Nordic Tweed 2019, part 2

Part two of my Nordic Tweed adventure, is more a reflection of the tweed event spirit I have experienced during all events I have participated in. The name of the event it self can in a way be a give away, tweed ride, tweed run, or bike in tweed. Something connecting tweed and biking, often a cities name is in there to.

First of all, what is a tweed event? I will try to make a short explanation. It is an event where people gathers dressed in, preferable in tweed clothes (but no demand), riding a vintage or elegant bicycle. There might be tea involved, as well as some shortbread cookies or sandwiches, often had at the same time as the tea.

After riding along the streets of the city, the more advanced riders might even have a gin and tonic to rinse away the old road dust out of their throats. The event is in no way a speed race, nor is it an competition in any way. I would like to describe it as more of an parade, with tweed dressed, vintage peddling bicyclists, riding along the streets of a city while ringing their bicycles bells and waving to baffled and confused bystanders.


The registration station at Bike in Tweed 2013 in Stockholm

A way to describe the riders in a way is perhaps to compare them to characters in a P-G Woodhouse novel. An undefined, 1930’s, British inspired, happy go-lucky, care free, sun-is-always-shining, have a cup of tea and a cucumber sandwich, while riding a bicycle event.

In fact, the best support for that comparison, was at the start in Copenhagen Tweed Ride, where they actually played the TV-series Jeeves and Wooster theme tune. It was a perfect way to start an happy cheerio and toodle pip event. Of course, it is a slightly silly, but it is also a happy, innocent, care free spirit event. The riders are able to once a year stop worrying about the everyday grey world, and just have fun in together with others tweed dressed, vintage bicycle riding people.

What I have discovered by attending over 20 tweed events during the years is that there are four major parts that makes up every tweed event. I mentioned it briefly at the end of my last article. I mentioned TBPP, that stands for Tweed, Bicycle, Picnic and Party. All those things can be adjusted, every event has their focus on one of those foundation pillars. But all four parts is important in the making of an tweed event.


A well dressed lady with a dog and vintage bicycle. Malmö Tweed Ride 2017

 

First we have Tweed

Tweed is the wool fabric that is quintessential British for many. Timeless, tough and has been around for ages. Tweed was the preferred fabric for George Malory and other fearless gentlemen explorers back in the day. They went about in jungles, arctic, mountains and on the sea dressed in tweed. If there had been a moon exploration led by the British back then, I would guess that even the first space suit would have been made of tweed.

Since the fabric has grown in popularity the last 10-20 years, clothes made of tweed are more available in many shops more than ever, both in the cities and on internet based shops. You can find a classical cut tweed suit made by Harris Tweed or Donegal, in shops as Walker Slater and Cordings. They have a range of modern style tweed clothes in flamboyant colours as well. There are tweed caps of all sizes and styles, flat caps, 9 pieces, news boys, Sherlock Holmes and so on easily available just a click away. In fact, there is a tweed item available for everyone in every style.

Some participants in tweed events like to have vintage outfits, complete with vintage shoes, socks and gloves. But there is also modern tweed clothes and accessories. Tweed is not a must, there are of course other garments, vintage dresses, top hats and tails, all sorts of vintage uniforms. But tweed is the main fabric, just because it is a classical look and have been around for a long time.

The most important thing is to do what you want. Do not dress on the base on how others might look at you. Is it a tweed event, dress in tweed or in fancy vintage clothes. Everyone dresses up to look dashing, that is the main thing.


Tweed, traditional dress and old uniform among the riders. Bike in Tweed 2017, in Stockholm


Tweed is also a great fabric in the winter, Helsinki Winter Tweed Run 2018

 

Then there is the bicycles

The bicycle is important part of the event, after all, it is a “ride a bicycle while dressed in tweed event”. Often it is an untold rule to ride a vintage bicycle. But all sorts of bicycles are used, I have seen modern bicycles with lots of gears, all shapes of cargo bicycles, rental bicycles and many original vintage bicycles among with not so original vintage bicycles.

For example, I had a really modern rental bicycle when I participated in the Copenhagen Tweed Ride this year. As for me, as an international visitor with limited options to bring along my bicycle. I needed to rent a bicycle, many of the rentals have classical British inspired roadsters available that blend in among the other bicycles rather nice. Except my white hotel bicycle, that one was a monstrosity. But as they say, “needs must…”.

As with clothes, I think most bicycles are accepted as long as they are suitable for the event. An mountain bicycle or a tempo racer might not cut the mustard.


Vintage bicycles at Uppsala Vintage biking 2017


Rental bicycles at Tweed Run 2018, London

 

Then we have the picnic

I discovered early on that bringing a hamper with food, sandwiches, drinks, tea and cakes while sitting with others on a blanket in the grass, relaxing and enjoying the moment is what a good picnic is all about. It is also one of the four parts in a great tweed event.

The picnic it self is something that are a bit different among each event. For example, in Norway the picnic is at the end of the ride. Or like the Copenhagen picnic that is located in the middle of the ride and are about 2 hours long. Relaxing the the grass, setting up impressive tables with trays filled with cakes, cookies, sandwiches, salads and everything in between. An afternoon tea outside, drinking champagne in crystal glasses while music is playing vintage jazz.

In Stockholm the picnic is more of an short break, like the ones we had in school on hiking days. We are sitting down and eats our packed lunches before heading away again. The picnic is important for many of the riders, again, I think it is a British thing, afternoon tea and a chat. Lovely, innit?


Wonderful picnic break, Copenhagen Tweed Ride 2019


Picnic at the finish line, Tweed Run Norway 2018

 

Lastly, the party

The time after all riders have made the entire route, when everyone is relaxing and having fun while talking to each others and admiring each others outfits, discussing tweed, hats, bicycles and different accessories. That is the time when a prize ceremony sometimes is held. The organizer will give a prize to the best dressed lady, best dressed gentleman, best looking bicycle and other categories. Prizes can be handed out for anything to anyone. But it is a fun part of the event.

Sometimes there is a jury that selects nominees and then pick out the winners. Sometimes the participants can vote for whom they think is the winner in each category. The most impressive voting system so far for me was in Copenhagen 2019, we were handed an sheet of paper with different categories, ranging from the best looking beard to the nicest picnic setup.


The winners of Reykjavík Tweed Ride 2019

I think that the majority of all participants in a tweed event have no desire to win, it is not a competition in any way. Everyone are looking fantastic, many have been working on their outfit, or restored their bicycle for a long time in preparation for the tweed even and now wants to show it to everyone. A price is a more an general acknowledgment of recognition.

The prizes can be everything form bicycle parts, clothes, flowers, candy and gin. Hendricks gin is a sponsor of many tweed events, and they usually hands out a special price that sometimes can be a bottle of gin.


One of the winners at Malmö Tweed Ride 2018


Winners in the category best carriage, Bike in Tweed 2015, Stockholm

I think that Malmö Tweed Ride had the best idea for prizes so far. A paper rosette with ribbons for the winners. It is inexpensive, but a very prestigious prize. After all, tweedians are not there to win, more to dress up and enjoying the day. An prize is just a bonus. After the prize ceremony the dinner and party usually starts, music, food and drinks all night long.


Tweedians, Bike in Tweed 2013, Stockholm

 

To summarize.

It is quite simple, dress up in an tweed-ish outfit, there is no need for it to be vintage, dashing is a great guide. Bring out your old bicycle, if you have one. Pack a bag or a basket with tea, lemonade, beer, water or gin and tonic, sandwiches, cake, food and ride along and have fun, enjoying the moment, meeting new and old friends. Ride to the finish line for the party and have fun while dressed up in tweed. Listen to the music and just live in the moment.

I guess that is all what makes a great tweed event.

 

 

 

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