While I was in the UK last year, I hung out with Timmy at nearby Rowan Frameworks, who told me about Adeline O’Moreau, who shares his workspace and is making frames under her own banner of Mercredi Bikes.
At this stage, Adeline is completely and utterly and utterly focused on cyclocross racing, and that is specifically what she has been creating frames for. She just emailed me with a background to her story and it’s an inspiring read, to say the least.
Adeline and Timmy photographed this bike, the first she made, in the forest next to their Woodchurch workshop. She’s built a few since then, but it’ll probably make for a better story if she tells it:
It’s the first frame I ever made, it was only 9 months ago. At the time, I had just quit my creative job in the advertising industry, I thought there had to be more to life than late nights in the office working on pitches.
I had signed up for a course at The Bicycle Academy because I wanted to make things again. Little did I know where I was going to be, because of that, a few months later! There wasn’t a plan. But sometimes it’s great to just go where life takes you.
I had been racing cross on small off the shelf bikes. I bloody love CX! But those bikes were just never right. When you turn up to the races, just off the train, with your one bike, about to battle for an hour against some racers with two, sometimes 3 bikes, what can you do?
You got toe overlap, mud clogs everything, the front triangle is so small you just can’t shoulder right, etc. So I wanted to make a bike for myself that would solve those issues.
I didn’t want to make a piece of art, I wanted to build a highly functional bicycle, that would be perfect for my kind of performance. Grass root CX, with no pit team to rely on. Just team mates and other strong-ass determined women to chase or be chased by and sometimes a couple of friends screaming at me from the side.
Every decision we made was informed by how the bike was going to perform. If it’s not going to improve the riding, don’t do it. That’s how I ended up with this race machine. 1×11 for clearance and one less thing to break. Thru axle front and rear. Immense cassette for the longer hills.
Mechanical discs — easy to look after by myself in my small London home. Integrated headset to leave enough room to braze that small bicycle. And more important than all of that: no filed fillets. When I’m in the red from the gun, I’ll never notice whether the joints are smooth or not. The people racing me won’t either.
And you know, it was made by hand, by an obsessive bike rider, with only racing in mind, so why hide it?
I got so excited with the improved riding that I decided to push that thinking and process a bit further. I went back to The Bicycle Academy, with a little bit of help from Shand and BA. This time, I was going to make a batch. How much more efficient can I be, if I repeat the actions 3-4 times?
One of the bikes was for my team mate Clare. We then went on to test them in what people call the hardest cyclocross race in the UK: 3 Peaks CX. It’s a bit of an institution around here — I wrote about the event on the Hope Tech Women site if you want to know more.
But it went to comfort me in that thinking: make it and race it. Don’t waste time sweating over details. If it’s not going to make the rider go out on the bike more, forget about it. It should end up scratched and dented, that’s awesome.
It’ll mean I – or my customers – rode them hard. It might end up being built up from hacked 1×11 Shimano 105, so be it. It doesn’t need to be posh.
There are tons of women racers and riders out there, stuck on off-the-shelf bikes that don’t fit, who’d never consider buying a bespoke bike because they think it’s a piece of art, rather than a tool for a job. But that’s what I want Mercredi to be: no nonsense bicycles for all. The perfect tool for a job. The right weapon for our grass-root battles.
You don’t win races with filed fillets. You win races by picking the right lines, moving your body around in the best way, by digging deeper than you ever dug. And you can make this easier to do by doing it on the right bike.
That being said, I’ve got to improve my winning ratio. But this season on this bike has been pretty incredible. From the 3 Peaks to Belgium, big adventures and local CX leagues, that bike has seen me through every sort of terrain. It’s been pretty awesome.
There’s no doubt about it: Adeline’s a tenacious rider — and writer. And with a refreshing attitude like hers, there’s obviously going to be some interesting work emanating from the countryside in Kent.