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?

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Malmö Tweed Ride 2017

I made a new years resolution this year. It had nothing to stop smoking or joining an exercise group. No, I said that year 2017 is the year when I will try to attend to as many vintage tweed rides as possible.

With my work in mind I started to plan what events that would be possible for me to attend. I figure out that I could attend 5 different rides. Only a matter of planning and trying to figure out the logistic problems with the bicycle. Trains is not an option any more since they do not allow bicycles on inter city trains any more. But with some bribing and threatening I got help with transportation of my bicycle. My plans started to work out. Earlier I have attended the Winter Tweed Run in Helsinki. I also held my own Enskede Tweed Ride, I never made any big deal of it. It was just for fun.

But the 2nd of September 2017 was the date for the 5 years jubilee of Malmö Tweed Ride. I was there with my bicycle 2016 and decided to join one more time. This year I got company of 2 more tweed bicyclists, it was my brother and a co-worker that has been hooked by the tweed bug. We all decided to join the Malmö Tweed Ride and ride our vintage bicycles for just fun.


The registration and handing out participant pins at Gustav Adolfs torg

After signing up and paying the entry fee before the summer, we really looked forward to the event. Dressed in my grey tweed suit and with the ticket for the event in my pocket we arrived at the start at Gustav Adolfs torg in central Malmö.The event started 1300 with signing in and receiving a pin. Every year the organizers have made pins for the participants. This year it was 5 years jubilee. I am afraid to say that comparing to the last year, this year was a bit of let down. The bin has looked the same for 4 years, a nice metal pin of high quality. But this year it was a bit cheap pin, larger and plastic. Many of the riders I talked to was feeling the same.


On the left is the pin from and on the left is the pin from 2017

After a speech from the organizer, or perhaps he was not one of the organizers? Anyway, he wished us all welcome and informed that it all was about to start. He mentioned a leader that would show the way for us all. They had planed a route that went around Malmö, the city, suburbs, sea side. A few minutes later the riders started to ring their bicycle bells and we were on our way.


On our way along the streets of Malmö

At the half way mark there was a planned stop with refreshments. Cucumber sandwiches and lemonade served to the tunes of old jazz played on 75 rpm records. It was really tasty and nice to chat with other tweed riders. It was there the group photo was taken. All 150 of us got together and got photographed, we all took photos of each other too. After all, we had dressed up and was looking smashing!


Cucumber sandwiches and lemonade


The photographer is being photographed while taking a photograph of a lady in a lovely dress

After the break it was time to ride along more streets and bicycle lanes towards the finish line at Pildamsparken in central parts of Malmö. There we all was served some food and drinks. Hendricks Gin and Eriksberg beer was the sponsors and we all was handed a gin and tonic for appetizer and a beer with the food. Of course there was non-alcoholic options for those who wanted that. The drinks was needed, it was hot and we all had been bicycling a long way. A well made drink taste better after riding a bicycle and being dressed in a three piece tweed suit.


The band from Germany played great version of jazz standards

A small band played some songs and made the dinner outside really pleasant. We talked and laughed a lot during the dinner. After a while there was time for voting and handing out prizes. The prize categories were, best dressed gentleman, best dressed lady and best looking bicycle.


Tweed riders at Margaretapaviljongen, having a chat and admiring bicycles and tweeds.

We were not there to win, but to participate, (said the man who did not win). Later that night three gentlemen dressed in tweed suits left the park in style for a calm bicycle ride back to our hotels.

Thank you all for a great event!

The black bicycle, part 1

I have mentioned the black bicycle many times before. So many times by now that it has almost become a mythical story. But this time I will tell you the story behind it and my intentions with a black bicycle.

It all started when I was a kid. There were always bicycles all around me when I grew up. I grew up in the same house as my father grew up in when he was a kid. Back then in the late 1940’s bicycles was the main transport for short distances. My fathers parents was always riding their bicycles around the city and surroundings of Stockholm. My grandfather was a special keen bicyclist from an early age when he lived in the country side.

He used his bicycle every day going to his work. No matter weather, no matter season. In the heat of summer or the freezing cold winter with up to 1 meter snow. The entire family was riding bicycles all the time. So it was only logical that I grew up with old bicycles around me.


I have always been using vintage bicycles. Here I am in about 1986 about to ride bicycle from about 1940.

Back in the early 1980’s my mother used an old U-frame bicycle, or “ladies bicycle” as they are called in Sweden. She had painted it blue with a brush of some reason and used it every day to the grocery shop and to her work. It was standing outside in a bicycle rack day and night where we used to live. One day my mother discovered that it had been stolen during one night. But that was no problem for her, she got a different similar bicycle, painted it blue and kept pedalling on.

My father had an old bicycle that he had got from my grandfather. It looked different from the other bicycles I was used to see. It was all worn and the black paint was scuffed. I liked it a lot, it looked cool. I remember that there was a name plate that was mounted on the frame with a previous owners name and address. Why I remember that plate so specific is because that plate left an imprint on my thigh more than once when I was a kid, I was sitting on the frame when my father gave me a ride sometimes. Now, why I did not use the rear luggage rack? Simple, it was impossible to sit on. It was the style of rack made of flat irons, typical style in the 1930’s. To sit on flat irons was really painful when getting a ride, even for a little kid. But all those details, the bell, handles, pedals, name plate on the bicycle. They all stuck in my mind.

One of my first adult bicycles was an 1940’s Monark. Or, something like that. It was put together of all sorts of strange parts laying around. Sadly I was very reckless with it so it broke down and got replaced. But I liked the upright seating position when riding that old bicycle. Upright, looking around at the world when cruising along the asphalt on a old iron horse at an slow pace.

After a few years my father saved some money and bought two brand new bicycles for him and my mother. 10 geared racers with thin tires on shiny wheels with silver frames. The old bicycles were left alone in the basement. Some years later we moved away from the house, the black bicycle and some other old bicycles where left behind.


My fathers “new” shiny racer, slightly modified back in the 1990’s.

I never forgot that old black 1930’s old grandfather bicycle. A few years ago I got thinking of getting me an old bicycle. A black 1930’s bicycle! With the one my father used to have on my mind, I started to look for parts to build me a bicycle. Why build instead of buying a complete one?

That is easy. I wanted to work with my hands. An decision I have regretted over and over again along my bicycle adventures.

 

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.

 

Why Harris Tweed?

Now days it is popular to organize tweed rides with the London Tweed Run as an example. All sorts of historical societies, groups and clubs organizes an tweed ride, run or social meeting in almost every town. It is fun, cheap and easy to organize. Bicycles are easy to carry around if needed, you can not carry a car and park it on the side walk at an café. Well you can, but it is frowned up on by many of the pedestrians that would like to use the side walk.

After riding vintage bicycles and attending all sorts of events for some years now. I realized that I was never quite out of style.  Because I have been riding vintage bicycles while using tweed since I was a teenager. Well not all the time. I was not using tweed in the summer when the heat was really demanding or when we were swimming in the sea during school breaks.

My first experience with tweed was my fathers old coat that was hanging on a hanger in the closet in attic. It was a Harris Tweed brown herringbone coat that he bought back in the late 1960’s at the famous Stockholm department store NK (Nordic Company).

By accident he bought the coat in the wrong size, it was just ever so slightly to small. Instead of returning the coat to the shop after you realized the mistake as you normally do. He kept it in an closet in the attic for many years. There it was left along with other clothes that he also bought in the wrong size some reason.

The coat was hanging there until the early 1980’s. That was when we did were looking after old things in closets to get rid off. My father found the old tweed coat, he asked me if I would like to have it. The coat was double breasted, 3/4 long coat and had an “Napoleonic ” style collar top fashion in late 1960’s. Because it was made of heavy tweed it was really warm, perfect for long winter days. My father remembering the fabric as “extremely sticky”, but I really liked it.

I never wore it to school. After all, the fashion amongst kids back then was jeans, sport trainer trousers, sneakers (white of course) and white tube socks. Anyone who came dressed in anything else was a open target for bullying. So I was only using the coat on my spare time.

There I was, dressed in fathers tweed. Beside an coat was better than a jacket when its cold, it keeps the behind warm. There were other cloths in the closet that I could use, shirts, sweaters. Sometimes when we were going to my grandparents I had his old ties and even dabbed on some of his old 1960’s after shave that I found in an cupboard in the basement. Sounds strange perhaps, but I guarantee that it was better with tweed, shirt and a tie than jeans and t-shirts. My mother always sighed and said that it was impossible to by clothes to me. I have no idea what she was talking about.

After all, I was quite fashionable back then. Almost straight from the 60’s. Sadly there are no photos from that era, it would be fun to see today how I looked in my outfit. Surely like no other kid in the middle of 1980’s. I would be beyond hip if I dressed like that in school today.

In the end, where did the Harris Tweed coat go? Te honest I do not remember, perhaps it was damaged in a house move at some point. Or perhaps it was decided to be thrown away at some stage. Only the label and the buttons exists today.


The buttons and the lable form my fathers old coat

Why did I got stuck in Harris Tweed? I guess there is three main reasons for that. First it was the coat mentioned above.

Secondly, when I was in school I met a teacher that was very special. He played chess, talked philosophy with us kids in a way no other teacher talked to us. We were equals, not kids to him. I remember that he had a photo of William Golding on the classroom wall and often quoted the book “Lord of the Flies” to us kids. Always when I saw him he wore an grey herringbone Harris Tweed jacket with dark elbow patches. He looked like an actor from an English TV-play, inspector Morse perhaps, Frost or any other of all these series. That teacher was the best one I ever had in school. I decided that I would have a jacket like that just because of him.

Thirdly, when we had lessons in school and I saw photos from Scotland. I fell in love with the nature of the highlands, the rugged landscape. I fell in love with the images you can see of the Hebrides. The sea and sunsets, it was then I decided that one day I should travel and visit the Harris Tweed factory.

But the years went by until one day a few years ago when I was looking around the internet for a new jacket. I found a web site of a small shop in Scotland that sells Harris Tweed clothing. I found a grey herringbone jacket, remembering my old teacher from school. I placed the order and a week later an package from Scotland arrived. It was just what I expected, heavy, strong, warm and great looking. But sadly without elbow patches.


Grey herringbone Harris Tweed, the same style of jacket my chess playing teacher used

Later when I started joining different vintage bicycle events I needed a suit. A suit in tweed naturally. My very first Tweed suit was bought on location while an vacation in Edinburgh. I visited an retailer on a Queens street and bought a three piece suite that I will write about in the future. It was an adventure from the start.

The following year I saved up some money and bought a genuine Harris Tweed suite from the small shop up in the highlands. The Harris Tweed suit I received is made to travel around the world on a bicycle! It is so well made and the fabric is marvellous, all the colours and the lining with the symbol of Harris Tweed embroidered. Details everywhere.


The Iain Harris Tweed suit, quality in every way

It is easy to understand why tweed has been so appreciated. It is reliable, warm, and looks amazing. It is a shame that I do not still have my fathers old tweed coat, but it got me in to tweed. Perhaps it is the destiny of some sort.


A lovely lady jacket in Harris Tweed, but the jacket is sewn by a different company

But the great feeling attending all sorts of vintage bicycle events dressed in tweed. Meeting other people that also dressed up enjoying the event. It is fun, not only for me but for the others. Look and admire each others outfits and bicycles. Perhaps there even is someone else among the riders that got to use their parents old Tweed suit, jacket or coat.

After all, tweed is a fabric that is almost impossible to wear out.