Enamel cups and solo tweed rides

One of the best things with riding a vintage bicycle while dressed in tweed, is that you can stop at any time, where you find a nice spot and have a rest. Contrary to the riders with their modern bicycles, racing along as they would loose the yellow leader shirt in tour de France, while firmly gripping their protein shakes. Or the leisure commuter riders swooping along on their electrical bicycles for that matter.

I think that many of them do not have, either the time or, the interest of having a breather by an old oak tree, just to sit there in the grass and watch the clouds drift along in the sky. Of course they might do that sometimes, but most of the time they have a schedule and destination for their ride. Oak trees and sitting in the grass do not fit any of those schedule or destinations.

For tweed riders, it is a different issue. It is the ride it self, that is the destination. There is plenty of time to sit down in the grass by the old oak trees while having several cups of tea and along with some cake. The picnic is a part of the ride.

When you are out and about on your bicycle, perhaps you ride along some lovely roads in the countryside. Suddenly you feel a bit peckish, there is an sudden urge for something to drink, or perhaps even having a bit of food. What would be the best food to eat at an moment like that?

Hot coco, a pate sandwich with cucumbers wrapped in baking paper. Tasty and easy to make.

For me, an old fashioned picnic is good enough. There might be a café or a pub just around the next corner, that offers a large selection of drinks, sandwiches, pub-grub or something else to eat. If you ride alone you can sneak in to a pub for a steak and ale pie, that is just fine and fun. But if you are a group of tweedians on an excursion and you suddenly dash in for a pint and a pie while your fellow riders sits on blankets in the field nearby eating sandwishes. There might be an ever so slightly raise of an eyebrow or two upon your decision. Now, if it was decided on beforehand that everyone should eat at the pub, well that is a different story.

Then we have the issue with planning. It is more convenient and practical to bring along a packed lunch right from the start, instead of looking for an establishment that is open and serves food and drinks that pleases everyone in the company along the way. One more advantage with your own packed lunch, is that you always know what the menu is and the opening hours are rather generous.

Enamel mug and plate, on that picnic I brought along a cake and a small glass for spirits

In my most uneducated personal opinion, a packed lunch should be simple and easy to bring along on the ride. While neatly packed in your backpack or saddle bags, you can bring along lots of different items. For example, you can have cucumber and cheese sandwiches, or if you truly are feeling the spirit of tweed. Why not an version of English afternoon tea? Complete with strawberry jam, cream tea scones, Earl Grey tea and champagne. That is not a problem. As long as you are an master of packing and own a hamper of the size of an small car. When it comes to food, anything goes. After all, it is you whom deicides what to bring along in your package on the ride.

What I personally have found out during all my tweed rides (over 35 rides so far), is perhaps not to bring along a complete afternoon tea set up, with crystal glasses and fine china. But instead bring along incredible reliable and sturdy items. I like to pack my pausenbrot (breaktime snack in German) according to the “less is more” spirit. Thoughtful and effective.

I often bring along simple sandwiches with classic toppings. Sandwiches of the kind that every kid in Sweden have been eating since the dawn of time, or at least since the early 1950’s. “Prickig korv” (a Swedish version of salami), some cheese and why not that infamous smoked caviar on tube. The kind of caviar that only people from Sweden and Finland eat.

For me sandwiches like that is a bit nostalgic. I had sandwiches like that when I was a kid and had packed lunches on school field trips, often with an added fruit as desert. Back then when we were on our filed trips, we thought our packed lunches were so boring. But it turns out that our parents knew what they were doing back then. Some sandwiches, something to drink and a fruit so you get energy to keep on hunting leaves, looking for elks or what ever the teachers wanted us to do.

On my tweed rides today I wrap my sandwiches in regular baking tray paper for easy transport and also for the classical feel, brown paper goes well with tweed. For the drinking I usually have one or two bottles of beer (remember to check your local regulations about drinking and riding a bicycle). Sometimes during the cold months I bring a thermos flask with hot water so I can make a nice cup of tea or coco and if I feel like it, a boiled egg or some fruits or vegetables just might slip along in the package.

Salami sandwiches, just as back then. A beer, enamel cup and a small glass of punsch

Now when we have our sandwiches and drinks packed. What else should we pack to have a nice day on the ride? I think function is better than style, but if you can mix them both. That is when you have a winner! That is where the enamel cup come sin to play. An enamel cup is suitable for anything, soup, tea, beer, water. It even works with champagne, it might feel a bit odd. But champagne is still champagne, even if it is served in a chipped old enamel cup.

What else might you need in your packing? Perhaps a small plate to serve your sandwiches or cake on. That always lifts the look of the picnic. A knife and fork might come in handy, if you need to cut the cake or other need to slice other delightful items offered to you. If you bring some fruit and vegetables in the bag. it will be cleaner to use an knife to cut than to try to cut a slice of melon with your fingers. I also recommend to pack a selections of spoons to stir the tea or coco for example, it is so uncivilized to stir with an oily screwdriver. No one does that…

Using an oily screwdriver as spoon to stir hot coco

Sometimes I use my fathers old stainless steel food container from the 1970’s for my picnic. It is just perfect to pack other items that are not suitable for wrapping in paper. Like cake, fruit, eggs, cheese, crackers and so on. Just be creative and line the box with baking paper and pack the items well and it will withstand almost any abuse along the way.

Another good tip is to use tableware that are robust and sturdy. Hence my choice of enamel, porcelain and china have the unfortunate tendency to crack during wipe-outs. I have noticed that many tweedians here in Sweden are using genuine vintage Swedish enamel items made by Kockums. Those are rather expensive and sometimes quite rare to find.

There are plates and other enamel wares available on internet in all price ranges, both the famous and a bit expensive brand Falcon here or the new version of the classic Swedish brand Kockums here to the more obscure no-name brands like this one here. I can use them and if they gets chipped, it is not the end of the world. Instead of chipping an vintage enamel set in excellent condition, that would be a shame.

That is why I use a set of no-name enamel hardware, no big deal if I chip or loose the mug or plate. The mug with blue decorative rim costed about €4 in a surplus store, the plate were more expensive, about €15 bought at Skansen here in Sweden. But with some research on the interwebs you can find mugs, plates, bowls and other items rather cheep.

The cutlery I use, comes from older relatives estate. After they cleaned out some their old worn cutlery and was going to scrap them, I took care of it just because of this reason. It is the same with the vintage tea towels, old, worn and discarded. But in the end everything is matching, all in a vintage and used style.

That is one more point I would like to make. It is always a good thing to bring an old tea towel or two along the ride. First of all, it is very handy to wrap all the items in to the towels so cutlery, bottles, plates and other items do not rattle or break anything in your bag. Sometimes I even strap my mug to the outside of the backpack or bicycle bag. That is something I noticed while attending the London Tweed Run back in 2018. Many of the riders had enamel cups strapped on their backpack, I guess they always wanted to be ready for a cup of tea? Who am I to do otherwise?

The towel also makes a nice tablecloth if needed and it is good to have something handy to wipe things clean after eating so your backpack do not not reek of old beer, tea, fruit juice or other liquids that might have been seeping into every nook and cranny in your bag, causing rather unpleasant smells and embarrassing stains on your woollen sweater you packed for the cold night during the ride.

Lastly, it is a good idea to bring a thermos flask or/and a bottle with water, hot water or cold water. Cold water to drink, hot water for tea or coco. Both is good to rinse up the cutlery, cup, plate and your hands after eating, and drying with the tea towels. It is hygienic and easy.

My bicycle picnic set up the latest years. Enamel mug and plate, vintage cutlery and tea towels and flasks for water

London Tweed Run 2018, notice the two enamel cups on the luggage rack on the tandem bicycle

Vintage tea towel as tablecloth, it turned out really nice. Sandwiches with prickig korv and fried egg

This year has been a strange year, there were a pandemic that made us rethink our ways of living and doing activities. We had to adopt to new ways, our daily routines and make adjustments in our way to travel. For us tweedians, we could not attend any of our favourite events. There were strict regulations on how many participants was allowed to attend an event. Because everyone was affected by all regulations, new improvised events were made, some were smaller or even what I think is the best solution that was invented like Tweed Ride Berlin did.

They planned to have their main event in April. But as the regulations made it impossible to implement the tweed event, the Berlin organizers came up with the splendid idea of making an sort of internet tweed event instead. The decided to inform all the riders to use the hashtag #solotweedride instead. The riders would dress up and take their bicycle for a ride alone or with a partner. Taking some photos and then posting them online.

Crescent 1928 bicycle on a Solo tweed ride

We were going to use the #solotweedride hashtag to be a part of a large community. Of course it is not the same to dress to ride by your self or in a small group, instead of riding along in a big event with over 100 riders, complete with music, prices and dancing. New times demands new ways.

But with that #solotweedride hashtag, riders all over the world, even those who could not travel to Berlin in the first place, were able to attend the event via a digital media. If you search #solotweedride on Instagram for example, there is about 179 post just about that topic. It is great fun!

While I was doing some solo tweed rides, I found out that it is a special feeling of a relaxing bicycle ride. No specific destination, no time to keep. Only riding without stress, or any rush. Riding the bicycle with packed bags, find a nice spot in the shade of some trees, preferably an oak tree and having an simple picnic by your self or with a fellow tweedian.

It is very nice to escape reality for a couple of hours or so. For me, I discovered that riding early in the morning was more relaxing than riding in the afternoon. The fresh air, the sun is gently heating up the dew and the streets are quiet. Pack an simple picnic, dress up in a tweed and take a ride. No need to join an event. Just make it as an Solo Tweed Ride, an unofficial tweed event by using #solotweedride hashtag.

Let us hope for a great tweed event filled 2021. Remember, there is always time for a relaxing ride on your own.

Happy new year dear readers.

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