The autumn is here

Suddenly the autumn came here and pushed away the summer with force. It is no surprise since that happens every year at this time. The temperature becomes colder, the sun rays tries to give us the last warm feelings of a season that is going to be replaced. The leaves on the trees transforms from a healthy and summery green colour, just to take on all colours from yellow to red. Personally I like the autumn very much, it makes me calm in a way. The usage of a warm jacket, a scarf and gloves, it is nice to get inside after being out side. Have a cup of tea and some scones with marmalade. Watching the leaves falling to the ground, wile burning the tongue on scolding hot tea. That got it’s charm to.

Now, you have to put on a jacket and a scarf, bring a thermos with tea. Let us take a bicycle ride on the back roads in the autumn. It is a nice ride, filled with the fragrances of the forest. The rich and slightly cold air fills your nose and lungs. Why not stop for a moment and just listen to the nature, the wind in the trees and the quietness of the forest relaxing after the spring and summer. It is time to relax for everyone, charging our batteries for next season and summer. But before it is summer again, here in Sweden we will have a dark and long winter. Snow and very cold weather when it is hard, not impossible to ride a bicycle.

One good thing with the winter and all snow on the roads, is that you can sit in the basement and renovate old bicycles. Plenty of time to prepare them , and you, for the time when the roads are swept clean of the winter and the warm wind of the spring hits you in the face while pedalling along in the first fragile days of spring.

Next year there will be a Bike in Tweed event again here in Stockholm. In fact there will be several events all over the world. We have the original one, the classic the one and only, London Tweed Run that is by not world famous and had follow-ups all over the world. From the north to south, from east to west. Everyone brings out their fines bicycles and dresses up in tweed clothes. It has become an event that everyone loves. The riders enjoy every minute. The bystanders are happily surprised and cheers and take photos. It all started in London. I would love to join that one, but the chances are rather slim. The thing is that since it is so popular they would like to have a restricted number of participants, but also they need finances to rent/buy/pay everything surrounding the event. So they decided to sell tickets to be able to attend the bicycle event. Understandably it is very popular at the tickets sells out rather quick. I read that last year their tickets sold out in 90 seconds!
So I feel that my chances for booking a ticket is really small.

But there are bike and tweed events in other cites, the biggest may be London Tweed Run. One of the smallest might be the Oslo Tweed ride I heard of, 15 persons. But still, it is a bicycle meeting dressed in tweed.
I never know what to call the events, since the London version is called “Tweed run”. But I heard that Stockholm was not allowed to use that name so it became “Bike in Tweed” instead. In either case, it is bets to call them “tweed events”. I have done some research for possible tweed events that I could attend that might not be impossible. There are an total of 6 different tweed and bicycles events that I think I can possibly attend to. Sadly I guess that I can only attend to only 3 of those 6 events when thinking realistic. It is most due to the fact I need to work weekends often.

First up next year is the craisiest event of them all. It is located in Helsinki, Finland in February! They gathers in Helsinki and rides their bicycles in -20 degrees! That is no problem for me at all, I have done it before. Back in the school days when the bicycle was the only way to get around I used my bicycle all year around. But first I need to check with the Helsinki officials, if I am allowed to attend. After all it would be great fun to bring an old bicycle over there, dressed in a heavy jacket over the tweed suit. Twining rope around the tires for grip in the snow (not the best way to do it, but it is the way we did back then).

Then we have the London Tweed Run in April. But it, as mentioned earlier, might be difficult to catch a ticket. But it would be really, really fun to attend the original tweed event. Having a cup of tea in London dressed in tweed and riding a bicycle on the streets of London, why not? It was a few years since I was in London, perhaps this time it will be a odd and fun experience. I will at least try to get a ticket.

In May there is an really nice event in Oldenburg, Germany. To me that event seems to be really well organized and well thought of. A quick search on internet gives you photos and videos of many bicycle riders that really enjoys themselves and are having a great time.

Then there is 3 different tweed events in Sweden. There is the event in Gothenburg, Malmö and Stockholm. Lucky for me is that they are all held at different dates. It would be fun to attend them all. Just to be able to say that I was there. But time might be against me as mentioned earlier. It is a big shame that we are not allowed to bring yours bicycles on the inter city trains any more. It would been so easy to just simply ride the bicycle to the train, travel by train across the country, then ride to the event and attend. But today, that is impossible.
If I will attend any other “tweed run”/”bike in tweed” event, I will do a reportage about my experiences of course. Reportage complete with text and photos of course.

Next year, I will most likely not use the tandem bicycle again. There is a few reasons for that. First of all, it is easier to manoeuvre a single bicycle, also quicker and more effective in slow speeds. Second reason is that it is easier to carry a single bicycle (have you ever tried to carry a tandem bicycle up the stairs of an old museum)? It is also way more easier to just hook up a rack on the towing hook on a car and hang a bicycle on the rack if transporting the bicycle to places far away, like London for example.

Then we have the interesting question of what bicycle to use and the current bicycle situation for me.
I have an idea that might be a nice homage to my grandfather. He also loved to ride bicycles all the time, even in the winter so my father told me once. When I was a kid my grandfather had an old worn Swedish Rex bicycle that he was given from a neighbour. Later that bicycle was left to me. Sadly it was in a rather bad shape, so I removed some parts from it and scrapped the bicycle (it was before my interest of vintage bicycles started for real). The parts I removed from the frame is still laying in a box in my storage. In that box there is a bicycle pump with holders, an old bicycle bell that came from a friend of my grandparents, the bell must be from the 1920’s it has the loveliest chime. But the main item is the saddle, an old double spring saddle with a loop in the front, all worn and old. But it is an valuable memory from my grandfather.

So I was thinking of building a vintage bicycle as it would been back in the 1930’s that my grandfather could have used. An old Swedish made black roadster with a mudguard mascot, wooden grips on the handlebars, vintage reflectors, old headlight and my grandfathers old saddle. That would be a bicycle great for attending any tweed event with. Also with personal history and essence behind the build.
Currently I am searching for a good foundation bicycle to base my ideas upon. I have some ideas on where I can find a good bicycle. For example I know where there is a great late 1930’s frame in good condition for sale. But I need the other parts, but I will give it one more week to see if the ideas turns out good or not.
Of course I document the build. From the first moment until the finished result. This time I know what I need and want. The winter is long and cold, but first there is time to enjoy the autumn riding the old Hermes bicycle from 1950’s.



Bike in Tweed, 2015

Then the day came, it was time for the bicycle event again. Bike in Tweed in Stockholm 2015.

To get a good foundation and build up some energy for the long bicycle ride that was before us. We started with breakfast at an bakery in a sleepy suburb. There we meet up with our friends that also was entering the Bike in Tweed event with an old Rex tandem, just like the one we have. But in a blue color and some other minor diffenreces. At the bakery we parked our bicycle outside went inside for some lovely and fresh bread. While we were sitting there we noticed that the people walking by on the outside, watched, looked and smiled att our bicycles outside. It seems that old vintage bicycles makes people happy. After the breakfast we started our journey toward the centre of the city with the royal castle as goal. It must have been a strange sight, two old tandems after each other, with the riders dressed in tweed clothes just crousing down the streets.
In fact there was at some point people even smiling and cheering at us when we passed them on your journey in to the start of the tweed parade.

Two Rex Duplex tandem bicycles from late 1940’s

At the starting point at Nytorget, we were among the first to arrive.
We parked out tandems beside each other and went to the register office and got our numberplate’s for identification. We got two one for each rider on the bicycle, but we were riding on only one bicycle. That usually makes the officials rather confused. Is it two riders or one bicycle? Is it the bicycle that should have the number, or is it the riders? But we put our both numbers in a rather fun way on our tandem. One number at the front of the bicycle and other at the rear, someone would be confused. But it worked out like a charm, no one did notice that, at least as we knew!
At the start when we all that registered us, we also received an bag with a map of the route, some commercials and a package of Scottish shortbread cookies from the sponsors. Inside there was also an voucher for an beer at the Nordic Museum at Djurgården at the finish. Another of the sponsors, Hendrick’s, said that they would treat us with a gin and tonic just before the finish.

As the time went by, different riders started to join the event. There were old vintage bicycles, new modern ones to. Many of the riders was dressed in fancy vintage dresses, old puffy plus 4 trousers, retro sharp suits, nice flamboyant hats and great really lovely shoes. One of the riders actually said, “we do not dress for fun, we dress in a nice way”. After all, this is not an event to act like a clown (as many bystanders might think). Many of the riders dress like this because they want to, we like the look of tweed and the old style of clothes. But sadly many of us never got a suitable moment to dress up in tweed suits and vintage clothes. Bike in Tweed are an perfect opportunely to embrace the well dressed and use good looking clothes and to use our old bicycles.

Harris Tweed jacket

We all started to cue to have the official individual start photos taken, the start was getting closer by the minute. Then the word was out, it was time to start the parade (more a parade than a race). Then we all were off, all 160 of us! 160 bicycle bells where ringing in the morning. Tourists were confused by the noise, bystanders cheered. There were children on small bicycles, race riders with vintage road racers, really heavy tandems bicycles (I used to call my tandem “the Dreadnought” because it is so big and heavy).
All generations of both bicycles and their riders was represented in the parade. A young girls skirt needed some attention at the start, the advantage with an event like this, is that there always are people available with the know how to mend and fix vintage items. The girl had the skirt mended on location. In every way.

Repairs on location

As we ride along the route, there was some stops along the way, just to let everyone to catch up so we all could ride in a tight formation along the streets. The ride along the waterfront was nice, the bicycle tires silently floating over the walkways. There was old boats at the docks, small cabins along the way and the trees were starting to get yellow leaves on their branches. It was a great autumn day for a tweed parade. No sun and no rain. A perfect bicycle and tweed day.

DSCF7471_sch DSCF7476_sch
Views of the surroundings from a riders perspective

In the middle of the race there was a stop at the park theatre at the Rålambshov park just outside the city.
It was time for picnic and the official group photo of all riders and their bicycles. It was nice to sit down and have a cup of tea and a sandwich. One of the sponsors of the parade I mentioned earlier, Hendrick´s Gin, were there and offered lemonade and cucumber sandwiches to the riders.  We all got time for admiration of the other bicycles, discussions with people with the same interests, laughs and music. It was really nice to have a break at the park theatre. Then after a while we were off again, towards the next stop on the route at Hasselbacken restaurant where a cold gin and tonic was awaiting our arrival.
It was a long way there, lots of hills and traffic. We were going straight in the middle of the city. But it was said that just this day all car traffic in the city was not permitted in order to make it easy for bicyclists, that was just perfect for our parade.

Picnic at the park theatre

I guess there is no need to say anything about the roads that was chosen for us. But I feel that I must say that this year to use the central parts of Stockholm as an route was a bad decision. Roadworks, closed off lines, 160 bicycle riders together with buses and taxis in the same lane. As mentioned, it would be a “car free day” in the city. It was, but sadly not where our route was planed. For me as an bicycle rider on a big, heavy tandem bicycle, keeping the balance in very low speed and at the same time keep my eyes open for buses, taxies and other riders was challenging. It was a fight, as commander of the “dreadnought” I worked all my skills in navigating between people, taxis, buses and other tweed riders. But it all worked out fine in the end.

At Hasselbacken, again the nice sponsor Hendrick´s Gin gave every rider an voucher for a gin and tonic (non alcoholic alternative was available of course) in the restaurants outside garden. We salute the nice gesture with a bow and keeping Hendrick´s in mind for the next gin purchase. After riding for a few hours the ice cold GT was very, very tasty and made the riders temperature go back to normal. Especially after the hills and the traffic in the city. Again we talked a lot and laughed, the spirit was high and we all looked forward to the finish and the events at the Nordic Museum. So after some time we all started again, down the road a few hundred meters to the Nordic Museum where we all was shown to the side entry of the museum to bring in all bicycles up to the main hall where they should make a display.

One of the sponsors, Hendrick´s

At the museum they had an all day long event in the theme of the 1940’s for the public to visit. Cloths, fashion show, dance shows and the restaurant served 1940s themed food. The peak of the day was when we all came and put all or bicycles on display in the main hall. It was a pity that the bicycles was standing there only for a short while. It would have been a great display to watch all bicycles, having all the owners write a small note with information and history of the bicycle. I had my trusty camera with me, the Fujifilm x100. But I must confess. I did not take as many photos as I wanted, there was so many other things to do and see. But I got a few photos, among the ones in this post. Considering the amount of lenses and smart phones that was aimed at us during the parade. I guess that there will be many more photos around the inter-web soon, featuring Tweed and old bicycles. Perhaps one and another “Dreadnought” tandem bicycle.

Riding the narrow streets of old Stockholm

There we were standing, having a beer and waiting for the price ceremony. There had been a jury judging the riders and bicycles right from the start and now it was time to learn what the jury had decided. There was a price for best dressed lady, that was a lovely girl with a fantastic hairdo, all in a typical 1940’s sporty look (she is the girl mending the young girls skirt above). Then we had best technical bicycle, that was a Norwegian chap that came to Stockholm with his Norwegian bicycle. It was really nice! The there was a price for the best dressed youth. It was a girl which dress had broken at the start (also seen on the photo above). Then there was a gentleman from the northern parts of Sweden. He got a price for his appearance, all dressed in a 1890’s bicycle uniform, riding an high wheeler from Holland. Then they announced that there were a price for the best looking carriage. It was awarded… us?!
We got an price for looking great on our 1940’s Rex Duplex tandem bicycle. So we had to enter the stage and receive the cheers from the other riders. Now that was a real surprise!

Schneebremse with brother on the stage

Bike in tweed 2016? Of course. See you there.

I am still here

The summer has been lots of work and being busy all over so the updates here on Schneebremse has been few and far apart.
But still, I want to write a a short update before the Bike in tweed bicycle event takes place in Stockholm.Yes we are there soon. The summer just went by with lots of rain and sadly not so much bicycling as I wanted. Yes, of course.  I know it is all bad excesses. But the joy of riding a bike along a summer gravel road on the country side is a bit better than sliding along on a slippery tarmac road in the city while the rain find it’s way down your back, in the inside of the jacket. Since it has been raining so much that an aqua scooter has been better than a bicycle, I did not quite feel like adventures on two wheel so far this summer.

About the Tweed event, sadly the start will not be at the same place at Kungsträdgården thus year as previous years. This year the event will move to an square just beside the government called Mynttorget. It will be fine there to. In fact I think it will be compact and interesting to meet all people there. There will be a display of all sorts of bicycles and people in all kinds of clothes. In fact I have talked to people that might show up. Among others I have asked the lovely blogger Elsa Lisa Larsson if she might be there. Hopefully she will attend the event with her red old bicycle. It will be fun to meet her again. Perhaps I will ask her to pose for a photo. Because I will not only have a bicycle with me, I will have my Fujifilm x100 camera to take photos of the event, from start to finish and all in between. There will be some stops along the course we will ride. There will be the stop at Rålambshovsparken for the annual group photo and picnic. I better prepare with tea and sandwiches.

For me,the bicycle is almost done. I have mended some things, had a shop attend the rear wheel. I felt it was better to have a shop adjust the rear wheel of the tandem since it is not only I that will ride on the old Rex Duplex tandem bicycle. I also have added some bits and pieces. I will take photos and explain everything I did on the bicycle, details and my thoughts behind it all. The only main thing that is left to do, is toe fix the front light, It seems to be the old Swedish 1940’s ASEA dynamo that have stopped working. After 75 years? Scandal! Perhaps I should contact them for a refund?

My clothes are all set. No matter what kind of weather it will be, I will be there.
Even if the rain finds it way down my back on the inside of my shirt.

To end this update, on a nostalgic note.
Here is a photo of an young Schneebremse from the late 1970’s.
Look at that smile. A brand new bicycle, all red and shiny!

That makes anyone smiling.


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.


The tandem is ready

Yes! The Rex Tandem Duplex bicycle is finished. It has come out of the basement after all this time.

It was a long and interesting experience to tear it down to pieces and putting it back together again. As I mentioned in a earlier post the bicycle has really been used. Many miles along roads, paths and grass fields. The bearing shell for the crank in front was shattered due to enormous forces. During the renovation I noticed that even the rear hub was really worn. Made strange noises and did not spin smoothly. But where to find a replacement rear wheel to an 1940 Rex tandem? Rather impossible sadly. So I decided to fix it as good as I could. The front wheel was a real pain. It was missing an entire bearing. Only a bunch of loose marbles that rolled out on the floor when I took the front wheel apart. Then we have the front break. Well It was good back in the -50’s. With the original handle for the break. I have a regular handle now, comparing to the original handle that was a huge rod. So the amount of breaking needed way less with the original handle. In short, now there is no break on the front wheel. Almost.

The condition of the frame was as the rest of the bicycle. Well used, to say the least. In the long run that is nothing to think about. It is all put together, all parts are there. Only the double stand that are missing. There is one now, but it is wrong. It is to modern so I am looking for an vintage one. The all is set for bike in tweed 2015.

I could search for new vintage parts, like rear wheel and new hubs and so on. But I think it might be better to search for a Rex Tandem in a better condition all togehter is that is the case. This one is used, well used. It is to much things to mend and replace if I want it to be in some what original condition. It is better for it to be in the used and “real” condition. It looks genuine now. After all what use is a bicycle just standing still, and never be used?

One thing I am really proud of is the numberplate, a vintage one from Stockholm. Complete with a mount for it and all. I will keep that number plate no matter what. I am even thinking of tracking down, if possible, the original owner. Could be fun!

After filling the tires with air it was time for the test run. It went splendid! But I noticed a cracking noise from the rear wheel. It turns out that the chain is a worn so it is stale in some joints. I will try to fix a new chain and try if that helps. Then I got two used brow Brooks saddles. They match the bicycle perfectly and are a real pleasure to sit on. Even my grandfathers old bicycle bag looks like it belongs there. We took a ride, downhill at first. No problems, it is riding smoothly and breaks great (with the rear break). But it is heavy! 2 adults and a bicycle that is up there around the 40 kilo mark. Single gear. Now that is some weight you have to pedal. You can do it, but there will not be any racing along the delivery boys in the city. On the other hand, if a car crashes into us when riding the tandem. I am sure the car will break. The tandem bicycle is made of the same material as the first armoured tanks. Or at least railway rails. It would last riding around the world.

It is not a bicycle for everyday usage it. More of a fun thing to have, to ride on special occasions. Like bike in tweed for example.