Winter Tweed Run Helsinki 2019

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

The days before Saturday 23rd of February.

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


Just a small detour, passing Vanha kirkkopuisto before the start

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

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


Just arrived to the start area meeting other Winter tweeders


Bicycles and warm dressed ladies talking


The organizers cargo bicycles have arrived

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


That is a really cool space influenced bicycle

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


In front of Helsinki Cathedral

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


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


Passing the Silja Line ferry at the Olympia terminal


Heading down to Eira


Shore of Lapinlahti

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

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


Heading back to the ferry, sadly missing the party

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

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The winter project, part 2 (Fram bicycle)

What to do when Christmas season is getting close? Should I clean the flat? Buy a Christmas tree? Or even do the national sport of run around in shops, searching for last minute Christmas gifts while wrestling people?

This year I think I made the perfect choice. I simply went down to the basement for an relaxing session with my winter project. The Uppsala made Fram bicycle I mentioned in an earlier post. It was nice and calm to sit in the basement while listening to vintage music and repairing vintage bicycles, avoiding the ever present hysteria in the city.

Long ago I created a playlist called ‘Smoke rings‘ on the musical streaming service Spotify. That is an playlist with mostly European jazz, swing and dancehall music from 1930’s up to 1950’s. In short, perfect selection of music to get in the mood (see what I did there?) while servicing and repairing and old bicycles.


The Fram made in Uppsala about 1942 is now almost complete.


Brooks B66 saddle, rusty old ASEA headlight with cracked glass, I also found an original mudguard emblem at an auction.

First of all, the Fram bicycle needed a good cleaning after, what I suspect, being in a barn for the most part of the latest 50 years. Spider webs, dust, bird droppings, more dust, occasional insects, old mud, did I mention even more dust, was covering the entire bicycle. Off to the car wash with the entire bicycle. After degreasing, washing, shampooing, rinsing and a coat of wax later the Fram looks rather nice. Still rusty, but cleaner.


Old and used, but can still provide many happy miles of riding.

After returning the bicycle to my basement, I started to look it over, it was in a good original condition. I decided there was no need to dismount and grease all the bearings, they all seemed to be in working order. But of course, the front hub and rear hub with the brake will get an overhaul later in the spring. It is better to be safe than sorry, after all. The possibility to break is an overall good option to have. The cranks felt firm and had no strange sounds or odd feel to them when I turned them over. The same was for the pedals and front fork bearings. All bearings were surprisingly smooth and fine.

The worst rust damages on the entire bicycle was found on the handlebars and stem. The rust was caused by the chrome coating had flaked off many years ago and exposed the metal underneath. I looked in my old box of various parts. I knew that I had an old handlebar there, it is not the original shape. But I prefer the higher angle of handlebars rather than the original low ones. It makes the bicycle ride, a more gentlemanly way of promenade cycling. No laying double folded over the handlebars for racing or the sensation of speed. Sitting straight is the bees-knees.


Well worn 1940’s wooden grip

I had a pair of old wooden grips in a drawer. They were once painted silver. But after years of wear and tear, the paint had cracked. I sanded them down and oiled the wood for a more natural look instead. In the box of parts I also found the ASEA dynamo and the old cracked ASEA head light that I used on the £20 bicycle.

I also found a saddle in that bottomless box, sadly it was a fairly modern Brooks B66 saddle. But it fitted the overall look so I mounted it on the bicycle as well. The same went for the vintage saddle bags in canvas that I never got around to use. Mounted on the luggage rack, they fit the look perfectly as well.


The canvas bags looks like they were made for the bicycle. Not impossible, since the might be the same age.


Perhaps I will add an Stockholm license plate from the 1940’s to complete the look?

The idea I had for the Fram was to mount studded winter tires so I could use the bicycle when it is snowy and icy outside. A short ride in snow is no problem, store the bicycle in a warm place does the trick to prevent rust, or in this case. More rust, since the rims were already slightly rusty.


Fitting a studded winter tire to the front wheel, so far so good.

There is a few more dangers of using old bicycles, or bicycles in general when it is cold. The possibility for moist getting inside the rims and cranks are bigger on the winter when snow gets stuck on the bicycle. When the snow melts the water seeps inside the parts. If it is cold at night the water can freeze and transform to ice. Ice expands, so rims and other parts can crack. Not always, but it can happen. When a bicycle is in a worn condition like the Fram from 1940’s, I feel it unnecessary to chance.


When riding in snow it is important to storage the vintage bicycle in a warm place over night. Not leave it outside. On the photo, 1950’s Crescent left for weeks outside.

I mounted a winter tire on the front wheel and tried if it would fit in the fork, it all seemed to work out. But the rear wheel had some surprises in store for me. First of all, the rear wheel was slightly warped and wobbly. I can live with that. But the issue that made me rethink the decision to use winter tires, was that the wheel sits in an slight angle. Most likely because at some time in its earlier life the rear wheel meet a side walk curb or equal unforgiving edge. The rim is dented on a 5 centimetre long area, so much so that the spoke that holds that part of the rim has been bent and makes the wheel wobble and jump when turning.

Because of that, when I tried the wheel in the frame with the wider winter tire mounted, the tire got stuck against the frame. It did not matter how much I tried to adjust the wheel, sideways, up, down, forward, backwards. It always got stuck against the frame. Sadly I had to abandon the winter cycling plans and mounted narrower standard tires instead. Then it all worked just great.


As an example of an rusty rim: The front wheel of the £20 bicycle that was a complete wreck. The original rim tape that was made in cotton had soaked up water and created rust over the years. The Fram rims just had some surface rust, nothing dangerous but worth to keep an eye at. But the rust will be limited if not riding in the rain or winter so often.

In short, when the snow melts in the spring I will take the Fram bicycle for a test ride. Then I will decided if I will have a professional workshop to have a look at the rear wheel if it is possible to fix it, or not.

Let us hope that it rides as good as it looks.

Spring cleaning

It was a long winter!

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

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


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

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

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


A ride in the first days of spring

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

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


Just finished washing the 1956 Hermes at the petrol station.

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

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


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

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

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


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


Nordstjärnan in the sunlight