Bits and pieces

A few weeks ago I met up with an fellow tweedian. We decided to celebrate the first rays of sunshine over a beer while sitting outside at an local pub. During the conversations we talked about tweed clothes, the optimal “carry-along-when-riding-a-bicycle” bag and of course bicycles. We both have been collecting parts for several years, building and repairing bicycles and so on. During the years we also been trading and giving all sorts of bicycle parts to each other in such extent that we no longer have any clue at all on whose bicycle parts belongs to whom.

A beer in the sunshine with the Crescent 1927 leaning in the background

During the discussion, and between the beers, we decided to take a look at his collection. We talked about the our vision for the ideal bicycle set up. Simply to have one good daily ride, one genuine vintage bicycle for sunny days and one bicycle just for fun, with all bells and whistles possible.

But with many projects going on at the same time, bits and pieces, nuts and bolts that did not belong or even fitted together was piling up. That is one disadvantage with vintage bicycles, they might be rusty and worn, more likely really rusty and worn, and in a need of replacement parts. The odd thing with vintage stuff is that one bicycle brands parts does not fit with a different parts brand. The thread on screws, diameter on nuts, length of axles, width of washers or parts not simply fitting at all just seems to pile up in boxes, on shelf’s and in drawers.

Did you know that it is not a matter of “only change a wheel nut”? You need to know the diameter of the axle, the climb of threads and so on. Nuts for one brand of hubs, does not fit a different brand. Then we have the issue with front or rear hubs. In the end, all measurements and all different versions can make a grown man cry in frustration.

As we were later standing in his shop, I got a sudden urge for building a bicycle again. I had some parts in my basement that were laying in boxes and would rather be suitable for a bicycle build. He asked if I wanted to use some of his parts for my build. It was settled, yet again parts were traded and swapped. A wheel set here, a frame there, some nuts and bolts in a box there. I am very aware that I said “no more projects” last time. But a man can perhaps change his mind sometimes? After all, we are only humans.

After taking a trolley with heavy parts and carrying a backpack filled with smaller parts, I headed on my way back to the trusty old basement. While walking I planed and decided what kind of build I was going to make. A all black bicycle in a 1930’s racing style. All parts were there, they only needed to be mounted and I was the man for the job.

A new project, I even got a rear mud guard this time. Perhaps I will continue in the future to make the project to a roadster

As a foundation of the build I used a old Uppsala made frame, made by Nymans for the brand Hermes in the 1930’s. Long ago I bought the frame in a shop in central Stockholm. They had the frame laying on some water pipes up in the ceiling covered with dust, it wasn’t cheep, but I liked the black and gold look of the frame.

Along with a Fauber style crank with a chain sprocket made by Fram, also in Uppsala in the same era, that I was going to use. Further on I had old handlebars in a box that I do not remember where I got them from. I picked out one handlebar that looked to fit the style of the build.

The two wheels is newly build but with vintage Fichtel & Sachs Torpedo hubs, I found rims at velo-classic shop they also helped me with building and truing the wheels. It is always nice to have a professional to do the delicate work. I have never mastered the skill of truing spokes and wheels.

In the backpack together wit other parts that I got from my fellow tweedian, there were a pair of German made AVA handlebar grips that he had bought from velo-classic. What a coincidence.

One of many boxes with used, worn and old parts, dust covers, bearing mounts locking rings, locks and so on
Adjustment of crank and bearings, it fits! Amazing, the parts actually fits

Now came the fun work of putting all parts together to create a bicycle. After trying about 10 different crank case parts, bearings, washers, bearing bowls and locking nuts that I had in a box, dry fitting, trying, measuring and replacing parts back and fourth, I found the parts that was needed. I greased up the newly cleaned bearings and mounted it together. No grinding, scraping, whistling or buzzing sounds when turning the cranks. I guess it is a match.

Then we have the adventure of the front fork. I tried a bunch of forks that I had, no one fitted the bill. To long, to short, to wide, no narrow, wrong length of the threads, to short to long, not enough. Furthest down in the heap of frame parts and forks, I found one that fitted fairly well, but in the wrong colour. Close, but no cigar so speak. I can always repaint it later on, but it is missing the typical ornament for Hermes, as the frame have.

But it works for the project and that is the main reason. There are some minor play in the fork bearings. But what to expect from rusty and worn parts that are by now almost 90 years old?

The wheels on the other hand, fitted perfect without any problems at all. A set of old pedals were fitted to the cranks. On a shelf I had an old “safety pin” saddle, after fitting it with a modern Brooks seat post mount, the saddle was in place. The handlebars along with the AVA grips were turned upside down for a more classic sporty look and a chain that was just a bit to long were fitted, and there we have it.

A true bicycle project made of leftover spare parts. It was really fun to build the bicycle, I am fully aware that others do the same all the time. But this one was special for me, to finally be able to use all sorts of different parts, some of them I have had laying around for so long. With help from my fellow tweedian, it all became a bicycle in the end.

Not the final look, but close to the vision I had. The stand is not permanent, I am using while mounting parts on the frame
Front view
Drive train, double rear cogs. After all, it is a racer

I have some mudguards in black and gold, perhaps I should mount them along with a chain guard to create a more roadster style of bicycle. Complete with a headlight… or perhaps make a headlight out of an old fermented herring can.. or change the handlebars to drop down bars for a really sporty look… or…

There are always new ideas, always room for improvement and adjustments. I do not dare to say this is the last project I will build because I have said it several times in the past. It has gone so far, that not even I believe my own words any more.

Put on the old tweed jacket, stuff your trouser legs in the socks and jump on the saddle for a ride. Spring is here, let us all enjoy the weather after a long grey winter.

Happy tweed everyone!

Tweed Ride Berlin 2021

Last year, I made plans to visit Berlin. Joining Berlin Tweed Ride 2020, riding along with my bicycle, having an currywürst at the railway station at Zoologische garten or why not at Konnopke’s Imbiss over at Prenzlauer Berg later on. Ending the day with a chilled Berliner Kindl beer by the river Spree at Schiffbauerdamm, one of my favourite places, while overlooking the canal and the ferries bobbing along. But due to the restrictions and regulations following the pandemic that just had started back then, Tweed Ride Berlin was cancelled.

Before the event last year, the organizers came up with the lovely plan of having us tweedians make our own tweed rides, posting photos on social media while using the hashtag #solotweedride. That was a really great idea, creating a good reason to dress up and be active in a interactive event, by yourself or with others in small groups. Of course following local regulations, but still having fun.

Back then we all were hoping for a real tweed ride as for this year 2021. But as it turned out, the pandemic still lingers around us and the regulations have not been lifted and travelling is more or less impossible. The organizers of Berlin Tweed Ride decided to make this years event a #SoloTweedRide as well as last year. Transforming Berlin Tweed Ride to an interactive event again was a sad, but understandable and necessary step to make. By now we have now lived with the pandemic for a year, adjusting to it in all sorts of odd ways, so there were no problem making our own tweed rides.

Parts of Enskede Tweed Society on our way…
…for Berlin Tweed Ride 2021

Instead of visiting Berlin, me and a fellow tweedian decided to take a ride in Stockholm. But as it turned out, there were no possibility for us to ride on the set date of 17th April. I wrote an message to Kelly, one of the Berlin Tweed Ride organizers a week before the event and asked if it were possible for us to make the ride a few days earlier instead. Kelly replied quickly and said it was just fine to make the ride a few days earlier and wished us a happy ride. That was very kind and in a true tweed spirit, after all the main goal is to have fun!

We met up on the morning of our ride. Bicycles bags packed with food and drinks, polished shoes and brushed tweeds. But the first item of the day, was a minor bicycle adjustment. A bicycle stand was broken and had lost its function and needed urgent repairs. I guess after about 80 years of usage, things might just need replacing sometimes. A new, old, bicycle stand was fitted and the problems was solved rather swiftly.

After the repair we continued on our ride along the empty streets of Stockholm. The sun was shining, but an head wind straight from the north pole made it slightly chilly. Not the kind of spring weather we hoped for, but with a good tweed jacket it was not to bad. Onwards!

The cholera cemetery from 1809
Heading up to the top of the hill, the yellow building is the old inn that opened in 1762

On our ride, we made some stops to look at locally interesting places. For example we stopped by Skansbacken and Skansberg, located just south of Stockholm city. This is a place with lots of history from the old Stockholm, ranging from buildings that are still standing to the old cholera cemetery and the Göta landsväg, the really old road I mentioned here.

The area is now jam-packed between roads, a highway, subway and tram lines and all sorts of resent years developments. But back in 1762 it was a different story. That was when the Enskede mansion, who owned almost all the land south of Stockholm, got permission to manage an inn up on the hill beside the old road. It was one of the last places for a drink before heading out on the countryside and south of Sweden.

After a while the inn got a bad reputation and was finally closed in 1838. Later on a butchery was located in the buildings, after that a miller had his residence there and nowadays it is the residence for a motorcycle club. While we were standing there, we realized that the central location and the historical providence would make it a sublime spot for a bicycle club. Imagen having a tweed bicycle club and work shop there? One can only dream.

The modern city is right beside the old world

Our ride continued down the hill and went along the Hammarby canal. The old harbour offers lovely surroundings for bicycles and pedestrians since its renovation a few years back. While we were riding along the canal we noticed many pedestrians and other bicyclists looked at us, men silently nodding approving, ladies waving happily and children waving with both hands. Despite the chilly wind, it was spring in the air. People are happier when the sun starts to defrost us all up here in the cold north, a bit of sun goes a long way. Perhaps the sight of vintage bicycles and well dressed tweedians are a sure sign of spring?

Hammarby canal
Along the sea side
Photo opportunity with Stockholm in the background

Later on we reached our destination, it was time for lunch. Since it was Tweed Ride Berlin, the menu was really easy. If we can not have currywürst in Berlin, then we have to make it ourself, complete with German beer and a bread roll on the side. At the end of the day we had been riding our vintage 1940’s bicycles for about 20 kilometres, so some hot food and tasty beer was really nice. It was a great day, despite the north pole head wind. Soon it will be warmer and there will be sandwiches for the picnic instead of hot food.

Barbecue in style
Home made currywürst sauce, beer and a bread roll. A nice ending of a great day

Fingers crossed that we could meet in Berlin next year for a fun and happy tweed event. After all, Berlin is a city with something for everyone to experience and I am really looking forward to explore Berlin while riding a bicycle. Or as a fellow tweedian once said, “it is from the handlebars of a bicycle, you really experience a city”.

Tschüß, bis zum nächsten mal.

Cavaturen 2021

The date and location was set for Cavaturen, or Cava ride. We were to meet on April 10th at noon in a park in Östberga just south of Stockholm.

We met up for a small ride just to celebrate the first week of spring, sunny days and around +10 degrees Celsius, spring flowers were visible here and there, birds were chirping. A very nice day in the spring indeed. It was time for the first tweed event with other tweedians for the year.

The sun was shining when we met up for the first Cava ride
Sparkling wine is served
Along the walkways of the former Valla mansions land

We met at the park and were greeted with a glass of cava, a sparkling wine made in Spain, and some light snacks. It was really great to meet each other again,. After all, the pandemic have really put everything to a grinding halt when it comes to events of any sort, well technically not all sorts. Solo tweed rides, is an adaption of the situation. But that is not the same as riding in large groups along with others.

Soon, moore twedians joined up and finally we were 9 brave cyclist who gallantly went on our way on our old bicycles, of course while chiming our bicycle bells as a rather pleasant war cry.

We headed along a nice route with many interesting facts about the local area, everything from the history about the experimental 1950´s buildings in the area to actually be riding along a main road that went to and from Stockholm from south of Sweden back in the really old times.

Riding in the first day of spring

The road was and still is called Göta landsväg (Göta highway) and is dated all the way back to 1250, but are more known in its “modern” shape from 1494. The road was up to 1670 the only main road between the south of Sweden to Stockholm. But have since those days been replaced by more modern roads during the expansions and reconstructions of the city. Some of the original road exists today, they are small paths and perfect for bicycle rides such as this.

After a while we stopped by “Park”, that is a community House in Älvsjö from 1928 and had our photo taken on the steps. After the photo shoot we continued on our route that led us to the lovely confectionery in old Östberga, an area built in late 1950’s.

The group photo outside Park, the community House in Älvsjö
Time for refreshments

Along with the coffee we were treated with a fun quiz with questions about the ride we just made and other trivia. In the end tour yours truly gave the correct answerer to the final question, we had been riding for about 10 kilometres, or 10,1 to be specific. That made me the first price winner of a lovely tin box, filled with bread made in Leksand in Dalarna. It was very tasty and delicious!

Our parked bicycles outside the café, impressive line up with vintage bicycles from 1930, 40 and 50’s.

It was all made in good mood and just for fun. But I knew that my knowledge of odd bits and things might come in handy one day! After the quiz, we continued with our coffee and talked about everything for a while before it was time to be heading on our way home.

Once again, thank you for a lovely event and all the nice guiding around the area, lots of local history and interesting facts! By the way, did you know that the Swedish bands Europe and Kent recorded some of their music in the community House in Älvsjö?

It was really nice to meet the tweedians again, we all decided to meet up again when it is summer, then we will have a proper picnic. Fingers crossed for a nice summer 2021.


Tweed Ride Portland 2021

4th of April 2021 was the date set for Tweed Ride Portland in Oregon USA, or as it was called this year, Tweed In Place 2021. As many other events during last and this year. The organizers at Portland Tweed Ride decided to cancel the public event and, perhaps inspired by other organizers and tweed events, decided to make it an internet based event in instead.

By doing an internet event, the organizers made it possible for people around the world to join the event, just as Tweed Ride Berlin did last year. After reading about their decision I decided to join the event here in Sweden, half across the world on the same day, doing the same thing that would be fun!

1927 Crescent with packed backpack ready for a new adventure
Heading along the bicycle paths

I found out about Tweed Ride Portland, Oregon quite some time ago via their blog Tweed PDX. But attending their event would be a rather difficult task for me, travelling half way around the world with my bicycle in a bag was not an option since I almost did not made it to Helsinki with the bicycle in a bag, and that is far more closer to Sweden than Portland. Since Tweed Ride Portland was an virtual event, I joined up right away and planned my event.

Early in the morning of the day of the ride I packed a small traditional picnic, complete with hot water for making tea, sugar-cubes in an old birch bark box, cucumber sandwiches and some tomatoes and an egg, after all it was Easter. I packed it all carefully in my old backpack and collected my bicycle from the basement.

Since it was a sunny, dry and nice day outside. I decided to use for the weather very suitable “no nonsense, less is more” 1927 black Crescent racer without mudguards and no extra parts at all, bicycle for the ride. After pumping up the tires pressure just a tad I was on my way.

Arriving at lake Flaten
Time for a cup of tea

I decided to take a trip to lake Flaten, a famous bathing lake south of Stockholm. The ride went smooth, along a mix of newly pawed bicycle lanes and narrow gravel roads in small colonial cottage areas. One of the advantages when riding in the morning is that only few commuters are up and about. No need for crowding the bicycle lanes or behaving like an stage of Tour de France. Just a moderate paced ride, enjoying the scenery and the fresh air of the morning. When arriving at the lake I found a suitable table, parked my bicycle and set up my picnic with the lake as view. Tasty and refreshing, a cup of tea and a breeze from the forest and lake made the tea taste really good.

After the picnic I decided to visit the Oak headland nearby, that is an old area with many really old oak trees and the place for an former old mansion that dated back to about 1750´s. Sadly the mansion burned down in the 1950’s, but the mail road and some traces are still visible as remembrance of the olden days.

It was a great day in every way and very fun to be a part of something that was going on in Portland, not at the same time, but on the same day.

Tea, cucumber sandwiches, an egg and tomatoes with a lovely view over the lake
Oak headland

Since everything today is more or less based on internet and the extended usage of different social media and tweed events are no exception to that. So why not use internet as a foundation for using the best parts of two things? Mix the analogue bicycle ride, with the interactive ways of social media to create an community and a feeling of togetherness reaching across the world. That is something that is much needed after all sadness in the world today and after over a year with the pandemic.

We need something that creates joy and happiness without boundaries. Why not join a virtual event all over the world along with Europe, America, Asia or why not even Oceania? I would really love to make a Solo Tweed Ride Fiji, that would be great fun.

Riding in the early morning sunshine

In the end, there will always a tweed event near you. Why not dress up a bit, take the old iron horse for a ride, stop somewhere along the way for a small, or large, picnic. Take photos during the day and share them online?

Have fun, get some air and exercise. Nothing wrong with that. After all, who knows, it might be healthy?

Cheers and happy tweed!

Why Tweed and English?

In the end of February, the first ray of sunshine reminded us that the spring, perhaps a bit hesitant at first, but most certain are coming. In this situation I did what any tweedian would do. I brought out the old tweed jacket from its winter hibernation in the closet, packed a small picnic basket with tea and sandwiches. I tied a woollen scarf around my neck and off I went on the rusty old Rex Duplex bicycle.

Out and about in the sunshine. While cruising around stumbling pedestrians that behaved like newly awaken sloths, whilst slightly confused, admiring the bright light in the sky and having no idea where they were going. After a long dark and cold winter, spring is in the air.

Still some snow on the ground, but quickly melting away in the sunshine

After about a 5 kilometres ride I felt that it was time to have some refreshments. While I was sitting there at the old picnic table in the park, with a steaming hot cup of tea, eating my sandwiches and the birds chirping franticly in the hedges. I was reminded of an question I got a while back – why do I keep rambling on about tweed and writing in English?
The answer is actually really simple.

Picnic in the sun, chirping birds in the background as music

Some time ago I wrote a post (why Harris Tweed) about my interest in tweed, how tweed was in a way a part of my life. As a teenager I was handed down my fathers great looking Harris Tweed coat from the 1960’s. The coat was really something special, both in quality and in style. Most certain different than what all other teenagers wore at that time. But I liked it and wore it as often as I could.

Then in school we had a teacher who wore a grey herringbone Harris Tweed jacket to our classes. I notice now that I never used his name in my post, no idea why. That is strange since his name goes a bit along the tweed jacket. He described how he went to London once and the customs asked for his name. Here in Sweden we pronounce our names in Swedish, but when talking English, the name also receives an “English treatment”. He told the story on how he just said “Mr Eccmaan” and realized how silly it sounded when he just could have said it as usual Mr Ekman.  We laughed and had good times in his classes, even back then I remember thinking that Mr Ekman’s jacket looked so distinguished and comfortable. So much so that I wanted one for myself.

A few years later I was handed down a old wool jacket from an old relative. It was a great jacket that I used until it dissolved into small pieces, truly well worn and loved. Many years I finally got around to buy myself a grey herringbone Harris Tweed jacket. It is the best jacket I had so far, sturdy, warm and reliable. Suits for any occasion from buying milk at the corner shop to attend tweed international events. Timeless, stylish and practical. Thank you Mr Ekman for the inspiration.

Grey herringbone Harris Tweed

Then we have the matter of my writing.

I have a good friend living just outside London. He was curious about what this “tweed-ride-bicycle-thingy” was that I was going on about all the time. He asked me to describe what we were doing at tweed events and what it means, in my opinion, to be a “tweedian”.

I tried to describ the general idea behind the events and what attracts me to join them. Dressed in tweed and riding rusty old bicycles, listening to jazz and all things in-between. What is the secret?

The first obstacle on my journey to be a amateur reporter and chronicler, was to simply write. My rather average knowledge in the English language quickly put my writing ambitions to a grinding halt. Since I had only studied English way back in elementary school as a kid, all knowledge of how to spell, using grammar and everything else became an real challenge for me.

Since the years in school I had been on vacation, ordering food and drinks in English, but never written longer text segments. My friend in London came with helpful insights on how to write along the way. He helped me, not only to simply write, he also gave me hints about the how to design the posts, how to add more text, more photos, how to use spaces, commas and so on. Not to only make the text readable, but more interesting by showing photos backing up the texts. After all – a photo says more than 1000 words.

Soon I started to write more elaborated about the tweed events, describing the events in more details, describing my bicycles with both text and photos so others could see the small details and read my story behind the events and bicycles. Trying to create a living story.

As the years went along. I got a better understanding of the process of writing, not to the fullest, far from it actually. Writing is as many other things in life, you will never get perfect in anything, only decent. But trying is half the victory. There is always room for improvement and I got many helpful and really great lessons along the way. I am very grateful for Mr Withers amazing patience and knowledge in writing.

Bicycles ready for summer and tweed events

To a more serious note. I read somewhere on a forum, that there were a person who did not want to participate in tweed events. Juts becasue the person had the impression of that all participants in events like that were longing back to a time when the sun never did set on the British empire. Where enslaved people and colonization was a normal practice, working classes were abused.

In my personal opinion after participating in over 32 tweed rides in 6 different countries. Looking at tweed events like that, is a matter of seeing things that simply are not there. In every society, club or social gathering you can find them there. People that do not understand, or even want to understand. I can safely say that politics, strange old ideas and horrible out dated visions are never discussed or practised on these events.

I would instead like to describe a general tweed event as an odd version of a P-G Woodhouse novel. We want to dress up, ride a fancy bicycle in a kind, loving world where it is always summer all year round. Posh people are a bit silly and daft, there is tea and cake near by. Whilst the most critical problem in the world would be, if there would be no ice to the gin and tonic drinks later on.

Tweed ride events are filled with people who like to, dress up, meet other tweedians, admire their clothes, their bicycles, their picnic setups and just have a good time and a hearty laugh. Far from the problems, routines and menace of everyday life.

Being a tweedian is a fun and therapeutic, almost, full time job. Mending, writing and planning all along with a cup of tea. 

Now, put on a tweed jacket. Pack a picnic hamper, bring along an old beaten up enamel cup and take a ride on a vintage bicycle. Enjoy the simple and relaxing way to get around and having fresh air at the same time. Stop for a moment and have a cup of tea, while just enjoying the moment.

Join a Bike in Tweed event and have a great time with other tweedians. Why not take part in silly games like hat throwing or guessing how many ice cubes there is in a glass of gin and tonic. We all need to have fun today, tomorrow is far away.

Ride safely and happy tweed fellow tweedians!