Bike in Tweed, 2015

Then the day came, it was time for the bicycle event again. Bike in Tweed in Stockholm 2015.

To get a good foundation and build up some energy for the long bicycle ride that was before us. We started with breakfast at an bakery in a sleepy suburb. There we meet up with our friends that also was entering the Bike in Tweed event with an old Rex tandem, just like the one we have. But in a blue color and some other minor diffenreces. At the bakery we parked our bicycle outside went inside for some lovely and fresh bread. While we were sitting there we noticed that the people walking by on the outside, watched, looked and smiled att our bicycles outside. It seems that old vintage bicycles makes people happy. After the breakfast we started our journey toward the centre of the city with the royal castle as goal. It must have been a strange sight, two old tandems after each other, with the riders dressed in tweed clothes just crousing down the streets.
In fact there was at some point people even smiling and cheering at us when we passed them on your journey in to the start of the tweed parade.

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Two Rex Duplex tandem bicycles from late 1940’s

At the starting point at Nytorget, we were among the first to arrive.
We parked out tandems beside each other and went to the register office and got our numberplate’s for identification. We got two one for each rider on the bicycle, but we were riding on only one bicycle. That usually makes the officials rather confused. Is it two riders or one bicycle? Is it the bicycle that should have the number, or is it the riders? But we put our both numbers in a rather fun way on our tandem. One number at the front of the bicycle and other at the rear, someone would be confused. But it worked out like a charm, no one did notice that, at least as we knew!
At the start when we all that registered us, we also received an bag with a map of the route, some commercials and a package of Scottish shortbread cookies from the sponsors. Inside there was also an voucher for an beer at the Nordic Museum at Djurgården at the finish. Another of the sponsors, Hendrick’s, said that they would treat us with a gin and tonic just before the finish.

As the time went by, different riders started to join the event. There were old vintage bicycles, new modern ones to. Many of the riders was dressed in fancy vintage dresses, old puffy plus 4 trousers, retro sharp suits, nice flamboyant hats and great really lovely shoes. One of the riders actually said, “we do not dress for fun, we dress in a nice way”. After all, this is not an event to act like a clown (as many bystanders might think). Many of the riders dress like this because they want to, we like the look of tweed and the old style of clothes. But sadly many of us never got a suitable moment to dress up in tweed suits and vintage clothes. Bike in Tweed are an perfect opportunely to embrace the well dressed and use good looking clothes and to use our old bicycles.

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Harris Tweed jacket

We all started to cue to have the official individual start photos taken, the start was getting closer by the minute. Then the word was out, it was time to start the parade (more a parade than a race). Then we all were off, all 160 of us! 160 bicycle bells where ringing in the morning. Tourists were confused by the noise, bystanders cheered. There were children on small bicycles, race riders with vintage road racers, really heavy tandems bicycles (I used to call my tandem “the Dreadnought” because it is so big and heavy).
All generations of both bicycles and their riders was represented in the parade. A young girls skirt needed some attention at the start, the advantage with an event like this, is that there always are people available with the know how to mend and fix vintage items. The girl had the skirt mended on location. In every way.

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Repairs on location

As we ride along the route, there was some stops along the way, just to let everyone to catch up so we all could ride in a tight formation along the streets. The ride along the waterfront was nice, the bicycle tires silently floating over the walkways. There was old boats at the docks, small cabins along the way and the trees were starting to get yellow leaves on their branches. It was a great autumn day for a tweed parade. No sun and no rain. A perfect bicycle and tweed day.

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Views of the surroundings from a riders perspective

In the middle of the race there was a stop at the park theatre at the Rålambshov park just outside the city.
It was time for picnic and the official group photo of all riders and their bicycles. It was nice to sit down and have a cup of tea and a sandwich. One of the sponsors of the parade I mentioned earlier, Hendrick´s Gin, were there and offered lemonade and cucumber sandwiches to the riders.  We all got time for admiration of the other bicycles, discussions with people with the same interests, laughs and music. It was really nice to have a break at the park theatre. Then after a while we were off again, towards the next stop on the route at Hasselbacken restaurant where a cold gin and tonic was awaiting our arrival.
It was a long way there, lots of hills and traffic. We were going straight in the middle of the city. But it was said that just this day all car traffic in the city was not permitted in order to make it easy for bicyclists, that was just perfect for our parade.

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Picnic at the park theatre

I guess there is no need to say anything about the roads that was chosen for us. But I feel that I must say that this year to use the central parts of Stockholm as an route was a bad decision. Roadworks, closed off lines, 160 bicycle riders together with buses and taxis in the same lane. As mentioned, it would be a “car free day” in the city. It was, but sadly not where our route was planed. For me as an bicycle rider on a big, heavy tandem bicycle, keeping the balance in very low speed and at the same time keep my eyes open for buses, taxies and other riders was challenging. It was a fight, as commander of the “dreadnought” I worked all my skills in navigating between people, taxis, buses and other tweed riders. But it all worked out fine in the end.

At Hasselbacken, again the nice sponsor Hendrick´s Gin gave every rider an voucher for a gin and tonic (non alcoholic alternative was available of course) in the restaurants outside garden. We salute the nice gesture with a bow and keeping Hendrick´s in mind for the next gin purchase. After riding for a few hours the ice cold GT was very, very tasty and made the riders temperature go back to normal. Especially after the hills and the traffic in the city. Again we talked a lot and laughed, the spirit was high and we all looked forward to the finish and the events at the Nordic Museum. So after some time we all started again, down the road a few hundred meters to the Nordic Museum where we all was shown to the side entry of the museum to bring in all bicycles up to the main hall where they should make a display.

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One of the sponsors, Hendrick´s

At the museum they had an all day long event in the theme of the 1940’s for the public to visit. Cloths, fashion show, dance shows and the restaurant served 1940s themed food. The peak of the day was when we all came and put all or bicycles on display in the main hall. It was a pity that the bicycles was standing there only for a short while. It would have been a great display to watch all bicycles, having all the owners write a small note with information and history of the bicycle. I had my trusty camera with me, the Fujifilm x100. But I must confess. I did not take as many photos as I wanted, there was so many other things to do and see. But I got a few photos, among the ones in this post. Considering the amount of lenses and smart phones that was aimed at us during the parade. I guess that there will be many more photos around the inter-web soon, featuring Tweed and old bicycles. Perhaps one and another “Dreadnought” tandem bicycle.

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Riding the narrow streets of old Stockholm

There we were standing, having a beer and waiting for the price ceremony. There had been a jury judging the riders and bicycles right from the start and now it was time to learn what the jury had decided. There was a price for best dressed lady, that was a lovely girl with a fantastic hairdo, all in a typical 1940’s sporty look (she is the girl mending the young girls skirt above). Then we had best technical bicycle, that was a Norwegian chap that came to Stockholm with his Norwegian bicycle. It was really nice! The there was a price for the best dressed youth. It was a girl which dress had broken at the start (also seen on the photo above). Then there was a gentleman from the northern parts of Sweden. He got a price for his appearance, all dressed in a 1890’s bicycle uniform, riding an high wheeler from Holland. Then they announced that there were a price for the best looking carriage. It was awarded… us?!
We got an price for looking great on our 1940’s Rex Duplex tandem bicycle. So we had to enter the stage and receive the cheers from the other riders. Now that was a real surprise!

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Schneebremse with brother on the stage

Bike in tweed 2016? Of course. See you there.

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Bicycles in Munich

Vacation time!

This year the trip went to south Germany and Munich, the capital of Bavaria. Also home of the (in)famous Oktoberfest beer festival, heavy food and nice architecture. History and modern visions, side by side. Munich centre is a old city with its narrow alleys and old houses, we have “bierkellers” large restaurants with lots of tables and benches where you can just sit down, have a beer or eat some food. Then we have the traditional “biergartens”, that is an outside place where you can drink and eat. Often with large chestnut trees making a comfortable shade over the biergarten.

What to eat at those places? Well the traditional dishes like potatoes with grilled pork or sausages and sauerkraut are to recommend, at least that is what I think. Those dishes are always tasty and nice. All these places serve beer from one of the 6 main brewers in Munich. They have big signs outside where they display what brewery they are connected to. Of course the breweries got their own bierkellers and beirgartens, where there are music and lots of people having fun and a great time. It is a special feeling to sit there and eat when the music is playing, sometimes bands with traditional music. But mostly there is no music at all. Only the conversations from all people.

My favourite place in Munich is not the the places in the city as you think of it. It is the huge park called “English garten” that is located in the city centre. It is was founded in 1789 and have forests, small rivers, bridges, walkways, paths for horse riding and bicycle lanes and even a small man made waterfall. In the middle of the park there is the “Chinesiser turm” (Chinese tower), that is a large building shape in a Asian style that was built in 1789 (rebuilt in 1952). There is an square at the tower where you can buy food and drinks in a open air environment. Just go in to the food court and take the food you want, then you pay on your way out. Then you can sit anywhere, there are hundreds of benches and tables all over the square. The are large chestnut trees standing there giving the dinner place shade in the sunshine. Sitting three with a tweed jacket and just enjoying the moment, that is a great feeling.

Now and then there is Bavarian folk music played from the tower. On one of the middle floors there is a band, dressed in traditional clothes playing songs from the alp regions. Or some other tunes. Now and then they play the signal that are so associated with beer and Munich. It is a short melody, that translates: “a cheer, a cheer, for Gemütlichkeit (translated roughly to, cosiness or good cheer)…. one….two…..bottoms up”!

People are walking around in traditional clothes, young, old everyone has them. Lederhosen and drindls. You know the cloths all stereotypes ever made of Germans in comedy sketches all over the world. That is the south of Germany and the traditional clothes. But there it is not funny, it is with pride they wear the clothes and hats with pins and huge brushes. The girls with their colourful dresses. Impressive!

But the thing that impressed me was all bicycles. Old, new, roadsters, racers, mountain bikes, city bikes. They were everywhere. You can find new elegant Duch Gazelle lady bicycles, worn vintage German Bauer’s. There was old Italian Bianchi’s one and another old Swiss army bicycle complete with leather bags and original saddle. There were fixies, single speeders, cruisers and cargo bicycles. All handled with the skills of professional riders. There was one crossing where the bicycle riders came down a hill at very fast speed. If you happened to walk out in the designated area for bicycles on the side walk. An symphony of bells would sound and angry gestures from the riders. I used to call them “Giro de Munich” riders.

I was a great vacation! Sadly I had no bicycle. But now there is a dream of mine. That is to ride my Pelago bicycle in the English garden a nice summer day. I bet it will be a real eye catcher. Or perhaps I will try to find a old Bauer for sale. Like the one on the photo below. Or a really old one, with an big headlight and rod operated breaks. Or a Bianchi where the rear calliper brake wire goes inside the frame.

They all are really great looking.

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