Tweed Rides—World-wide Bicycle Excitement.
We just had the pleasure of riding in the latest, greatest Tweed Ride ever. Organized by C.I.C.L.E. in the Los Angeles area, 300 people dressed in old-time garb rode together on bikes of every description for a day of leisure and fun. The variety of bikes ranged from vintage masterpieces to modern commuter machines. These rides are more about joy and camaraderie, than the clothes or the bicycles. If you get the chance to do one, don’t miss it.
Here in San Diego we celebrated our 5th annual Tweed Ride last month. With a group of 100-125 for each ride, they bring together people of every walk of life, age group and gender. Smiles and bells dominate the ride in a way you need to experience for the full effect. Each Tweed Ride we have taken is always in a scenic and historic area, with mostly flat terrain and designed for riders of all skill levels. That is just part of what makes them so great.
Each event has a different feel but the theme is the same. Dressing up in the way people did before the bicycle and horse and buggy were displaced as everyday transportation for the masses is part of the thrill. A few visits to second-hand stores will get you decked out with the proper attire. It won’t take long before you feel like an English gent or dame ready to ride into the past.
My wife took some old, practically free slacks and sewed them into a awesome pair of knickers for me. A barely worn sweater and coat match some classic dress shoes I got for a song (not really as I can barely hold a tune). Some really long argyle socks came off the (woman’s) rack at a outlet store. And a flat, English style tweed cap tops off my kit (a term I rarely use meaning a cycling outfit).
Barbara has several outfits to mix and match for a different look for each Tweed Ride we do. She wears a felt flower that a friend made and handed out to all the female riders at an event way back. She made (faux) pearl necklaces to hand out in the same manner, and wears hers every time we dress for a Tweed Ride. With a couple vintage hats to chose from in her closet, she is always decked out perfectly when we get out our old English 3-speeds to join in.
When we did our first Tweed Ride we were on our vintage Schwinn college bikes, mine a late 60’s Collegiate and hers a early 80’s World Tourist. I knew from that first day we needed something older and cooler. With the help of Craig’s List I got my 1958 Raynal from the original owner. In great shape but with a patina that matches its age, I knew I was on the right track. Later in the year I found a 1962 Meteor with a low frame, also in very good condition. One more part of the puzzle came together.
We were lucky to find one of Barbara’s workmates was selling two English saddlebags she never used. At every Tweed Ride they are noticed and admired, occasionally I mention how we got them at a tenth of their worth new. That, and one has been out of production for years, they make perfect additions to the bikes. A couple 2 dollar wicker baskets mount to the handlebars. One day I got some wooden tennis rackets and used leather strapping and shoelaces to bind them to the front forks. Wimbledon anyone?
We have even taken the bikes out and donned our Tweed outfits for other events and Christmas parades. It makes quite the spectacle to see the both of us dressed in such a manner riding these classy old bikes (at least that’s what we’ve been told.) One day we slipped into a nice Italian restaurant for a meal during a ride. So many people stopped to talk to us and admired our interest in the days of old. I don’t normally go out of my way to be noticed, but the looks when you are dressed in tweed can be fun.
Our ride this month in LA (Highland Park) had three main stops. Named the ’Tweed, Moxie and Moustaches Ride: The Historic Arroyo Seco’, we rode on a quiet Sunday morning and afternoon. The stops were at historic sites and each one was fun to visit. After the ride most everyone crowded into a quaint bar / restaurant for food and drinks and laughter. An awesome New Belgium custom cruiser bike was awarded to a happy raffle winner. What a great day of riding, friendship and fun. It was their 3rd annual Tweed Ride. We did last year’s too.
Here in San Diego we have been enjoying a couple special treats the last two years. A wonderful rag-time pianist has been playing tunes at the meet and finish place of the rides. A vintage fire truck that has been converted to a rolling party truck also attends. The back is now a wood-fired pizza oven and where the water valves on the side resides is also a tapper for some frothy brews. Don’t think the tweed riders miss the cool factor there.
Each of our San Diego Tweed Rides has been in a different part of the town. This one included a stop at our new, much anticipated central library. Most of the time some of the biggest fun is before and after the ride when everyone gets to meet and check out the bikes and outfits. I have videos of many of the rides we have done. Just look in the ’Local rides & Out of town rides’ section on my You-Tube channel. In fact my first video posted there was from our 3rd annual San Diego Tweed Ride. You will find that link below and it will be easy to locate the others.
These Tweed Rides are in many countries and cities. A quick Google search will show you where. I see no reason you and friends can’t start one in your town. Getting people together for these just makes sense in today’s world. They are normally done once a year to help make them that much more special. I fully recommend you make it happen or search one out near you. Many leave behind the gas-guzzlers and use trains, trolleys and other public transportation to add to the old time feel.
Follow my Facebook page to see when the next one here is coming. (link below).
Get your tweed on, Turbo Bob.
“ Cyclers see considerable more of this beautiful world than any other class of citizens. A good bicycle, well applied, will cure most ills this flesh is heir to.”—Dr, K. K. Doty
My first video posted was this one from our 3rd annual San Diego Tweed Ride. There are many more, just look in the ‘Local bike rides and Out of town bike rides’ section on my channel.
I try to post all the local bike rides on my Facebook page. You will see the San Diego and LA Tweed Ride notifications there. Punch in a ‘like’ for all the info.