I respect her opinion on bicycle-related matters, Justine's preference for Mercian Cycles has made me curious. Mercian has been handbuilding custom lugged steel frames since 1946 in Derby, England. Their models include track, road, and touring diamond frames, as well as a touring mixte. Some vintage Mercian models had elaborate lugwork and are now highly collectible. Over the decades, Mercian's reputation for quality has not changed, and whether in bike shops or on cycling forums, you will be hard pressed to find anything but positive feedback about them - which is particularly impressive considering their reasonable pricing.
[image via Mark Gell on flickr]
This sage green trackbike is the sort of Mercian I would not mind falling into my lap...
Miss Mercian all built up: no doubt there are some interesting adventures in its future. Justine has toured extensively on her trusty bicycles, including such dreamy routes as the Loire Valley of France, the Mediterranean coast, the Rhine, the Alps, and the Pyrenees. Her descriptions of cycling routes are filled with interesting information and nostalgia, making even a ride through New Jersey sound intriguing. And you know she is a practical woman, as she wisely heeds the old adage when it comes to bicycles: If you like something, get two... or three!