|The scene from outside the Derby rail station.|
Before heading over to the shop, Jane took me to the recently opened Derby Velodrome - an impressive, modern facility that houses not only a state-of-the-art indoor track, but also a fitness center, and a concert venue. While we were there, we got to see a couple members of the British Women's Team warming up on a tandem.
Our next stop was the Mercian workshop, which sits in an unassuming little garage-like building in an industrial park, about a mile away from the retail store.
Stepping inside is almost like traveling back in time. I doubt that the workshop looks much different today than it would have about 50 years ago when they first moved the framebuilding operations into this building. Inside, I got to meet two of the Mercian builders - John, and John. Senior builder, Tony, was on vacation.
|There's John, working on a Vincitore bottom bracket.|
|John shows me some of his work, explaining how the extra-long tangs are welded onto the shell, then filed seamlessly. That bottom bracket shell is a cool but dangerous-looking piece.|
The younger John showed me the brazing on a Mercian fork. The open hearth brazing method is something the company is well-known for, and Mercian is one of the few builders that still use it.
Next I got to see the paint shop, where Rob and Phil were working their magic.
|Phil masks off the head tube lugs on a Vincitore model.|
|Senior painter, Rob, prepares a contrasting seat-tube panel on a new touring frame. Rob's been at the shop for more than 40 years, so if you have a Mercian made since the 1970s, chances are, Rob painted it.|
|Phil adds some lug lining to finish off a new fork.|
|There's the color board, along with an old advertising sign from the '50s.|
|Some of Rob's work - he mixes most of the colors himself.|
|Seeing this set of boards, from a 2007 collaboration, I immediately spotted something familiar. Among the sketches and color samples were some photos of a bike that helped inspire Smith's design. That green and white frame shown was my own bike, built for me in 2003, and afterwards photographed for the company's website before shipping. That was very cool to see.|
|Love the red, black, and gold scheme on this King of Mercia touring frame.|
|Orange pearl and silver Vincitore track bike.|
|I spotted this Eroica-ready bike (well, maybe everything except the dual-pivot brakes) out on the showroom floor. The color combination was truly eye-catching.|
|These outline-only downtube decals were a cool touch I'd never seen before.|
|Some new frames ready for purchase.|
|Here's a limited edition path racer in the shop window. The bike uses vintage lugs from the '60s, and there are only enough of them for 10 classic-styled bikes.|
|I spotted this cool poster hanging in the shop, but forgot to ask about how old it is. They ought to look into getting them reproduced.|
|Grant, Jane, and me in front of the Mercian shop. (Thanks go to Carl for snapping the picture.)|