When we heard about this ride, Barbara and I started to get excited. Knowing we just had to be part of the fun, the local thrift stores opened their doors to help us find the right outfits. We already had some cool old Schwinns to ride, but being dressed to match the day was important. We were in luck.
The idea of the ride is to transport yourself into the days of cycling in the 1800’s. With tweed, houndstooth, gabardine, and the such. Bowties, caps, and flowery hats were asked for and practically required. I liked to think of it as a foray into the days of Sherlock Holmes. Knickers and skirts, flannel and argyle were just some of the choices we had when shopping. After just a few stops, our outfits were complete. The day of the big ride drew near.
The morning of the get-together, I emptied a couple of wicker baskets we use for DVD storage, and loaded them into the station wagon with the bikes. I brought some tiestraps to secure them to the rear racks when we arrived. With the camera, some bottles of water, and snacks, we were off to join the group for this ride into the past. Showing up early, we could see by the attire of the people already there, we were dressed just right.
I am not sure if this ride was organized by the San Diego Urban Bike and Social Club, the San Diego Bike Union, or one of the other local groups. I think it was a combination of all of them that made it happen. We met at Velo Cult, a bike shop I have referred to before. Some of the riders wore their everyday clothes, and some even wore lycra, but everyone else were rocking the tweed. What a sight, as the group started to come together with old fashion style and bikes of days past.
There were a lot of people checking each other out to see the cool outfits and bikes. We saw many people we have ridden with before, and met some people new to us. The crowd continued to get larger as tea was sipped, and goodies were nibbled on. The laughter was growing as a local magazine photographer asked the costumed riders to pose for his camera. He wasn’t the only one snapping shots, as many had brought their cameras to record the days events. I set my camera on black and white, and sepia for many of the pictures I took.
As we started to hit the streets, I could see there were quite a lot of bikers going along. I noticed that Sky, Velo Cult’s owner, was making a count as we pedaled by him. Later in the ride, he confirmed to me that 126 people were in the pack. And this number increased, as many bikers we came across joined the ride. Onlookers cheered, clapped, waved, and honked as we passed them by. Our own bells and horns got a workout in response to their enthusiasm. And the smiles were contagious.
The group got separated many times as the traffic and signals threw off our timing. But each time, we waited up, so everyone could stay together. We stopped at a few parks to regroup and rack up some digital images of our fun day. There were a few mechanical problems and even one flat tire. That just made things seem more like the time machine it was. Of course, everyone pitched in to solve the minor problems with a smile and a nod. Sharing refreshments was the norm too.
We rode to the far end of the flat lands. We rode over the freeway on the bike and pedestrian bridge. We rode to Balboa Park and circled the big fountain many times. We stopped for conversations and cold drinks. There was no time schedule, just the desire of camaraderie and enjoying the freedom of our bikes. A joyous day was all we wanted. And it was delivered many times over.
The massive amounts of enjoyment were seen on so many people’s faces. Not just us, but the locals and visitors that witnessed this ride. I notice that these tweed rides are becoming more popular in many cities. And not just in our country. This is the kind of fun ride you can help plan in your own community. No rules, fees, or memberships, just cool people sharing a common theme. I fully suggest talking up just such an event with your friends and neighbors.
Barbara and I will be even more ready for next year’s tweed ride. She is going to convert my pants to knickers. I found a great flannel hat that is better than the one I wore for this ride. And spurred on by the excitement, I purchased some old English 3-speed bikes that I will fix-up and have ready to ride on the big day. We can hardly wait. We have convinced some of our friends that didn’t go, that this is too much fun to miss next time.
If it sounds like fun to you, then join us for the 3rd annual tweed ride later this year. You can join the San Diego Urban Bike and Social Club on the Meet-up page. You can organize your own tweed ride where you live. You can just dress-up in the proper attire on your next solo ride. Have some fun with it and enjoy a bike ride into the past. Sounds like a good time, doesn’t it? See you out there, Turbo Bob.
“I was not yet sixteen when I understood a great deal, from having ridden bicycles for so long, about style, speed, grace, purpose, value, form, integrity, health, humor, music, breathing, and finally and perhaps best of all the relationship between the beginning and the end.”—William Saroyan, The Bicycle Rider in Beverly Hills.
You can see a video of the 3rd annual San Diego Tweed Ride on my new YouTube channel
Find Velo Cult on Facebook or http://www.velocult.com
Note—Velo Cult has recently moved to Portland, OR
Need a folding bike or an E-bike? http://www.nycewheels.com