Today I took my third and, so far, longest ride on my Miss Mercian.
I took a route I've pedalled a number of times before on my other two Mercians and on at least a couple of other bicycles. But this is the first time I did that ride, which is about 45 miles, on a women's/mixte frame.
From my apartment, I rode over the Queensborough/59th Street Bridge to Manhattan. Then, I rode up the East Side to East Harlem, where I cut across to West Harlem and continued up to Washington Heights and the George Wahsington Bridge. Then, I rode along the top of the Palisades from Fort Lee to just north of Jersey City, where I pedalled down to the waterfront. The docks where a young Marlon Brando pouted and glowered are long gone; now tall condominium towers mute the gazes of children in the park at the base of those buildings.
Still, there is something I rather like about the light there. Perhaps it is its consistency: Whether I am playing chicken with the rain or tag with the sun, everything there always seems tinged with shades of metal, in particular the kind of titanium gray that refracts into gunmetal blues that can turn almost anything from lilac to aqua. I find it oddly comforting, even soothing.
From there, I rode some less picturesque parts of town to Bayonne, where I rode across the bridge that bears the town's name to Staten Island and the Ferry named after it.
I must say, I was surprised at both the comfort and responsiveness of the bike. I expected both, though more of the former, as Miss Mercian's geometry is slightly less agressive than that of my other two Mercians. However, the bike doesn't accelerate quite as quickly as either Arielle or Tosca. Again, that was something I expected, and even wanted.
Before today's ride, I switched the tires. I had a pair of Paselas that, I think, were mis-labelled: They are marked 700 X 32 C, but they seemed slightly narrower than the 700 X 28C Continental Grand Prix Four-Season tires on my other two Mercians. The rims could not have accounted for the difference: I have Mavic Open Pros on all three bikes. Still, I like the response of the Paselas, so I might try them on either of the other two Mercians when the Contis wear out.
Today I rode another Panaracer tire: the RiBMo (I hate the acronym!) 700x35. It weighs about one and a half times as much as the Paselas, which are about 20 grams heavier than the Contis. I'm sure they added to the stability of the bike if they took away a bit of its responsiveness. Since the Miss Mercian is not going to be my "speed machine", I don't mind that. Plus, I think they look more appropriate than the skinnier tires on MM. So, I think I'm going to keep them on the bike, at least for now.
Speaking of looks: Check out the way the top tube is joined to the seat tube.
This bike is going to be a lot of fun and will look very stylish doing it. And, with her fenders, porteur bars and other accessories, she has a bit of a French accent even if she's English. I've decided to name her Helene.