Springtime for Tweed

It has been a while since I last wrote here. Well, as usual I have no good excuse for not writing. More that laziness and that the weather has been bad (says the fellow who wrote an article about riding a bicycle in Helsinki in the middle of February).

That is true, but can I say to my defence that I actually had nothing interesting to write about? After all, reading about bicycles and more bicycles can be a bit boring for you. Considering that I once stated that the motto of this blogg was “my view of things around me”. Then the question is, how difficult can it be to write things that are around me? Strangely, not difficult at all.
But, what can I write to still keep the level of my writing style? I can of course write political articles, reviews of things that I tried. I could write endless posts about movies, music, life and so on. But would I like to do that? Strangely, yes and no.


the sticker from Helsinki tweed run is still there

If I started a long time ago and kept it all under one roof, all writings, thoughts and articles collected here under this blogg. Then it would have be a great collection of my views. An time line over what I, as a person, was developing. Different interests and ideas over the years. But after starting this blogg rather recently.  I realized that I wanted to keep it clean, no statements other that “tweed is nice” and “vintage bicycling is the bees knees”, you get the point. An sort of silly, harmless writing about things that offends no one. That is what we really need at this day and age. More harmless silliness about nothing.

So here I am, writing about old bicycles and Tweed hoping that I offend no one.

In fact, now when writing about it. I realize that I never have written anything about tweed it self, the cloth. All my experiences of the cloth with stories from my early teens up to the present. The change in fashion and other ideas all over but how tweed always was important and why a grey herringbone tweed was important for me. Could that be something for you to read?

Or I could write about my ideas for a new bicycle project that I have been thinking of for many years. Once I had an old Swedish military bicycle from the 40’s. Sadly it was in a pretty bad shape and was later even stolen. But today, I would really like to get one again and this time really try to get it in good working order. It would be fun, they are heavy, but reliable!

I can also now officially let you know that I have an vision to participate of 5 different Bicycle Tweed Rides/races/runs this year. That vision brings me to the issue of bicycles in general. After all, I really would love to only have one good vintage bicycle that I could use and participate in different Tweed Rides. But as now, I had different bicycles in every event. There is more articles to write about. In fact, when thinking about it. I have no time to do something else than writing. The questing is how to earn money on writing?

To something completely different. The weather today was an lovely day in the spring with lots of sunshine and chirping birds. In short, it was a perfect day to take the 1956 Hermes bicycle for a ride. I have not moved or looked at it since my return from the Helsinki event, I have not even cleaned it yet. But still the tires had full pressure, nothing on the frame was loose.
I brought my tweed jacket and took a ride. It went smooth as silk. They knew how to make great bicycles back then.


the weather was perfect for an ride with an vintage bicycle, springtime

Happy Tweed!

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Bike in tweed, 2016

The day we had waited for had come, it was time for Bike in Tweed 2016. We were three fellows in tweed that had decided to meet at 9’a clock in the morning outside an local bakery shop for our traditional breakfast before the start of the event. The staff at the bakery must have been surprised when three gentlemen in tweed suits looking as they came from the 1940’s was entering the their shop and starts to order sandwiches and drinks. Fashionable as can be! But we got many possitive comments on how great we looked.

We had a quiet talk about the events during the day while eating an fresh breakfast sandwich. We talked about meeting familiar faces once again and all the happy smiles from the bystanders that will stop and look along the way. The spirit of the event, with music and lots of great bicycles and well dressed people, it was going to be a great day! After the breakfast we all mounted our bicycles and started the ride into the central parts of Stockholm, the old town and Stortorget to be precise. The sun greeted us welcome to the city when we were riding over the bridges and enjoying the view.

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The view when we were close to the starting point at Stortorget

There we were, three gentlemen in tweed on vintage bicycles along new bicycles and everyday commuters, we got lots of curious looks and smiles. When we got closer to the old town, more and more vintage bicycles with riders also dressed in tweed were visible, we were on the right way to the meeting. When we all were walking the narrow alleys pushing our bicycles, many tourists looked puzzled and took photos of us. It must have been a strange sight for them.

The registration for the participants opened at 10 a clock, we were there on time and recived our starting numbers and a bag of things, that included a package of biscuits and an map of the route around Stockholm that we were going to ride. After some talking with the other riders it was time for the traditional photography. Every rider had their photo taken for the start gallery and to document the clothes and the bicycle. There was 166 riders so it took a while to take all photos and register all of us. Then there was the adventure of trying to make room for all vintage bicycles, curious tourists and ourselves on the old square. It was a challenge, but it was fun! Many curious people came forward to take photos and ask what we were doing while we were having a cup of tea and a biscuit.

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Tourists and curious bystanders are looking on our clothes and bicycles

Between all photos, the tea and biscuits we were having in the sun, we talked with other tweed riders and had a really great time. Suddenly the church bells announced that the clock was 12’a clock and it was time for start. Bike in Tweed 2016 was on its way! Laughs, cheers and good luck wishes from tourists and bystanders followed us all along the way to the starting point next to the royal castle where we formed a slightly chaotic starting grid.  Then the signal came from the leader, we were off for a 20 kilometres ride around the city of Stockholm.

Along the way, the group with all 166 riders was very scattered and formed many small groups. Due to the sheer amount of riders it was impossible to keep a tight formation during the ride. Red lights on the streets, cars and buses scattered us all, so we were in groups of 10-20 riders instead of an united group. Fortunate there were some planned round up places for us to all get back together as a unit during the course, that was necessary and was a good move by the designer of the route.

After rounding all up, we continued our ride and headed to the open air theatre at the “Rålambshovs” park and the picnic we always have there. The break was really needed, after all. It is very hot to ride up and down the hills and bridges of Stockholm with a heavy three piece tweed suit from Harris Tweed. While wearing a hat.

The cucumber sandwiches and lemonade that the events sponsor Hendricks Gin offered tasted really great, it was just the bees knees for us tweed riders. Many riders had also their own food and drinks in typical baskets, some had wine and real china with them to eat on. Others, like me had some sandwiches wrapped in paper. Just as they use to do it in the olden days when having a picnic. My sandwiches were made by slices of Skogaholms loaf, that is an classic. Of course topped with the equally classic “cognacsmedwurst” sausage. Every child have had those sandwiches on field days since 1945. Instead of the bottle of milk we has as kids, I brought along a bottle of beer. It was just perfect for the Bike in Tweed picnic.

At that time we also were having our group photography taken. Every rider was standing by their bicycle and an photo was taken of us all as an memory. We were also taking photos on each other, our clothes and bicycles, all the lovely hair creations and all great tweed suits. So many photos!

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Time for the group photo

Then we were off again! Out and around the streets, out into the traffic, up steep hills, trying not to crash into each others when  taking narrow corners in construction zones. All 166 of us together on bicycles had to get along with with cars, pedestrians and everyday cyclists. There was some talk about the unfortunate choice of route for the event. Many walkways we took was very narrow and steep. This year I was riding a single bicycle, not a tandem. For me it was very easy to get around the course. But I felt sorry for those brave tandem captains and stokers. The captains trying to manoeuvre those heavy battle cruisers true the narrow nooks and crannies of walkways between roadworks and hedges. It puts the captain to test with navigate and planning the ride.

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Narrow and tricky rout challenged the riders

Then we all arrived at the end destination, the goal of Bike in Tweed 2016 event. The finish line was located this year at Armémuseet (Military museum). They let us use their courtyard as a collection point, but also so we could have a price ceremony. There were speeches about the day and prices were given to best dressed gentleman and lady, the best looking bicycle. A special price went to the gentleman who joined the race in a bicycle car that was built after drawings from the -40´s. Hendricks Gin, the sponsor, treated us with Gin and tonic after we all had made it to the finish line. Later on during the price ceremony Hendricks Gin had an special award for the most unusual rider.

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Just before the price ceremony there was live music, we all sang along and had fun.

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Hendricks Gin and sandwiches.

After mingle and talking with everyone many of us had signed up to join the after party with dinner at Hasselbacken restaurant out on the island of  Djurgården. It is a famous old restaurant where we had a stop last year. We arrived there 30 minutes later on our bicycles and parked them on the grass and sat down at our tables, looking at all vintage bicycles standing under the trees. The evening followed with drinks, food and laughs.

Later that evening we had to ride our bicycles home. 14 hours after I mounted my bicycle and left for the breakfast, I was back home again and parked the bicycle in the storage.

It was a great day, all I can say is:
See you all next year!

Malmö Tweed Ride 2016

Welcome back dear reader! How has your summer been? Way to hot when using tweed I guess. Perhaps even to hot for riding an old bicycle with no gears and wobbly wheels? But now when the weather are cooler and the autumn is around the corner it is time to take the old tweed suit out in the fresh air.

Different unplanned things happened this summer, but other things did not happen as planned. For example my bicycle projects I mentioned earlier did not happen. The Monark racer is still standing in a corner collection dust, the black Hermes frame and all the belonging parts is still in parts. The Pelago Path racer I built a few years back are about to be sold. The reasons for all those things are equally simple and silly.

First is the reason that I feel stressed out due to the lack of space for building and renovating old bicycles. Then there is that racer style bicycles is killing my back when riding them. I can simply not sit leaned forward on a bicycle for a long time. So why have bicycles around that I do not use? Better to sell them and save money to a bicycle that I can use without problem.

But to one thing that happened that was a fun event! Saturday the 3rd of September 2016 the 4th annual “Malmö Tweed Ride” was held. It is like the “Bike in Tweed” event in Stockholm, or like the “Tweed Run” in London. It is a gathering of people that loves old bicycles, tweed clothes and likes to dress up. I was there with my old Hermes from 1956.

We all gathered at Gustav Adolfs torg (square) in central parts of Malmö around noon. I was there and noticed many tweed riders joined from all streets leading up to the square. The weather was perfect for us, cloudy with a bit of sun from time to time.  When the time was 13:00 the announcer greeted us welcome, it was time to register and each rider would receive a pin. It was a pin that shows that you were a participant of the race this year. Well, race is perhaps the wrong word, a run or parade, perhaps even an show and gathering while riding mostly vintage bicycles in a calm speed across the town is more accurate. So we all could enjoy the surroundings and all the lovely bicycles in the parade.

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2016 Malmö Tweed Ride pin on a tweed suit lapel

After receiving our pins, we all formed a starting line and we left Gustav Adolfs torg for a ride along the old city of Malmö. People cheered and waved to us along the streets. Many was happy and asked us what it was all about, old persons talked about how they used to have an bicycle, just like the ones we were riding, when they where young. With a smile and a nostalgic look on their faces they watched us making noises with our bells and horns along the way.

The ride went around Malmö for a while before we had a stop at Västra hamnen (West harbour) where the old mechanical warehouses was located and was nod demolished for new buildings and developments. It was a large place at the water front where the sponsor Hendricks gin served us lemonade and cucumber sandwiches. Tasteful and refreshing in the last of the summer sun rays! There was music during the rest, an gentleman played jazz records on a old gramophone, complete with funnel and crank. It was really nice to sit and listen to old crackling 75 rpm records and drinking lemonade.

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A good selection of music played on a real gramophone

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Time to start again

After the break there was time for the group photo, we all were directed to sit in a group on the board walk. After the photographers was happy we all went for our bicycles again and started the final leg of the run. The path we tool led us down to the sea side and the new land mark in Malmö, the “turning torso” tower, it is an apartment house with 54 floors. Impressive and we where riding just at its base and entrance. Then we took the roads back to the central parts of Malmö where we all ended up in Folkets park “the peoples park”, it is the oldest peoples park in Sweden. It was founded over 120 years ago.

When arriving there we all received a drink ticket from Hendricks gin, non-alcoholic alternative were available to! Then it was mingle and chatting with all the participants. We all sat on the dance floor in old furnitures and listened to Svempas Swinging Trio, an jazz trio that played old standards in a really refreshing way. Lots of energy and joy! There was a small vegetarian buffet that was really nice after the long ride we just finished.

After the food and mingle it was time for the prize ceremony. Best dressed lady, best dressed gentleman and the best looking bicycle. Hendricks gin had also the special prize “the most unusual award”. It was a great evening and an perfect ending to a fun and nice day in Malmö. Friendly people and an great atmosphere an flawless organisation and arrangement! Good briefing of the guidelines and that there was an bicycle repairman in the parade, but most important an medic that was scanning the parade all the time. In short it was a great event!

I lift my cap for you and we will see you all next year!

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A ride in the snow

Today I took a ride on the Pelago that I have, the one with three gears. It was such a nice weather this morning. The sun was shining, only a few degrees below zero, birds was singing. A lovely day for sure! I took a ride to the place where I always take photos of my bicycles just for fun, adding a winter photo to the collection. I am leaning the bicycle against the same tree every time I am there and takes a photo. Just for fun. A sad note is that I will most likely sell the Pelago to a friend, he want to buy a good bicycle that will last him many years. He has currently an old Swedish army bicycle that he never uses. Because it is so heavy to use, with no gears and a frame that are made of solid iron (it feels like that anyway). The tires comes straight from an old tractor or somethi9ng like that. I mentioned to him that I have this black Pelago bicycle and I am not really to happy with the gearing (I am used to only one gear and finds 3 gears a bit to much, “less is more” so to speak). Perhaps I will take his army bicycle and fix it up to original condition. It would be a fun project. We will see how it all turns out.

As I was sliding along in the snow I was thinking of the fact that tomorrow is new years eve!
Then the year 2014 is over and we are entering 2015, a new year!

It feels strange in a way. After all, it was only a few weeks ago I mentioned “Bike in Tweed”, right? It can not be a whole year ago?! Anyway, a year ago I was going on about how I really wanted to be a part of the Bike in Tweed event next year (this year 2014). How I got an tandem bicycle and everything around that bicycle with my attempt to fix it up. Only so I could enter the tweed event. Then got other bicycles that I was also fixing up in time for the tweed event. But due to some odd planning I could never join the tweed event.
I remember the disappointment I felt when I realized that it all went down the drain with my planning.

But soon, really soon it will be 2015 and I will make a new attempt to join the tweed dressed people in a bicycle ride around Stockholm. This time I will not make any promises. But I can say that I will really try the hardest to be there next year!

Since of the renovating of “lady blue” last winter and the tandem bicycle this summer. I am currently having 2 more projects in the cellar that you have been reading about. It is the old Monark bicycle that I will build into a “ride-for-fun” bicycle. I will try to make it as good as possible, I realize that the style is not going to be typical like the 30-50’s era. But it will be a reliable racer with a very own style. Then I still have the Pelago frame with all parts that I have bought. I am trying to bring together to a retro path racer, also as you might have been reading about earlier. How that one will turn out, well that is a different question. All parts and so on is a quite a challenge to bring together. Or at least put it all together so it all fits in a good way.

I realize that I might have taken a chance with that project. But I will try to complete it as good as I can.  It will be an expensive and complicated learning experience. But fun! So far I have learned lots of things I did not know about bottom brackets and the different styles of taps, cranks and all those other things. Things you never think about when riding a new bicycle that you bought. Especially for me that in all times have been mending and fixing old bicycles that was made in the 40’s. The Pelago is brand new, using brand new components and techniques.

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I hope both projects will be completed until the “Bike in Tweed” event in September 2015. Then I have 4 or even 5 bicycles hanging around. The question is what bicycle I ride, but also who will ride the others. I hope that the blond girl would like to ride “Lady blue”, she said it would be fun. But she needs a tweed dress, in a weak moment of confusion. I said that I would help her to find a dress. But I have no clue of where to find a vintage tweed dress in her size. Or in any size of that matter. I know where she can find new made dresses in tweed. But they are not so much vintage looking. I will try to persuade her.
For my own appearance I am thinking of buying a new tweed suit, since I gave away my old one. For me personally the brand is not an difficult option. For me there is only Harris Tweed. The cloth is made in the Outer Hebrides islands just north of Scotland. The cloth are woven by the weavers in their homes and the cloth is then sent to the tailors that also are located in Scotland. I am thinking of having a dark colour tweed suit this time since I am using a grey herringbone tweed jacket almost everyday,  it might be a good idea to change colour sometimes. Beside a dark suit is usable in so many different settings so I think it is a good investment. Not only a fun thing for use at an bicycle race around the city once a year. But it is representable at party’s and other social events. After all, tweed never gets old or out of style.

Back at work I have talked to a bunch of people about the Bike in Tweed event that they would like to join it to with their own vintage bicycles. It sure would be a real treat if we all could join and experience that day. If that happens I will post a photo of us here, along with an report from the day. Bicycles, tweed, tea and sandwiches. But I hope that 2015 will have more fun events with bicycles and also having nice picnics. Packing up an old spirit stove, a can of beans, bacon, eggs, bread and make an English breakfast outside in the nature. Of course the enamel mug for tea is joining. Why not make it in to a photo shoot to? I think the blond girl would like that idea of a tweed picnic.

This year was not so bad out of bicycle view. I got much made on my own bicycles and I actually helped out a friend with his family’s bicycles. I repaired and adjusted them and did an general overlook of them. It was easy thing to fix, but it was also fun to work with bicycles. One of the ones I was adjusted was an old Swedish army bicycle from the 50’s same style as the one I mentioned earlier! All original and in a great shape. A great rider, made for riding thousands of miles on old gravel roads. I hope that the friend will join the tweed event 2015, or perhaps a picnic. After all there are so many advantages with an old bicycle, you get exercise and fresh air. Saving the environment and getting healthy at the same time. Noting bad with that really. When getting back home from my winter ride. I removed all the snow from the tires, rims and frame. I wiped off the water from the mud guards and pedals. Back in the basement, parking beside Lady Blue and the other bicycles. See you all next year!

Finally I wish all my readers a great 2015. I hope it will be filled with lots of nice rides and many great memories.

See you at #bikeintweed2015

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The winter is here

The winter came with snow and cold winds outside the basement. Of course you can ride your bike this time of year to, you only need to dress well and have good tires on the bicycle. For the really leather skinned bicyclists, this is no match, they might not even need winter cloths. Even I used to take the bicycle all over, all year around back in the olden days. But now days, when I am working far away. It is not really a good idea to ride a bike to work in the same way as back then. Besides I am bit older now.
But just because it is winter does not mean that everything stops regarding bicycles and ideas. No, quite the opposite in fact! Now is the time to repair, mend and fix the bicycles that have been used all summer. Bicycles that have been riding along cobblestone streets and now need to be readjusted and all screws that came loose needs to be tightened. Regarding projects I have my two path racer projects I need to build. They are just standing all deserted in the storage now.  One of them are The black Pelago racer, that are still in parts. Some parts are even missing and other parts are laying around in my closet and some parts can be found in drawers here and there. Why it still is in parts is rather simple. I have a few main issues with that project. One of them is that I want it to be, not only in perfect working order, but I want it to be in a perfect cosmetic way. The looks is important. For example, the frame is black so then the saddle must be black too. The details are in chrome. So the other parts and details must be in the same style of chrome, and so on. The cranks need to be in the correct style for me. After all, I have my vision of how it will look in the end. Also I really do not like to use cheep parts, since the other parts are in good quality and of a known brand it would be a shame to mix them all. I really would like parts that are genuine and solid. No flimsy plastic parts, but parts made of steel and iron! Since the wither is long so I have no rush in buying parts. I am looking for the right parts, at the right moment.

The other project I have going is the “rat-rod-path-racer” or what it should be called.
It started as an idea of an drop bar style bicycle all in metal finish as I mentioned in an earlier post. But that project will end up in a strange hybrid of all different styles. It has gone so far that I am thinking of keeping the original paint since it is has such nice decals and are not to abused. I need only to get rid of some brackets on the frame (the ones for the chain guard and the kick stand) as they are not needed any more and are only disturbing the lines of the frame design.

As I was trying to dismantle the old Monark bicycle, I found out that I did not have the correct tools for the job. So I was thinking that when removing the parts that are partly stuck and will be damaged while I am trying to remove them. I would try to get new parts, that will substitute the ones I will remove. Especially since they most likely will be totally unusable later on. For example, today I tried to take the rear hub into pieces for a clean and lubricate job. But one of the nuts must have been damaged or the thread on the axle it self was damaged. It was impossible to make the nut to move or even budge the slightest. In short, I need better tools for that work or I will damage the thread on the axle.
Strength and good tools is the key word!

But I managed to clean it up. That is an very good thing. Especially since the entire bicycle has dirt, grease and smudge on it since the end of 1950’s. For example I can mention the chain. It needed to be in a cleaning aid bath, soaking for an entire week before the grease even started to dissolve a little. It still got grease left on it after a week of cleaning agents and me scrubbing it with a brush!

The front fork is a bit unstable and are most likely in need of cleaning, lubrication and adjusted. But the special nut holding it all together have not been adjusted or loosened since the person who assembled the bicycle back in the days tightened it. It is stuck there like a rock, it will not move at all! But I will manage to loosen it and make it work with me, a big set of pliers and some brute force will sort that one.
Today I did a quick test assembly of the “white lightning”. It looks really good, it feels really comfortable to ride to! On the photo there is a headlight, I added it just for fun. Since I could not remove the bracket that are for the original headlight. So I decided to reuse it, I had the headlight from that old (new) Chinese bicycle I bought a long time ago. It is rather impressive item with its size and with the chicken head style knob on top. The knob has 3 settings and the headlight it self has 2 bulbs inside. Almost like an old moped. One bulb for position lights and one for headlights. I was thinking, since I do not want to use a dynamo to power the light I will try to build a battery compartment inside the headlight (it is large so an battery will easily fit inside the headlight). Then I can use the knob and use different light settings. That would be a nice effect and useful when riding at night. Sadly the mount for the bracket on the headlight itself are a bit weak and wobbly so I am not sure how it will work. In any case, let us find out!

The look of the bicycle with the handlebars, the headlight and the slim profile all together. It is really looking good! A fun project. I think I will keep the details as they are. It is a racer made to go fast and fearlessly. It has the signs to the the story.

The only question are, will it be accepted at Bike in Tweed 2015?

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