Music and Tweed

I bought a new record player.

Well, to be honest. It is not this years model, not even the last year model. In fact it is a Cremona Rex for those old 75rpm shellac records, perhaps made in the 1940’s. A record player that is discretely and conveniently placed in a suitcase for easier transport. Easy to travel with, or why not bring it along on a bicycle trip?


Cremona Rex, hand cranked shellac record player from the 1940’s.

Back then it was very common to travel around on a bicycle. For shorter travels the bicycle was an excellent transportation. Cheep to maintain, easy to handle and almost everyone had a bicycle. So why not take the bicycle and pedal out on the country side. Watch some cows, look at the horses and point at the farmers.

When stopping for a sandwich and a coffee in some green meadow. Instead of enjoying the scenery you can destroy the calm and ruin the sound of nature by cranking up the old record player and put on the latest noise and screams from the famous artists at the time of the 1930’s and 1940’s.


“Sonora”, the major Swedish record company in the day.


Singing in the rain, with Jack Hylton and his Orchestra.

While listening to all the hizzing, crackling and popping from the record player. Listeners are invited to dance and enjoying a good afternoon. But there is a slight disadvantages with the old 75rpm records.

Firstly, they are heavy! In fact, in Sweden they are even officially called “stone slates”.
Secondly, there is one song on one side and a different song on the other side. Two songs per record. So if you want to listen to 10 songs, you need 5 records.
Thirdly, comes the question is where to storage them when riding a bicycle. There is a small compartment in the record players lid.

Transportation is a serious issue and a huge disadvantage with these “stone slates”. Sadly they are not made of stone, instead they are made from shellac compounds that makes them extremely brittle and fragile. When transporting a bunch of shellac records there is a enormous risk of breaking some records. Not only by careless handling, but the sheer pressure by stacking many records on top of each other is a danger.


A small mishap while transportation resulted in a cracked record.


This is not portable in the way we are thinking by standards of today

Suddenly the afternoon tea dance is suddenly reduced from 10 songs, to perhaps 6 songs, or even 4 songs depending the storage ability. That is not much dancing before the afternoon tea room dance becomes rather boring.

Today there are much more sturdy things available on the market. For example there are blue-tooth connected speakers that are chargeable and can play music up to 15 hours straight. Connected to a smart-phone with a music service for example Spotify. You can play music for days without playing the same song twice.

It sure is a difference from the portable record player with its shellac records. In this case I can even say that there is no advantages with a manually, hand cranked old record player. Well there is one advantage, you get exercise while cranking up the spring that operates the turntable.


New meets old

I started the song “After you´ve gone” with Svend Asmussen on my iPhone, connected the blue-tooth speaker and listened to the quality and volume. I have the same song on a original shellac record. I compared the both recordings and sounds. The feeling of cranking up the record player by hand was fun. But you need to crank the turntable spring at least every two songs to maintain a good speed on the record. You need to check the stylus, is it good? Do it need to be replaced? After all, a stylus has a range of 20 plays before it becomes to blunt. The noise from the record made it almost impossible to hear the song at all.

But with the modern set-up. I can adjust the volume, change tone, skip songs and so on. If the devices are charged you have hours of music.


The modern set-up


Lucky me, I have a box of Original Decca styluses.

In conclusion. The Cremona Rex record player sure looks the part when starting to play shellac records. It is a fun thing to use. After all it is 95% show and 5% enjoyment.

Instead of the modern set-up. That is both easy to carry and simple to maintain. It is so much better to bring a water proof blue-tooth speaker to the afternoon tea dance in the meadow. After all, there is no need to change records every third minute. My Spotify list with jazz and dance music from the 1930’s and  1940’s plays for 24 hours straight.

That is a lot of dancing.

 

If you like to listen to my play list:

 

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London Tweed Run 2018

10th London Tweed Run was held on Saturday the 5th of May 2018.

The London event is an enormously popular event with about 1000 participants each year. It is said to be the original tweed cycling event like this. Since there are now so many people that want to ride their bicycles while dressed in their finest tweeds, it has become necessary to sell advance tickets to those who want to participate. The event is so popular that all the tickets completely sell out online in a matter of seconds. A few years ago the tickets were sold out in 90 seconds. This year it only took 4 minutes until all tickets were sold.

I have been wanting to join London Tweed Run for a few years just to have been there, but it was never possible and I never tried really hard. But this year it was the 10th anniversary, I decided to try to get hold of a ticket. After trying to access the site on-line I found out that all tickets were sold out again. But there was a message letting me know that – if I wanted to – I could join a waiting list in case of any tickets were available later. I signed up just for fun and did not think more of that.
Three weeks later, I got an email saying that there was one ticket available if I wanted it. I bought it without hesitation.


My hat and some refreshments before the flight to London

Now, the logistics needed to be solved. I booked a hotel. That was easy. But how should I get my bicycle to London from Stockholm? I looked up different companies that offered bicycle as luggage on air planes. But then the question remained, how should I get the bicycle in a huge box from the airport to the hotel? There must be a better way.

After some research I discovered a business called Tally-Ho Cycle Tours. After some email exchanges with Mr Harris there, I booked a black 28″ Pashley Roadster bicycle for me to collect on the actual day of the event.

The day came, I went down in the London underground and travelled the tube while dressed in tweed, listening to old jazz in my headphones just to get myself in the mood. I arrived early at Tally-Ho cycles and met Mr Harris, a very nice and kind man. He brought me my bicycle for the day, adjusted it so it would fit me. While I was At Tally-Ho, I saw others dressed in tweed, trying their rented bicycles.


Bicycles with baskets at Tally-Ho cycles


Pashely roadsters waiting to be a part of the Tweed Run

Since I was an international participant I needed to be early at the Tweed Run start area to receive my starting number and a welcome pack of documents with information about the ride. On my way to the start area that was located outside the Imperial War Museum, I spotted yet more tweed riders and also a group of ladies dressed in 1940’s style clothes, all heading towards the Imperial War Museum. I was not alone. It always feels better when seeing other ‘Tweedians’ when one is in a new place. It assures me that I am at the right location.


Being one among the first at the start


I met Francisco at the start

It has happened before, it will happen again. I was early, really early. I was among one of the first 10 people at location. The ladies I had noticed earlier were setting up distribution points to hand out the rider packages. I was in the right place.

There I was, standing in the park with my bicycle and reading a book in the lovely summer weather, waiting to collect my rider package. I met Francisco, a man from Portugal but living in Belgium that I had seen earlier at Tally-Ho Cycles. We chatted about the event and where we were from. As we were talking, Martin from Germany joined us along with his wife. Then Lisbeth and Stefan from Netherlands turned up. We were truly an international group, talking bicycles and tweed and just having fun.


The sun is coming out, it is going to be a lovely day


Tweed and bicycles


Marin and I are admiring his original -50’s Adler

That is the Tweed Run spirit: diverse people meeting and talking and having fun. Lisbeth, Stefan and Francisco had all been at a London Tweed Run before. But for Martin and me it was the first time, in fact it was to be Martin’s first tweed event.

As we talked, around us there were reporters conducting interviews and many other tweed riders talking bicycles and clothes.

Suddenly we heard the sound of loud horns and a man shouting. It was time to begin the 12 mile long bicycle ride around London. Almost 1000 riders peddling down the narrow roads. It was fun, I met many lovely people along the way.


Time for the start, around 1000 riders


Falcon enamel cups, tandem bicycle, picnic and a baby on board.


Westminster bridge with the parliament and a covered Elizabeth tower (Big Ben).


The marshals did an excellent work guiding us riders around London


Climbing the hill at The Waldorf hotel

We rode across Westminster Bridged and headed to Covent Garden and then along the streets up to Russell Square, just beside British Museum. Pedestrians were waving, smiles and happy faces accompanied by hundreds of bicycle bells chiming. But now it was time for a tea break!


Gentleman with a boater hat having a break


A happy girl, with a lovely outfit. The barre with feathers are simply adorable.


Russel square park and Tweed Run tea break


Dashing chaps


Style, elegance and a positive attitude. An example for us all


Interviews, this time by German reporters

It was a lovely break within a glorious setting. The green park, trees creating an idyllic location for this event. The tea wagon was pouring out tea in lovely cups. That is where I met the Norwegian Tweed Run delegation. We talked and had fun.


Tea in the park


More tweed chaps

After refreshing ourselves with the tea it was time to set off again. Now we headed towards the area of Marylebone and rode straight across London Zoo to enter Camden Town where we all rode along the tow-path beside the canal. Now, that was an adventure. Narrow, water one one side, pedestrians on the other. We were told to ride on a single file, not stopping to take photos. There was simply no room.


The adventures canal stretch. Lovely, but narrow

In fact, I was insulted by an elderly man who was annoyed by the appearance all the riders. Having chosen not to ride too close to the edge of the canal, I took a line a bit closer than normal to the bench where the old man was sitting.

“That’s right, cycle a bit closer you fat bastard” I head the man yell at me.

There was no time for stopping and talking to the man. Onwards!


Hair and matching bicycle


A marshal guiding us


I guess that France was represented on this event


Spring and pre-summer in London


Camden town by bicycle

After Camden we entered St: Pancras where we had a picnic at Gasholder park. There were food vendors nearby and a shop for drinks and simpler food further down the road. I was taking a rest when I meet Martin again, we all had been separated during the ride. We talked for a bit, he said that he was going to buy something to drink. I said that I could keep an eye on his vintage German made Alder bicycle while he went away.


Gasholder park, not so romantic picnic location

After a while he came back, he had bought along a sandwich, water and some crisps for us to eat. That was very kind of him. I thanked him deeply. Then we sat there and talked in German in London at an tweed event. That is what makes happy memories!

We later met Lisbeth and Stefan again, but sadly lost track of Francisco. Suddenly we heard a loud cheer! It was then we realized that there had been a group photo opportunity. We and many other riders were still standing in the shade of the gas clocks when they took the photo. It was a pity that there was no better information about the time for the photo.


Time for the final section of the Tweed Run before the finish

Then it was time to make our way again. Bicycle bells were chiming, horns hooting and people cheering. Time for the final leg of the ride. Up and down the hills of Clerkenwell, where Martin and I joined up for the rest of the journey. We laughed and had a great time. Suddenly we were at the finish line at Spa Fields Park. I parked my bicycle and almost directly found Mr Harris from Tally-Ho, they were collecting their bicycles from there as a service for those who would like a gin and tonic at the party.


Finish line at Bourne & Hollingsworth at Spa Fields park in Clerkenwell


Now that is the image of an English gentleman

Sadly I needed to go, I was about to meet a long time friend later that evening. After all it was my first time in London for 17 years, we had much to catch up with and a long ride in front of us.

In the end, London Tweed Run was a great event. Happy, friendly great looking people. The use of official marshals who stood on corners and directed all of us was a great feature. Also the relaxed atmosphere with riders smiling and chatting with drivers of cars, buses and taxis. I would say that almost everyone adjusted to the situation.


Quite Brittish

I have been to many tweed rides. It was fun to experience the original one. How was it arranged, how they prepared the event and other small details. The only disadvantages I noticed was that the ride alongside the canal was too narrow for so many riders and perhaps, looking back, a mistake. Also, that so many riders were not aware that there was a group photo taking place along the route and missed being in it for posterity. Why didn’t they take the group photo at Imperial War Museum, like last year? That would have been calmer and easier to gather all participants on one photo.

Also the location of the lunch break at Gasholder Park was a bit odd. Seeing all these wonderfully attired people sitting on blankets directly on old concrete was not so charming. Only the marshals and other exclusive members got to sit on the grass at the Gasholder Park. If the lunch had instead been held along with the tea break at Russell Square, there would have been perfect scenery for this particularTweed Run.

Blankets on the grass, tea, sandwiches, tweed and bicycles. That would have been lovely!

Thank you for a long, lovely, unique day!

Cheers!

 

PS: I like to thank Mr Withers for all help along the way, before, during and after the event.

Stockholm Bike in tweed 2017

The time had come for Bike in Tweed 2017. Stockholm’s version of London’s Tweed Run.

I have always used vintage bicycles, I was more comfortable riding them than the modern mountain bikes and racers. In Denmark and Netherlands the upright riding position is more common than here in Sweden and that is how I like to ride a bicycle, upright. So I got to use the old bicycles, my fathers and grandfathers old Swedish made iron horses. I got to like them, they were easy to maintain and repair. Because I had been using tweed my whole life it was a natural step to combine the two. That is why it feels great to join tweed events like this. The best of two things.


We took a small break on our way in to the city, not every day bicycles of this style are seen in the city.

It has become tradition by now. We are some friends that meet at a local bakery at nine a clock in the morning for a small breakfast before we all take a ride in to central Stockholm and the start for the tweed event. This year the start was held at Evert Taubes terrace that is located on Riddarholmen right beside the old town. It has a wonderful view of one of Stockholm’s most famous silhouettes, the town hall.

When we arrived at the start it was already busy with people. Everyone with old bicycles and dressed up. Ladies in lovely 1940’s dresses, gentlemen in dashing suits and hats. There were lots of familiar faces, we greeted and signed in at the register’s to recive your personal starting number. Then it was time for the photo shoot. Every one that was in this event had their photo taken along with their bicycles. It is a great memory to have later on, many of the participants use Facebook so the photos makes great profile pictures. After all we are aware that people will take photos of us all the time anyway. Almost everyone cheers and applauds and takes photos when we rides along. It is a fun event!


Many riders had arrived early for the Bike in Tweed event


An participant of Enskede Tweed drank Enskede brewery porter.


Lovely shoes that matches the colours of the leaves.


A Stockholm made bicycle in front of Stockholm city hall

After the officials had some words of wisdom for us, it was time for the start. All 170 of us lined up and left Riddarholmen for a ride around central Stockholm. The officials had made a route this time that was 26 kilometres long. There were some pauses here and there and the traditional picnic at Rålambshov with the traditional group photo.


Rålambshovs outdoor theatre where the traditional picnic with lemonade and sandwiches are served.

After the picnic, it was an matter of more steep hills and narrow passages for us to conquer. But we managed it with laughs and a good portion of good spirit there are no problems. While we were riding we talked to other riders and people standing on the pavements asking what we were doing.

Me and my friends tried to ride along each other. But some times we drifted apart from each others, after a while we drifted back together. There was no contest to win anything. Just a Saturday bicycle ride around the city. 170 of us tweed dressed and riding vintage bicycles among cars, buses, lorries, joggers, baby strollers and curious people.


Valhallavaägen in autumn colours. 170 riders enjoying the lovely weather.

The finish line was located at restaurant Hasselbacken at Djurgården. We arrived and parked our bicycles and joined up for the events that was ahead of us. When entering the garden of the restaurant here was a jazz orchestra playing old songs, both international and Swedish jazz songs from the 1930’s and 40’s. We all got gin and tonic from Hendricks Gin to cool ourself. After all, tweed is a warm cloth especially after riding 26 kilometres on an bicycle from 1930´s without any gears among the hilly terrain that Stockholm offers. I understand they who uses gears. Understand, not accepting. Using gears are cheating, or is it?


Down hill. A Pelago rider are having fun and resting the legs a bit.

When we all was gathered there was a price ceremony. There was prices for best dressed gentleman and lady and their bicycles. Best dressed gentleman, best dressed lady and best dressed youngster. Not to forget the most unusual award by Hendricks Gin. They all deserved the prices! Applauds and cheers!


One of the winners, Most stylish Lady 2017

After the price ceremony it was time for the dinner. What a lovely and fun evening. We had a great time, lots of laughs and promises to meet again next year. Later in the evening all the top people within Bike in Tweed sat down at our table and we all chatted, tweed, bicycles all the night.

But sadly, everything comes to an end. So did this evening to. We took our bicycles from the parking and headed down to the ferry to get across Stockholm inlet or the Salt sea as it also is called. It is the gateway to Stockholm by sea. The ferry departs from Djurgården and arrives at the old town.


Heading home on the ferry.

After the ferry landed we said good night to other tweed riders and got up on our bicycles for the long ride home in the middle of the night. Until next time.

Happy tweed!

Uppsala Vintage Biking 2017

It was time for my 4th Tweed ride this year.

Uppsala Vintage Biking is a brand new event that was held for the first time this year. It was held at the same day as the festival Kulturnatten (Culture night) was held in the university town of Uppsala. I found out about this event early in 2017 and decided to participate juist for fun. In the summer an event was started on Facebook for Uppsala Vintage Biking, I signed up for it and paid a small starting fee.

The day for the event came, I took my lunch box with home made sandwiches and a beer (not home made), packed my bicycle bag and left home early in the morning for a ride to the commuter train station. These days you can take the commuter train all the way to Uppsala from Stockholm. It is just to add an extra fee to the regular travel card, simple and effective. For the first time I was going to take the bicycle on a train, I have never done that before. It was an experience.


Arrival of the commuter train to Uppsala

As soon as I stepped on to the train with my bicycle I bumped in to more bicycles already parked in the vestibule on the train. My first thought was “now this is just great, I can not stand here”. Then I noticed that it was old bicycles, really old bicycles. Vintage ones. Right beside them there was a gang dressed in tweed, just like me. “Hello”, they shouted. We recognized each others and I was invited to sit with them. Then we started to talk about tweed, bicycles and the new event we were going to. One hour later the train was in Uppsala, it was a quick and pleasant ride with nice company.


Exiting the train at Uppsala station, 5 tweed dressed bicyclists started their journey.

We all gathered at the old docking bay at the old Nymans bicycle manufacturing plant, a classical bicycle maker in Uppsala. There the organizers greeted us, they handed out our starting numbers and some information about the route. They also gave us rain capes in case of rain. During the time we registered other tweed riders joined us. We all talked and had fun for a while before it was time to start the ride. The route was planned not only by the streets of Uppsala, but also the rides route was in the nature and wonderful parkways.


Lovely scenery in a old tree alley passage.


A slow ride along green hedges and grass lawns.

There was a break in Botaniska trädgården (Botanical garden) with a group photo of the riders and picnic on the schedule. Now this was a really impressive picnic break. They had arranged two long tables for us to sit by under a big archway. There were a brass band playing old jazz songs when we arrived. We parked our bicycles and sat down at the tables. There we sat and had our food and drinks while listening to old jazz standards played live. It was a lovely and wonderful time! Sadly we needed to get on our way.


Live jazz and picnic, great relaxation


Bicycles parked while we were at the picnic break


A Vintage Rider, with a lovely 1920’s dress and an Uppsala build Hermes bicycle

The ride continued up around the Uppsala castle were we had a small stop. Up there we admire the view and used the time to gather up all the riders. After a few minutes we went down the hills passing Uppsala cathedral and in to the central parts of the town. Because it was the culture night festival the streets were filled with people, stands, children, music and laughs. It was a real festival feeling in all of Uppsala. We got lots of cheers and liking from people when riding the streets and over the bridges with our vintage bicycles and everyone dressed in tweed or vintage dresses.


View from Uppsala castle


Down to Uppsala cathedral

The next stop was when the entire Vintage Biking crew went in to Nymans museum to get a guided tour around the collections of bicycles, mopeds, motorcycles and boat engines.

After that guided tour we all went to the central shopping street for the finish and price ceremony. After thanking the organizers and saying good bye and promising to meet next time it was time to go home. I got company to the train by a fellow rider, she showed me the way to the railway station and there the long journey home began.

It was a excellent event! I lift my hat for the organizer! Lovely, fun and heart warming!

Thank you, see you all next year?

Why do I like Torpedo

First of all, I must say that I am not in any way a repair person. I am not educated or even pretending to know what I am doing. I would never try this on anyone else bicycle. Simply because I have no idea what I am doing.

For me the Torpedo bicycle hub made by Fichtel & Sachs is a great invention. During my years mending, fixing and trying to repair old bicycles I have come by a few different hubs. Winco, Novo and other hubs. But none has the simplicity and quality as the Torpedo hub. Now I am talking about the standard version that has only one gear and a break and coaster. That means the wheel turns and the pedal are still. It is made in the spirit of my way of thinking, “less is more”.


Torpedo hub shell made in 1957

There is no need for gears and special functions that are impossible to figure out. Like the Norwegian DBS I had as a young teenager. Two gears, you shifted by quickly pedal backwards and the forward again. Or the 10 speed racer I once had. The chain skipped tooth’s on the sprocket so many times, causing pain and frustration that I looked for a single speed geared bicycle after a crash with the 10 speed racer one day.  Then we have the gearing system that the German bicycle Adler has, an entire gearbox just as a car mounted in the crankshaft and a stick shift. Give me Torpedo any day.

When using bicycles that was made back in mid 1930’s, the chance is that the bicycle never have been serviced since 1950’s. Back then a bicycle was an investment, not a toy. Kids got their bicycles that was way to big for them. but they had them to “grow in to”. So here we are with an old bicycle. It is my old/new Nordstjärnan that almost never have been serviced since the last 50 years. With a rear hub that I bought on eBay in Germany and build the wheel my self.

This morning I decided to take a test run with the Norstjärnan just to see if it would manage a Tweed event. After all, on these events we use to ride for about 19 miles (30 kilometres). Having problems with a bicycle along that ride is not a good idea, there is one thing worse than riding a broken bicycle. That is manage a  broken bicycle while walking. So the test today was simply to see if everything was in good shape. After the ride I found some issues that I need to address before an longer ride. It is nothing major, merely small, easy things like a rattling headlight, rattling bars to the rear mud guard and the Torpedo hub that behaves oddly when coasting. It works great, but not perfect. That is the danger of making things yourself. Why settle for great when it can be perfect?


Torpedo hub from 1937, bought from eBay Germany that I serviced and laced the wheel.

The only adjustment that takes longer than 5 minutes is the Torpedo hub. With a few tools you can disassembly the entire hub, clean it and put it all together again so it works! The usage and worn parts are easily located, simply by looking at the parts. The brake cylinder has grooves on it, if the grooves are worn, well the the break is not good and trying to stop is an adventure. I know that by experience. That goes for the ball bearings to, you can see if they are good or need replacements. It is a simple sign if the parts are broken or shows sign of ware and tear.

To disassembly the Torpedo hub is really easy. First loosen the wheel from the bicycle. Then with some tools loosen the lock nut by holding the axle with the special key. There is a special key made by Torpedo that are perfect for that work, of course I have one of those keys. Then gently take the entire hub apart, put all the parts on a towel clean all parts and clean off all old grease.


The parts of a Torpedo hub, axle, brake cylinder and att the bottom left, the special key


All parts have the F&S and the dimensions stamped on it.

I use a degreaser agent to get all old grease and dirt removed from the parts. Some times the parts have to be soaked in the cleaning agent for a  few hours. Then with a brush, an old toothbrush works great, brush off the sticky residues. Clean all parts with a cloth and inspect all parts for damages. Any crooked axle, damaged bearings and so on. If all looks all right, lubricate it generously and mount it all in the correct order again.


The repaired hub, mounted and newly greased. Ready for long rides.

Tighten the hub by adjusting the brake leaver cone. I use to tighten the assembly so it is just a small amount friction, then loose up it ever so slightly. Because when you tighten the lock nut it tighten the assembly altogether. There you have it a perfect fixed hub and a wheel that spins without wobbling, rattling or any play.

Now the Nordstjärnan is ready for many miles of tweed rides.