Sunday, 16 February 2014

All about Mermaid

 Following the demise of my quirky little Cinzia, I'm riding Mermaid for the time being.
Mermaid is a low-cost bike that we bought for my Anna about 5 years ago, by mail order from Winstanley Bikes - with a cheaply-made steel frame, mudguards and rear rack included. We added a Basil basket (the Boston XL model) and a decent side stand (both from Practical Cycles), along with a pair of Bike Bins hard-sided panniers - indeed the first picture of that write up shows Mermaid with the basket, panniers, and sidestand (and the seat right down, as Anna was riding Mermaid at that time)
Mermaid was used by Anna for shopping and for the school run (my daughter either cycled or scootered almost all the time) for about three years, by which time a multitude of small faults had built up, and some time and money would have to spent on it.
For a busy chap like me, time is my limiting factor, so we bought Anna another cheap bike (from Argos - the still available Challenge Meander), which Anna still rides - we moved the front basket and the sidestand to the Meander, as well as the pair of small, flat, metal pedals Anna bought after the originals broke on Mermaid (Mermaid is currently kitted out with the set that came with Meander). Meander's seat was also rubbish (call that a "Ladies" seat? yeah, right!), so the perfectly acceptable (and shorter-nosed!) seat from Mermaid went to Meander. More about Meander's build up here.
Mermaid then went into the back of the garage, for "development", while Anna rode the Meander, and I, of course, was still riding my Cinzia.
After the structural failure of my Cinzia, after borrowing Anna's Meander a few times, I quickly fixed up Mermaid to a rideable condition (just as a short term fill-in - any bike is better than no bike!), and rode!

The name "Mermaid" is accidental, but I am growing fond of it.
A certain gentlemen names all his bikes, and made fun of him for doing it, and I said he had a naming fixation, and he said I have an anti-naming fixation, so I named my bike to demonstrate otherwise.
I chose the name "Mermaid", because it is "Mermaid" model made for Universal Bikes. As you can see from the pictures, it has "Mermaid" printed on it in large writing.
I have never named a bike before, and when I told my family, our daughter said (incredulously): "You're bike has a NAME?"
But, hey, it is easier to call the bike "Mermaid" than to keep saying "the spare bike" or "Anna's old bike".
After a few adventures together, I am starting to like Mermaid :-)

Mermaid at St Osyth's well, in Bierton.
This is the northern end of one of Aylesbury's cycle routes.
The front rack on Mermaid is a heavy duty one from Steco (in Holland)
And is rather stronger than is needed - I have a "cheapie" front basket
permanently bolted to it.

Mermaid gets "down and dirty" after the
storms. A tree blocking the path meant I had
to lift Mermaid over!
Mermaid near Halton, Bucks, about to turn up the hill that
leads into the woods. It is a 6% climb over 2km, with the
steepest bit being a 10% gradient. The ride up from
Aylesbury and on up the hill counts as a "Category 3"
hill on all the major fitness apps (Strava, MapMyRide etc.)

Mermaid in action
Mermaid is currently fitted with a Marathon Winter tyre.
Here it is compares to a Marathon Plus tyre.
Mermaid lost two front studs early on, but the rest seem to be OK.
Shopping at Waitrose with Mermaid and my wife's
current bike, Meander.
I fitted nice Deore M590 brakes
front and rear to Mermaid.
Strong and silent - great!
Our "cheapy" panniers struggling under the load of our
"goodies" from Waitrose. Only about 4 kg in each.
They did the job, however!
I brole both of Mermaid's cranks

And used short, 152mm, cranks from a "kiddie" bike until my new crankset arrived.

The summer of 2014 saw a major rebuild, with Mermaid now sporting "Roadster" bars with cork grips, Sram shifters,
and a 48/38/28 crankset driving an 8-speed 11-32 gearset, now mounted on a "freehub" wheel. Mermaid's original 6-speed,
14-28 "freewheel" gearset (with a tooth missing from 5th gear) has been consigned to the spares box. Fitted a front derailleur, too, so no more stopping and moving the chain with my hands! Tyres are now Marathon Plus, in a 622-35 size.

Mermaid hauling shopping in the Summer of 2014

Mermaid back in snow tyres, Feb 2015

A well-earned breather on a 50km ride
(still on snow tyres) in the Chilterns in Feb 2015
Mermaid and I setting off for the local Tour de Vale 100km
cycle event.
Who is that at the back on the wrong sort of bike?
Me and Mermaid mix it with the racers on the 100km Tour de Vale 2015 route
(pic from the official organiser's website!)

About 2/3rds of the way through the 100km route.
Every time there was a hill or a rest area, Mermaid
and I passed some folks. I had all my water and food
in Mermaid's (removable) front basket, so I just rode
the 100km route "straight", with no stops.
Passed quite a few of those fancy "roadie" bikes in the process!
Mermaid's finest hour.
100 km in 5 hrs 22 mins and 55 seconds
(we had "timer chips" in our event numbers)
Not too bad for a slightly overweight man of 50
on a cheap bike!

Two weeks later, and Mermaid and I are in the 2015 BHF London to Brighton Bike Ride

A wider mix of bikes in this event
- not just "roadies" and me!

Yep, Mermaid and I made it up the Beacon non-stop.
In fact we didn't stop at all, because I had all my supplies in
Mermiad's basket again, with tools and spares in a rear pannier.

Mermaid on the sea front at Brighton.

Back to Clapham by truck for Mermaid, and by coach for me.
then the 6 mile (10km) cycle back to the car.
Mermaid is shown in the car with the rear seats folded,
just before we leave London to go home.
Another event number, another finisher's medal.
and Mermaid's third "Century" of 2015 is done and dusted.

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