Thursday, 5 May 2011

A Stylish, Polite Bike Ride - The Tweed Run

I remember seeing the write-ups on the Tweed Run last year and was quite impressed at the idea of riding around London looking all dapper.

It's true that in recent times people in London, as well as in other cities have embraced "urban chic" culture, and folks try to look a bit fashionable as they zip around the traffic in the City and the West End.

Dressing up to the nines in clothing that is not far off your Sunday best, and in tweeds or plus fours is quite something else.
Entries for the event opened on 27th February and closed 7 minutes later! Fortunately I managed to get a place and make the start at St Paul's Cathedral.

The place was awash with folks in all shades, textures and styles of tweed. As the event also incorporated a moustache competition men (and a few women) had gone to the effort to fashion themselves a mo for the day.
It was a real meeting point for eccentric people on vintage bikes of all different fashions. There were old postman bikes, Dursely Pedersens, Penny Farthings,etc. Even one girl just got a Boris Bike, circa 2010 and decked it out in tweed for the event!

So at 12 noon after the class photo on the steps of St Pauls all 400 of us set off on our merry way through central London.

We must have been quite a sight to the tourists and the Saturday afternoon shoppers as we wound our way through the London streets.
From The City we rolled to Westminster via Blackfriars Bridge and back over Westminster Bridge. Then we passed along Birdcage Walk, Buckingham Palace, and up through the West End. Of course we couldn't pass through the area without showing our respect for the shirtmakers at Jermyn Street and the tailors at Savile Row, purveyors of exquisitely fashioned suits and all other things gentlemanly.

Onwards we twiddled, chatting and laughing amongst ourselves in our 400-strong peloton, bidding "good day" to the traffic, the men doffing their caps at the other motorists and taxi drivers.

Some folks had managed to tack gramaphones and other musical appliances onto their bikes so we were even entertained to the sounds of 20s jazz and classical music.

It was all so very civilised, with a feed station at Lincolns Inn fields, where cucumber sandwiches and tea was served, then at the end of the ride in Bethnal Green, mini Gin and Tonics were offered - a spiffing end to the ride!
It's funny how the peloton of the Tweed Run was no smaller, probably even bigger than that of the monthly Critical Mass rides that take place in London. However, because we were dressed in very smart clothes and looking terribly British, the reception we got from the public, motorists, and even taxi drivers was much more positive. Permission to organise this ride had been granted by the authorities, though it was the responsibility of the organisers to sort out the escorting of the peloton and controlling the traffic at junctions. This was carried out with the utmost precision and we felt very safe within the group.

Organiser, Ted Young-Ing who cycles regularly says when he cycles in tweeds he definitely feels a more positive vibe from other road users than when he's in lycra or urban clothing.
So it seems that wearing tweeds when cycling is the way forward - although as we leave behind the warmest April on record and approach summer it might not be the ideal fabric!

In any case, I tip my hat to the excellently turned out ladies and gentleman who helped to make this a splendid day out on the Tweed Run.
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