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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Winter Tweed Run Helsinki 2017

February 19th was the date set for 2017 version of Winter Tweed Run Helsinki that is held in Finland’s capitol. The meet up for the event was at Senaatintori (the senate square) in central Helsinki, an perfect place to meet. We all had hoped for a sunny day with lots of snow and a at least -20 degrees Celsius bone chilling Nordic winter. But sadly it was +3 degrees and light rain with an heavy overcast instead. This year the weather was more of an dull October day rather than a day in February.

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My Swedish Hermes from 1956 parked on Senaatintori

When I arrived at the square round about noon, I noticed a group of bicyclists standing in front of the stairs leading up to Helsingin tuomiokirkko (Helsinki cathedral). I joined them, after all, they were standing there with vintage bicycles and dressed in tweed. I guessed they were participants of the tweed run. Right away we started to have a chat and I noticed the kindness and friendliness of the riders. Even if we all was trying to make conversations mixed in Swedish, English, Finish all added with home made sign language. More and more riders with their great looking clothes and nice bicycles arrived and joined us. Both modern and vintage bicycles of all styles and models, Swedish, Finish, Indian(?). It was a great mix of everything. Lots and lots of photos were taken, by ourselves and others. Even tourists came up to us and wanted to know more what we were up to looking as we did. It was an relaxed and happy feeling in the light rain on the square.

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The meeting in front of Helsingin tuomiokirkko

Soon the organizers joined us. Sadly I never got their names, but they were very kind and helpful in every way. They welcomed us all individually, shook our hands and gave us stickers as an gift with the events logo for this year. We also got information about an race that is held in the summer of 2017 that looked very tempting to join. After a short while one of the organizers stood up on his bicycle and with a old megaphone and announced to us that we was welcome to the seventh annual Winter Tweed Run Helsinki! He explained that we would take the coastal route around the central part of Helsinki. But first of all we all should get up on the stairs to the cathedral and take a group photography. We took our bicycles and climbed the stairs trying to group ourself for a good and fun photo! One of the organizers used the megaphone and directed us, telling us to cheer seven times to celebrate the event. Sadly I do not have any group photo, but I am sure that it will be available on-line. Somewhere.

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Some of the people behind Winter Tweed Run Helsinki

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The style is a winner!

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I placed the sticker on the frame of my bicycle.

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“Welcome to Helsinki”

After the photo we all made us ready for the start. The direction was given and off we went. It is a fun thing when an race like this starts. Tourists stands still and looks amazed on this large group of bicyclists that are dressed in odd cloths. Not to mention the car drivers surprised looks when they sees about 30 riders in a group riding on the streets.

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Here we are just coming down the stares to for the start of the race.

The goal of the route was an café located on the shore on the other side of Helsinki. It is an regular route that they usually use for this event. It consists of bicycle lanes most of the time, the few times we crossed streets with traffic one of the organizers stopped the cars. Because we were riding in a relative tight formation the car drivers showed an great deal of understanding. After all, it is February and some strange people are riding bicycles, “better to let the bicycles pass…”.

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Crossing a street on our way to the coastal scenery bicycle path around Helsinki

The bicycle lane along the sea shore had lovely scenery of the sea and buildings on the other side. For me it was special, as one of my favourite films from Finland is Calamari Union made by Aki Kaurismäki. Along the ride we went by the area called Eira that is a famous place in that film. It was really great to be there and see it. We took the bicycle lanes further along the way to reach our destination, Café Regatta.

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There was a strong head wind sometimes, but for us that was no problem.

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Some of us stopped to take photos of the sea

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Wide and nice bicycle paths, even for an “lay-down-and-pedal-bicycle”

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More wonderful scenery and surprised bystanders.

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At the Regatta café.

Now we could sit by an open fire or enter the café for a semla pastry and a hot coco, of course with whipped cream on top! Excellent service and really tasty! On the outside we all could talk and admire the bicycles, special made ones, really vintage Crescents, old Hermes and different Finish brands. All sorts of modifications as wine bottle holders and cup holders for coffee that was isolated to keep the heat. The organizers had transport bicycles. One “long John” model that is build as an regular bicycle but has an large luggage rack between the handlebars and the front wheel. The other one was the more common three wheeled version with a large storage box in front. But the most impressive was the fellow dressed in tweed with a cap and an umbrella under his arm while riding all the way on a unicycle! That was truly an amazing sight to see.

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An 1920’s Crescent, all original.

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The details on the bell and worn wooden grips are amazing.

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Hot coco and a semla filled with whipped cream and strawberry jam, it was a real treat. Tasty and delicious.

At the café about half of the riders that started said good bye and left. For example the riders from Sweden needed to go back and catch the boat. After the break we all started again and left for the after party that was held in the northern parts of Helsinki. The road there was sometimes really steep but it was really a nice ride, forest roads and great nature. Suddenly one of the riders bicycle broke down. Everyone was trying to help out, but almost all of us only had tools for vintage bicycles, this was an modern bicycle. But they found a tool that did the job so we went on.

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“Get ready to start”. The megaphone has “speed race” written on it.

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An forest route was planned.

After a while riding of small paths, larger roads, bicycle paths that was covered with ice we arrived at our final destination. It was a club house, where a band should play later on that evening. But up to that point we were welcome to buy some pea and carrot soup, beer and also have a sauna. The kindness among the organizers (I really can not remember their names) was heart warming.

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Our final destination.

After eating some hot and freshly made pea and carrot soup served out of a huge pot, served with mustard. We were few riders that decided to leave this lovely event. I talked to the organizer and thanked him for a lovely day and lovely hospitality. I was so overwhelmed by all expressions, when saying good buy I mistook an honest hug for a odd handshake.
I am still ashamed for my awkwardness.

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The smile says it all, it was a good day.

Finally, my personal thoughts on Winter tweed run Helsinki 2017 are simple and straight forward. It was a great event with no rules more than just to have fun and having a great time. But if there will be an Helsinki tweed run 2018, I will plan it way better. Sauna, beer, bicycles and music, count me in.

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On the way back to Helsinki city

Kiitos paljon!

The mystery bicycle, part 1

Some weeks back I visited an bicycle shop in the central parts of Stockholm. I was looking for some old bicycles. I had been asked if I knew any old bicycles that some friends could use for the Bike in tweed event for next year, 2016. It seems that the Bike in Tweed event has become a huge success so more people wants to join. Since I like old bicycles and know were to look, I was asked to do some research for the friends.

This shop I visited is what I call a real bicycle repair shop. There is not a clean spot anywhere to be found. The smell of old grease and rubber from old tires hits you when entering. The workers got old grease up to their elbows, that is a sign of working and having an interest. There are some good shops for vintage bicycles in Stockholm, but this place is genuine as a shop used to be. Own by people that loves bicycles. There are bicycles everywhere, parts everywhere, bits and pieces all over the place. But they know every part of the shop. All things, pieces and tools are in the right place, in an odd but nice way. I had been there some time earlier and looked at their range of old bicycles. They had some really nice ones, mainly old Swedish brands standing in corners of the shop. They vintage ones was mixed with newer models, a really good selection for everyone.

As I mentioned in this post, I got an idea of building an bicycle by using the parts from my grandfathers bicycle. My idea was a black roadster, in a 1930s style. So I decided to visit the old shop again and ask them if they had an old bicycle for sale that I was looking for. I explained the style I was aiming for. I think I even said that I was looking for a project to work on and it was for the 2016 Bike in Tweed.
The fellow I was talking listened and understood what I was going for, he remembered that he had seen an project that might be suitable for me. “Follow me”, he said and walked in to the shops storage.

We walked in to the really small rooms in the back, there up on some water pipes hanging from the ceiling was an old frame laying covered in dust and spider web. He took it down and said that it was an old Swedish 28 inch wheel frame that might suit me as an project to build and develop. The frame had no name badge so it was a mystery what maker it was. It had screw holes on the head of the frame for a badge. I got a feeling of remembering the pattern of the screw holes from somewhere. But my memory was blank for the moment.
He asked me if I was interested of the frame. If I was, then they could look for more parts and also build the bicycle for me. Of course, I was really interested of the parts. But I said that I would like to build it myself. After all I have been repairing bicycles since I was a kid and I still think it is really fun to repair and fix old bicycles. I told them that I would come back a few weeks later so they could find the parts that was needed for the project in their own time.

At my next visit, they had found some mudguards that had the same colour scheme as the frame, black with gold trimming. But sadly no wheels. But, they had some rims that matched the mudguards and the frame. But there was no spokes or hubs. That is no problem for me, I had a rear hub from 1935 that was very common on Swedish bicycles in those days. Besides I have wanted to build a wheel for some time now. With the winter around the corner, it could be a fun lesson for me. Building wheels where 36 spokes need to be mounted in a special order and tighten so the wheel is true. It will be fun!

To day I collected the first batch of parts. I brought a big plastic bag and carried the parts home. Now comes the part that I really like, cleaning and making sure that the parts are in a good shape. De-greasing, cleaning and polishing all the parts. As I was unpacking all parts in my basement I remember the screw holes on the frame. Now I even remembered where I have been seeing the pattern before. It was the pattern of the Hermes badge that is on one of my other vintage bicycle. But with one difference, the pattern is for the older, 1930’s style badge. So now we know what brand it is, it is an Hermes made in the Swedish town of Uppsala. With that information, I can now focus on getting the correct parts for the build. I am thinking of documenting the build here on this blogg if you like?

I will most likely spend the winter in the basement building an 80 year old bicycle so why not write about it and take photos to? After all, it could be worse.

I could be sitting outside in the snow, building a 80 year bicycle.

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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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A sunny afternoon with Rex

It was a sunny Sunday afternoon here in Stockholm. Why not bring out a bicycle and take a trip around, enjoying the weather and cruise down the roads. Today I decided that it was the Rex Duplex tandem bicycle that was going to be used. Why not, after all. I have not used it so much since I made the renovation.

It is not in good shape, the paint is worn and the rear hub is close to being a write off. But with the parts I got to it a while back, it now looks like it was updated back then. The ornament on the front mudguard. It is not the original Rex lion, but a cool arrow. The front light and dynamo, handlebars grips and worn Brook saddles. It look used in a good way.

How about the handling? Well, it sure feels that the rear hub is totally worn. Breaks? The bicycle breaks like it turns. Like a battle ship in heavy sea. It takes time, when riding it you really need to plan ahead. The front break are only there for decoration! It only got 5% breaking!  Now the break handle is useless for anything except hurting your self. There are sharp corners and badly fitted parts in the handle. So my thought is that, since the break is useless in any case. Why not use the leaver I found on an different bicycle and use it as an “parking” break. A simple on-off lever. That would make more sense rather than having a front breaking handle that never works. I will sort that one out.

Starting and stopping is a thing that comes after a few trials. The simplest way so far I found out is that the front rider mounts first. Then the rear rider mounts, makes redy by putting a foot on the driving pedal, then pushes on and the bicycle starts moving the front rider starts to pedal too and there we go. Stopping is simplest by having one foot on the ground, the rear riders dismounts then the front rider dismounts. With some practice it get to be a good routine.

Going up hills are rough, but you can really get the bicycle going when two people pushes hard. The we have the adventure of going down hill. Well, let me put it like this, speed is not a problem. The breaks are!

But it is fun, people look and smiles. It is an eye catcher. About the Bike in Tweed event. There has been some updates and possible changes. Stay tuned. I will make a full report on that event with photos and lots of information later on.

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