Winter Tweed Run Helsinki 2019

Back in 2018, I decided that I would join the 2019 Winter Tweed Run event in Helsinki. It is simply a very fun and relaxing event, with the spirit of “take an bicycle, dress in tweed and join us for a ride around Helsinki in February”. Who could resist that?

The days before Saturday 23rd of February.

The previous years I participated the event I boarded the ferry to Finland by riding my bicycle onto the car deck as one should. But this time I thought that if I were going to attend the event alone, I would carry my bicycle onboard the ferry. Simply by putting the bicycle in a large bicycle bag and carry it as normal luggage. The thought I had was to make the transport simpler and at the same time have less things to think about.

One candidate for the carry-on mission was the black Crescent that I built earlier. It is very minimalistic bicycle, it has no mudguards or other details that just add on more weight. Beside the wheels got quick release nuts! In short, the bicycle is perfect for easy travel. Just remove the wheels and carry it in a bag. Easy as pie, right? The date for the event got closer. I would go along with my “travelling light and carry the bicycle” plan. I bought an cheap bicycle bag that would fit my bicycle from 1927. There were bags with wheels, rigid cases that could stand a standing on top of it. But I went along with the cheapest one.

After removing the wheels, handlebars and pedals the bicycle fitted quite nicely in the bag. The bag itself have two handles and one shoulder strap. Perfect to carry alone as an large luggage. I packed my tweed in a bag and collected the bicycle bag from the basement. After packing the bicycle in the bag, I carried it to the subway and began my journey to Helsinki.


It is not allowed to ride the subway with an bicycle, but what if it is in a bag?

The subway ride went well. But on my way to the ferry I noticed that the bag was heavy. Really heavy! In the city I met up with a friend who went along the trip for a weekend in Helsinki. He asked if he could help carrying the bag.

The help was most welcome since the bag become heavier and heavier for me. Soon we went onboard the boat with the bag. No one did not even look twice at my bag with the bicycle. After a nice cruise we walked the streets of Helsinki to the hotel where we both were staying. I was carrying the bicycle while my friend helped out by carrying the wheels. That helped a lot. Checking in to the hotel was no problem either. But I was a broken man, the weight of the bag was silly. It was a stupid idea, carry on the bicycle like a luggage?! What was I thinking?

On the day of the event I went outside the entrance of the hotel and unpacked the bicycle. There I mounted the wheels, handlebars and pedals by using the tools I brought along with me. My good friend that joined me for the travel, took care of the bicycle bag while I joined the event. We had to board the boat back to Sweden later the same day so we decided to meet up later on that afternoon at the ferry.


Just a small detour, passing Vanha kirkkopuisto before the start

I arrived at Senaatintori (the senate square) a bit earlier than the start at 1300. There were already other tweed riders at the square, I rode up to them and joined them. There were familiar and new faces, we said hello to each other and started talking about each others bicycles and the event. There was a wide range of styles and brands of bicycles on display, new and vintage bicycles to admire and talk about.

I helped an fellow rider with some information about tires. He had a pair of really, really old and worn original 1930’s tires that had cracked and I was worried that they were about to break at any moment. Sadly I forgot to tell him the measurement on my own tires. But I hope that he will find some replacement tires. Suddenly there was a familiar honking sound in the distance. The organisers was arriving, riding their cargo bicycles while honking an old bicycle horn.


Just arrived to the start area meeting other Winter tweeders


Bicycles and warm dressed ladies talking


The organizers cargo bicycles have arrived

After their arrival, the organisers walked around and greeted each one of us personally and gave everyone a small sticker with the Winter Tweed Run Helsinki 2019 event logo. For me those stickers are really nice to put on the bicycle frame as well as a souvenir. We started talking about all different tweed events I have attended, many were impressed by all places I have been to. When we were talking it was all Swedish, English and Finnish in a strange mix. The feeling of being welcomed by the organisers were, as usual truly heart warming and admirable.


That is a really cool space influenced bicycle

Sadly, I had to inform the organisers that I was not be able to join the party afterwards, since I had a boat to catch the same afternoon. But I would at least join them for a ride along the coast line. During the conversation I got invitations to other bicycle events in Finland during this following summer. It would be really fun to join a summer event in Finland.


In front of Helsinki Cathedral

The bicycle horn was honking! Attention ladies and gentlemen, it is time for a group photo! We formed us as a group in front Alexander the 2nd the statue in the middle of the square. After everyone had their photos taken, we were off. The route was as previous years. Following the shoreline, passing the Olympia terminal, Kaivopuisto park and further down to Eira, up along Sandudds cemetery to the finish at Regatta café. It is a really lovely route with nice views.


Here we go, cars stopping, people waving. An bicycle event in February is not so common I guess.


Passing the Silja Line ferry at the Olympia terminal


Heading down to Eira


Shore of Lapinlahti

The ride continued onwards, at Sandudds cemetery it was time for me to break the formation and head to the ferry. I said good by to the tweed riders and headed back, across the city.

During this event I learned some very important lessons:
1, a bicycle made in the late 1920’s, is made of iron and weighs about the same as a modern small car.
2, when riding in mud and snow. Mudguards are a saviour for your clothes and the fellow riders behind you.
3, an luggage rack is really needed for bags with sandwiches and drinks, you can not have all in your pockets.
4, why carry a bicycle, weighing as a iron bed from the Victorian era, when you can ride the bicycle onboard the ferry?


Heading back to the ferry, sadly missing the party

Thank you all for a great event, all laughs and good memories. I will keep my eyes open for Winter Tweed Run Helsinki 2020. But next time, can we hope for a real winter tweed event with -20 degrees and lots of snow?

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Spring cleaning

It was a long winter!

That is not a problem for us with bicycles. You can ride a bicycle and enjoy the cold, but fresh air while avoiding ice patches and cars that are stuck in the snow and skidding along. A lonely winter road with packed snow as road surface is just lovely.

But sadly that kind winter wonderland roads are scarce when living in a large city that are filled to the limits with cars, lorry’s and people rushing around all the time. Perhaps the first week after a heavy snow storm it might be lovely snowy roads in the city. But as soon as the road crews are out with their sanding machines, the before snowy white winter wonderland roads turns into large swamps of grey melted slush.


Seen in the city, a brave motorcycle rider defies the elements

They spread the sand on streets, pavements, cars, people and forest paths. The sand is everywhere! On the main roads they also use salt. Road salt that melts the ice so the cars got good grip. It works!

But when it is cold the snow do not melt, instead it turns in to boring, grey, salty slush. Riding a bicycle in that kind of slush is not fun at all. First of all, the bicycle tires are not made for that kind of artificial road surface. When the snow is packed it is all just fine! But when having to cruise in 10 centimetres thick greyish swamp-ish slush that are covering roads it is a different matter. The tires just keeps digging down into the slush, snow and ice.


A ride in the first days of spring

The slush get stuck on everything, wheels, mudguards, luggage rack, clothes, its is everywhere. The really sad part is that the salty grey slush also corrodes metal quick! That is really quick! After riding in that kind of poisons slush the important thing is to wash the bicycle with water and keep it stored inside rather quickly.

After the Helsinki Tweed Run my two bicycles was covered with a thick  layer of that corroding grey salt slush. I do not have any place to wash the bicycles so all I did was wiped them fairly clean with a cloth right away after arriving home again (the cloth turned black after the wiping). My intention was to ride the bicycles one at the time to a car wash at an petrol station nearby. They have separate stalls for car washes where you wash your car by hand. You pay a fee and get to use the wash equipment for a limited time.


Just finished washing the 1956 Hermes at the petrol station.

As soon the snow melted a bit and it was relative dry outside. I took the bicycles for a ride to the car wash. I guess many of the car owners raised their eyebrows a bit when they saw me standing there washing a old bicycle instead of a car.

I covered the sensitive parts on the bicycles like saddle, handlebar grips, headlights and cranks with old plastic bags. After that I covered the entire bicycle with a cleaning agent and then washed and rinsed  it all with water. Final treatment in the wash was to use a new cloth to dry the bicycle and polish the chrome/nickel parts.


1938 Wiklunds, Nordstjärnan (Northen star) got a well deserved wash. Not the Helsinki tram rails rust on the front tire. That will never go away. A visible memory an an fun event.

After cycling home and enjoying the first warm rays of spring, I dismounted the wheels and greased the axles and bearings with new grease and a drop of oil where needed. Even the spring to the stand was creaking after all corrosive salt slush from the winter. It got cleaned and lubricated with a drop of oil.

Polishing and cleaning. That is a spring event. A sure way to say good bye to the winter and greet the spring welcome.


Badly parked after the wash, the Hermes is placed inside until warmer weather


Nordstjärnan in the sunlight

 

Stockholm Bike in Tweed 2013

One day I was browsing videos on youtube and found a video about an tweed event in London called London Tweed Run. I thought it looked fun and interesting. All those dresses and bicycles. After all I have been to UK many times, mostly back in the 1990’s. But even later on too. Also being a lover of Jeeves and Wooster I had a silly affection to the imaginary British. After some research I found out that there was an similar event held in Stockholm. What?! I really wanted to join that event, it sounds really fun!

What could it be? Could I join? After reading about it I realized that I had all the requirements for the tweed event. I all reddy had what could fit the bill. An vintage bicycle, No problems, only need to fill the tires with air. But then we had the issue with tweed clothes. I have my old herringbone Harris Tweed jacket, an old pullover in a semi-English style. But no tweed trousers… What to do? Deep inside the closet I found a pair of old grey trousers, they had to make do. I guess I will had to buy a tweed cap to complete the look.

After talking to a co-worker at work, that also loves tweed and odd things, he wanted to join the event too. Sadly, he did not own an vintage bicycle. It was at that moment I came up with the idea of us riding a tandem bicycle. We browsed the internet and found a blue Rex Duplex tandem for sale, just south of the city a few minutes drive from where I live.

Communications with the seller was set up and after an agreement we meet and bought the tandem bicycle. It needed some cleaning and small adjustments after many years in storage. That was easy, a few weeks later we meet and started to fix the bicycle. It was summer and nice weather, a BBQ, some beer and bicycle repairs. Changing tires, saddles, handlebar grips and so on. The old tandem turned out great!


Number 23, our blue Rex Duplex tandem bicycle next to number 131 a brown Rex Duplex that two girls was riding

On the morning of the event I packed my grandfathers old bicycle bag with some bottles of beer and a bunch of cucumber sandwiches. I headed over to the co-worker that had the tandem in his basement.

When we was heading off for the Bike in Tweed event it was the first time we tried to ride the tandem, ever! Not bad to decide to ride straight for a 4 hours when never riding a tandem before. We managed to reach the start at Kungstradgården in central Stockholm. There we meet up with the organizers registration and got our starting numbers and saw all other absolutely fabulous dresses, suits, hats, bicycles, people. It was amazing to see them all!


Registration and map of the route


Lovely girls at the start in Kungsträdgården


I could only dream of looking this dashing


What a great smile! Everyone was happy


Waiting at an traffic light

We made it to the finish line at Stadsmuseet at Slussen where we all parked our bicycles and received a beer to cool down before the price ceremony! After the handing out of prices for bes dressed man, lady and best looking bicycle. We headed inside for dinner. Cottage pie with salad and all trimmings. Tasty!

We decided at that moment to attend next year too.


Price ceremony


Not only tweed, vintage clothes works just as well


A refreshing beer at the price ceremony


Happy tweed!