22 October 2016

Arielle Is Ten; Tomorrow Tosca Turns Nine

Today marks an anniversary for me.

No, I am not secretly married in some other state or country.  And I am not talking about the beginning of some business venture, sobriety or any other milestone people mark in their lives.  

Actually, today is a milestone, for me anyway.  You see, ten years ago on this date, I got my first.  And you know what they say:  There's nothing like the first.

If you've been following this blog, you may have guessed what I am talking about:  my Mercians.

Yes, on 22 October 2006, I picked up Arielle--my custom Mercian Audax--from Bicycle Habitat in Soho.  My first ride with her took me through streets in the neighborhood, in the East and West Villages and other parts of lower Manhattan.  

You could say I fell in love.  Actually, that happened before I got the bike:  Hal Ruzal, the Mercian Maven at Habitat, let me ride one of his bikes.  And he seemed to understand what I wanted:  something responsive, but not necessarily a racing bike.  Something comfortable, but definitely not a fully-loaded touring bike, let alone a mountain bike or hybrid.  

Also, I wanted something beautiful.

He recommended getting a custom (my top tube is shorter than is typically found on bikes of my size) version of the Audax, a bike made, as he said, "for centuries and day rides."  And, as he pointed out, the horizontal dropouts with adjustment screws would allow me to shorten or elongate the wheelbase a bit, allowing a faster or cushier bike.

On that first ride, I could see that I had the best of both worlds.  I felt as if I were on a magic carpet that could dodge and outrun the taxis (yes, even New York taxis!) or anything else on the road.  The couple of times I stopped for traffic lights, strangers complimented my new steed.

I knew then, to paraphrase one of the most famous movies of all time, that my ride that day was the beginning of a beautiful relationship.

Today, ten years later, I've owned and ridden Arielle for longer than all except one bike I've ever owned.  And she's been in my life for longer than any lover (or my former spouse) and all except a handful of friends (and two cats) were.  She's also been with me for longer than I've stayed on any job or lived in any one place.  

Plus, she's led to some other beautiful relationships.  One year and one day later, I wheeled Tosca, my Mercian fixed-gear out of Habitat.  Helene, my first Miss Mercian followed almost three years later.  Another year later, I found Vera, my green Mercian mixte, on eBay.  

I've enjoyed many rides with them.  Some of them are on this blog.  They've all been great, beginning with the first, ten years ago--already!--today.


  1. Lugs,Reynolds tubing and brazing rod-the perfect antidote to carbon fiber silliness.

  2. Gets my dreaming into overdrive. Just wish the images we not so small and impossible to drool over the details...