Lady blue

I just realized that I have never presented the bicycle I call Lady blue. Perhaps now is a good time as any.

Some years ago I was asked about an old bicycle, it was standing unused in a basement for many years. The owners said that they wound never ride a bicycle again, so it was time to pass it on. Since they knew that I was looking for a vintage bicycle, they thought that it best to ask me. I was told that the bicycle was given to the present owners from a friend of theirs. The original owner, a elderly lady from south of Sweden, had received the bicycle as a birthday gift when she was 8 years old back in mid 1930’s.


Hella, made in Kalmar in about 1935 as I got it

It was a nice story behind the bicycle, I headed home and started to think how I would restore it in the best way. Restore it to how it once looked, adding accessories from the period. The bicycle it self had a headbadge with the name “Hella” and the text “made in Kalmar” written on it. The rear wheel Torpedo hub was stamped with 31, so it was made around those years. That was completely in line with the story about the young girl receiving the bicycle as a present around 1935.

Since it was my first vintage bicycle restoring after I had sold my old grey Panther, I felt like doing a good job, or at least as good as I could. All with the knowledge, tools and parts I had in my possession to renovate and restore the bicycle. The first thing I did was to completely disassembly the entire bicycle in to small parts. All bearings, screws, and parts were inspected and cleaned. Some parts were in very good condition, but others like the handlebars and wooden grips were in a really bad shape and needed replacement.


New tires and tubes to be mounted on the newly cleaned rims


The frame is clean from parts, I have just mounted brackets and wheels to see how it looks

It was during the cleaning I found the serial number on the frame. Of the number I learned that the frame was made in the town of Gävle, far from Kalmar.

Back then Gefle Velocipedfabrik manufactured bicycle frames and sold them to local bicycle shops that created their own style of bicycles from parts and named them after their own shop. There are may examples of that practice around Sweden in from the start up to about the 1950’s. There are numerous small branded bicycles, many are built with parts from one of the few large bicycle parts manufactures at the time. But they have all sorts of brands, often the name comes from the shop owners own name, a Greek god, perhaps a town and so on.


Torpedo stamped with 31, the hub is made in 1931.

I found new old handlebars on an auction site, there I found an old bicycle bell, chain guard and other parts that I needed. After cleaning all parts, polishing the chrome, the fun of mounting everything together started. This time I took my time to get the bicycle done. I did not want to rush the process, it was my therapy and I wanted to show the old lady the result.

During the restoration I tried to keep the parts I got as replacements in a 1930s range. The vintage crochet skirt guard, 30’s style Swedish made ASEA headlight and dynamo. The saddle turned out to be a bit difficult, vintage 1930’s cushioned saddles are rare to find after all usage during the years. Instead I used an old vintage Brooks saddle as a substitute.

One day it was finished, and it looked really great. In fact I used it as a prop when doing a photo shoot.


1930’s ASEA bicycle lamp…


… withan ASEA brass dynamo.

A few years later, I took a look at my first rebuilding project. I quickly realized that I never completed the job, the wheels were missing spokes, the saddle were still the worn Brooks and the tires were a bit to wide to fit the mudguards. It was at that moment after learning new information about old bicycles that the bicycle was remade in the early 1950’s.

Since the bicycle was made in mid 1930’s it was supposed to be painted with a special kind of finish and pin striping. As it looks now it is clearly an late 1940’s, early 1950’s style. The chain wheel is changed, the reflector and other parts where changed. Back then it was common to take your old bicycle to your local bicycle shop, turn it in for a complete overhaul. The shop would change the bad parts, repaint and refurbish the entire bicycle. It was cheaper, you got a new bicycle for less money of the price for a brand new one. Back then bicycles were expensive and when you had a bicycle it was supposed to be taken care of, and used for a long time. It was an investment.


The chain guard and chromed crank. Clearly changed at some time during the years


Brook saddle and some vintage tools and a repair kit


It turned out really great, I only need a better saddle

It is not original 1931, but it looks really great. The circle became complete when I sent a photo of the bicycle to the owners I got the bicycle from, they showed the photo of the bicycle to the old lady. She was very happy to see that her old bicycle still were going and having a new life. Sadly the old lady passed away some months after that. But I did manage to fix her old bicycle so she could see it, it felt great.

If I fix the small issues, Lady blue has many years left of riding along the roads on sunny summer days. Or why not attend a tweed event?


Lady blue

Enskede Tweed, (Höstrusket 2019)

Saturday 26th of October. It was time for the third Enskede Tweed event, Höstrusket 2019.

The information about the event mentioned that the ride would be held despite weather, sun, rain or even snow. The Höstrusket event was happening. After all, tweed, is a fabric made for rugged weather. Tweed jacket, woollen scarf, wellingtons and knitted socks will keep you warm and dry all day long. Unless it is way to cold, but then it is only a matter of adding layers.

The rain poured down on the morning of the event, but the weather services indicated that the rain would stop around noon. Amazingly the rain stopped as predicted, but the grey skies were still threatening to deliver more rain during the day while we headed off to the start.

As the last time, the start was located at Triangelparken in Enskede. New for this time was that hot tea and freshly baked cake awaited the brave riders. The hot and tasty tea along with the cake made it feel a bit British among all the yellow leaves on the ground.

After finishing our tea and home baked cakes the organizers explained the route and encouraged the riders to remember the traffic rules. After all, we were going to ride along the streets together with others. Shortly thereafter, it was time to get the ride started.


The organizers offered tea and cake to the participants at the start at Triangelparken


Vintage bicycles from different makers and years, from 1930’s to 1960’s.

Following the back roads around Gamla Enskede (the old part of Enskede from 1910’s), we headed our way towards the “The Woodland Cemetery” with short stops along the way for some guidance and history about the areas. At the cemetery we stopped and visited the actress Greta Garbo’s grave before heading along the route.

It was a peaceful route on the cemetery, seeing places you normally do not visit. The Woodland Cemetery is a very large and beautiful place in Stockholm, it was a nice ride there. When exiting the cemetery we headed down to some of the oldest houses in Enskede, built around 1790. It was nice to see those old hoses, a memory from the time before 1930’s, when Stockholm city council decided to buy old farm mansions land to build complete new areas for the ever expanding population in Stockholm.


A quick break before entering the Woodland Cemetery


Parked bicycles at the location of actress Greta Garbo’s grave


On our way again

Enskede is an area built in different stages during the years. The first stage of development was back in 17th century, old mansions with huge land areas with large farms managed by smaller cottages and mansions located here and there. But in the early 1900, the large expansion started. Stockholm grew and needed new areas to build hoses and living areas. 1909 was when the “garden town” of Enskede was founded, a modern part of the city. Houses with gardens to grow flowers and vegetables.

Later on in the 1930’s large areas was built with cheep and simple wooden hoses that offered the working class their own homes. In fact the agency controlled by the city was called “Own homes agency”. That boom of houses had a second wave in the 50´s. While we were riding along with the Enskede tweed event, we saw all the different areas and the different architectures of the eras was clearly noticeable.

Our ride continued to the “own homes” areas of Tallkrongen and Svedmyra, areas that got their names from old farm houses that once was located on large mansions properties. As mentioned in an earlier article, Höstrusket 2018

We later headed down to Enskede fältet and the finish location at Enskede mansion as always. There it was time for the traditional group photo before the organizers thanked everyone and said that there will be a ride next year to.


The group photo at Enskede gård


Riding a bicycle with style

After chatting for a while and taking photos of bicycles and the riders, few of the riders decided to leave after a great day. The rest of us went to Enskede Värdshus for supper and drinks. After all, the ride in light drizzle and fairly rugged weather, we all looked forward to have some hot food.

The evening continued with many laughs and odd stories. It was a great eventing in every way. One of the topic were that the Höstrusket event is really nice, just because then there is a reason to get out and attend a tweed event one last time before the winter. After all, why sitting at home watching TV. When you can ride a bicycle, dressed in tweed instead?

Or as they say, “there is no bad weather, only bad clothes”. With tweed, there is no excuses. Or very few ones at least.

Until next time, ride safely.

 

Bike in Tweed Stockholm, 2019

Saturday the 21´st of September, it was time for a new tweed event to participate in. Early in the morning, I packed the old bicycle bags with my lunch package. Sandwiches with cheese, boiled potatoes, pickled herrings and tomatoes. A simple version of the classic SOS “smör, ost och sill” (butter, cheese and herring, it is an small smörgåsbord for one person). I also packed some bottles of beer, water, gin, tonic, a small bottle of Jaloviina and a bottle of Champis (a carbonated soda that has been available in shops since 1918, that goes well with Jaloviina). After all it is important to stay hydrated.


All packed and ready to join Bike in Tweed 2019

The weather was perfect, the sun was shining, it was not to hot or cold. A crisp autumn morning, fresh air and blue skies. I started my journey towards the city and Evert Taubes terrass in the centre of Stockholm, the start location for the event. That has been the same start location as the last two years, a great place with a nice view of the city. While I was peddling along the empty streets, the only sounds that could be heard, was the old Nordstjärnans tires running along the tarmac and the fluttering of the small pennant, an vintage Swedish flag pennant that I had tied to the handlebars as they did back then. It was really a lovely morning ride.

When getting closer to the start, I noticed several other tweed riders heading the same way. A tip of the hat, a wave and a smile – good morning, what a lovely weather today!

At the start, the organizers had already started welcoming the riders. This year the start area was really well planned. Upon arrival we were guided via an red and white tape to the registration desk. There checklists where checked, starting number were handed out along with food tickets for those who had signed up and paid for the the after-ride dinner.  Later on I learned that there was cookies and crisps handed out to the participants along the registrations line. Sadly I did not get any, I must have arrived in a gap.


Standing in line for registration


Interview, some story behind the bicycle and cloths.


Lovely weather, a great autumn day

After registration, we followed the tape to be interviewed about our bicycles and our selection of clothes. All judged in front of the jury. That was a new and fun segment, I mentioned that my bicycle was made in Stockholm and the pennant was the Swedish flag and had the text Stockholm and an image of the city hall printed on it. I got praise for the way I had mounted the pennant, correctly mounted with an wire going from the bicycle bell on the handlebar down to the nut on the front wheel, as it should be.

After the interview we followed the tape to the photo session. It is tradition at Bike in Tweed to have a photo taken of you and your bicycle. This year they used two photographers, it was a fast and well organized process. There are so many other great looking people with wonderful bicycles, a quick pose with your bicycle and follow the instructions from the photographer, “click”. It is an great memory to keep.


More tweedians arrived and parked at the square after being photographed

After the photo session we were guided along the tape to the main square where we could park our bicycles and begin to mingle and talk with new and old familiar faces. It was nice to meet all tweedians again, it was a year since the last time we met.

Walking around in the sunshine watching all those vintage, new, rat-rods, beaters, everyday riders, penny farthings and regular bicycles of all kinds. Not forgetting all beautiful dresses, handsome suits, vintage military uniforms and everyone that had dressed up. All those hats, beards and accessories really made it a great gathering of tweedians on a beautiful day.


1930´s style nurse with a lovely smile

It was time to start the ride. The route was heading north towards the busy Tegelbacken and then passing the city hall, I guess my bicycle and pennant was feeling at home at that moment. We rode along the seafront of Norr Mälarstrand heading to the picnic at Rålambshov park. This year it was decided to have a shorter route, also have the picnic 30 minutes after the start.


Gathering for the start…


…and away we go


Crossing the bridge from Riddarholmen to Tegelbacken


Heading down to Norr Mälarstrand on our way to Rålambshov

The ride was in a nice tempo and everything went just fine until we arrived at Rålambshov and the amphitheatre, were we used to have our picnic. The entire place was occupied by an athlete event! They had blocked the stairs where we use to sit so the runners could run up and down. Large stations where people was standing and shouting pep talks to the runners.

It was some sort of endurance competition for runners, modern music was blasting out all over the park. Our organizer talked to the people in charge, after all we had permit from the police to be there. I do not know what happened, but they stopped the music. It all was confused and improvised. Our traditional group photo was taken against an small slope of grass. After that we were supposed to have a picnic, somewhere.


Time for the group photo where the athletes event had blocked the stairs in the background


But there was a group photo taken finally, sadly I have no copy of it yet

The resourceful Lucie took command over a few tweedians and said that we were going to sit on the seats of the theatre as usual anyway. We headed over the marked tracks, dodging the runners, and headed up on the stairs. It was fun to sit there, watching the runners going up and down the stairs. While we were having a picnic. I was drinking beer, gin and tonic and having pickled herring, potatoes, sandwiches with cheese and dessert. Sometimes we shouted “come one, keep the steps light, looking good, that’s the spirit”. The runners did not look happy.

To be honest, I prefer riding an old bicycle with one gear, dressed in tweed, than running up and down stairs looking totally worn out. An gentleman does not run or exercise.


We all spread out for the picnic while athletes was running all over the place


Pickled herring, potatoes, tomatoes and sandwiches with cheese. All served on a enamel plate from 1940´s with cutlery from the same year

After the picnic we headed along the route again. Starting by working our way up and across Västerbron (West bridge). That bridge really sorts out the soft weekends bicyclists from the hardcore bicycle fanatics. Riders that are used to ride vintage bicycles that weighs as an old hospital bed. Besides, a real gentleman do not stand up while peddling, neither does an gentleman dismount the bicycle and walk. Also, gears are simply not cricket, so that is out.

What is left, is to harden out the uphill. With an steady pace, determination and firm grip on the handlebar, the uphill will be defeated! As you understand by now, I am grasping for excuses for my idiotic peddling up the bridge when I easily could have dismounted and walked instead.


An penny farthing heading towards the bridge


Going down hill after crossing Västerbron towards Södermalm


Cargo bicycle with lots of cargo and handsome riders waiting for the car to move


The old cargo train tracks down by the Hammarby canal

After crossing Västerbron we headed down to Södermalm, a part of Stockholm with large appartment buildings from 1910-1940’s. We saw some really nice parts of the city along our route that we usually never visit. The route continued down to the Hammarby canal, then we turned and went uphill again. Finding our way among the back alleys of Södermalm until it was time for the most chaotick part of the route. We were going to cross the total mayham of Slussen.

Slussen is an part of Stockholm city that are undergoing an complete rebuild. The old constructions were made in the 1930´s and is now in desperate need of renovation. Today almost everything is torn down and the area is a construction site today. There are temporary roads going all over the place. Cars, buses, pedestrians, taxis, kids, bicycles, skateboards, tourists and 190 tweedians on bicycles was trying to get along at the same time. It was a challenge.


We are leaving the chaos of Slussen behind us…


… the roads opened up a bit. It was time for some romance while riding bicycles

The ride continued along the sea side of Skeppsbron, the part of the city that has been a port since medieval times. Passing the royal castle, across the bridge to Kungsträdgården and over to Nybroplan while avoiding pedestrians all the way. The route continued along Strandvägen the “posh” street, crossing Djurgårdsbron trying to avoid running over people. The bicycle lane on the bridge is narrow, but it all went well. After that we all headed out on Djurgården. The finish line at Hasselbacken was in reach.

You might think that it was many streets and places I mentioned in the last part. But I mentioned them because those areas are the most tourist crowded places in Stockholm, all year around. There we were, about 190 vintage cyclists among all tourists. It was an sight to see. All cameras was turned away from the royal castle and all the other sights. Only to take photos of us dressed in tweeds, riding old bicycles.


Hendricks gin are on the way to Hasselbacken

Shortly after the ride on Djurgården we all arrived at Hasselbacken restaurant as previous years. Upon our arrival, Erik Tengholm Trio was playing live music for us. We parked our bicycles and gathered in front of the stage to enjoy the music. The sponsor Hendricks gin was handing out gin and tonics to us thirsty riders. It was really nice, listening to live music while sipping on an cold and tasty gin and tonic.

Later on the price ceremony started, the always impressive Vintagemannen presented the winners and handed out the prices for best dressed man, best dressed lady and best looking bicycle. Sadly I did not notice the prices they received. Later on Hendricks handed out their price. The “most unusual award” was handed out. Congratulations to all winners, they were all looking absolutely wonderful!


Erik Tengholm Trio playing jazz


Vintagemannen was in charge of the price ceremony


Hendricks gin handed out an special price, the “most unusual award”


My bicycle with the pennant with Stockholm’s city hall parked at the restaurants garden

After the price ceremony it was time for dinner. As always, it was great to sit and have dinner together with all tweedians. Having conversations about the day and how it all went. More drinks, laughs and conversations.

But as all fun things, everything comes to an end. The sun had set, people were leaving, riding their bicycles into the dark and cold autumn night. Before we started our way home, we decided to attend Bike in Tweed next year to, after all it is Bike in Tweed´s 10th anniversary next year.

Thank you for Bike in Tweed 2019, see you all soon.


The ride home after a great day

My first vintage bicycle

Perhaps I have mentioned the first vintage bicycle I once had before?

If I have, well here we go again. After my military m/42 bicycle was stolen back in early 1990´s. I decided to pay the local bicycle shop a visit to see if there was any good bicycle there that I could buy. This was the time when vintage bicycles was just old bicycles, that old people was using. 1940’s bicycles without gears was not the kind of bicycles that people wanted back then.

Among all sorts of bicycles standing outside the shop I noticed an old grey bicycle for sale, it had modern plastic grips, reflectors all around and an modern headlight mounted, the price tag was about £25. after trying the bicycle, I handed over the money to the shop owner and rode it home. Just a fun detail, the shop where I bought the bicycle was an old 1950’s shop that was owned by an gentleman and his wife. My father remembered them from when he was a kid in the 1950’s. They had the shop since 1950 up to 1990’s when they sold it to a new owner who just a few years later closed down the shop and had everything removed. The old shop was all original from 1950s, including the old neon sign “Sjögrens cykel och sport”.

The bicycle I bought was an Panther, made in Stockholm in about 1942. It became my daily commuter bicycle for a long time and I used all the time, summer, winter and everything in-between. It was a great bicycle that kept on going, in rain and shine, mud and snow, all year round on its old tires.


One of the only photos of my bicycle from back then. The photo is made by taking a photo of the original photo with a smartphone. Today I have no idea where the original photos are, perhaps even thrown away

After a while I started to use my grandfathers old bicycle bag bag on the luggage rack to have more space for luggage.  The old bag looked great one the bicycle. In fact the luggage rack had areas of worn paint from the start, exactly where the hooks for my bicycle bag was hanging. It was meant to hang there. I replaced the modern plastic saddle with my grandfathers old leather saddle and noticed that the bicycle looked more “complete” in a way. That was when I started to look around for old bicycle parts. I started to get an idea of replacing the 1960’s headlight with an really old one. One day I found some handlebars with the old wooden style grips. Away with the awful modern handlebars with the plastic grips. Now it started to look like an complete bicycle. Later on I found other parts, parts that fitted the bicycle well in its dark grey paint with black details and golden contours.

Back then I was wearing vintage cloths, not to be fashionable. It was more an reason of having clothes handed down by elderly friends and relatives, “you can have his old jacket, I have no need for it any more”. Also money was a bit of an issue, so I could not buy cloths so often.

Nowadays I think they would call it eco-friendly, re-usage or something like that. But back then I was grateful for the old clothes, after all they fitted better than modern clothes. They had way better durability and looked way better, old shirts with huge collars and bell bottom trousers. Almost all looked good, the lilac velvet jacket with silver buttons from the 70´s that was given to me at one point, that was a bit odd, even for me.

A few years later after I bought the Panther, perhaps in the mid 1990’s. I decided to do an small adventure just for fun. I got the idea of taking a long ride in the forests south of Stockholm with the bicycle. Riding for fun, but also to take some photos of the nature with my old camera. That was when I used to develop and print my own photos in the basement, it was a fun and creative hobby.

I loaded the camera with film, I wrapped some bottles of lemonade in newspaper to keep the bottles cold, and made sandwiches that I warped in baking paper and tied up with some string. I put everything in the old backpack that I had bought at the old military surplus store at the same time I bought the military bicycle. The backpack was from the 30’s and reeked of an mouldy, damp old cellar. But it was cheep.

All set up and ready to go, I headed away. It was a lovely day, the sun was shining and after I left the main roads, rolling down the gravel paths in the woods, I started to really enjoy the bicycle ride. The fresh air and the wonderful smell of the forest filled my lungs. Now and then I stopped to take an photo at the forest and trees, or when I was sat an the cliff looking out over an lake, having a picnic with sandwiches and lemonade.

It was many years later I realized what I had done back then. Without knowing it, I had made an Tweed Ride event long before it even became a thing.


Here I am sitting in the grass, having a tweed moment

Many years later I met a girl at work who wanted an vintage bicycle. I had my old Panther, of course I helped her out by selling my own bicycle. Why i did that? The Panther was an size 26″ and was ever so slightly to small for me. So I removed all my personal parts of the bicycle and replaced them with other old parts, parts like my grandfathers saddle and so on.

When writing here about all my bicycles, I thought I had mentioned them all. But I forgot about the old Panther, until I found an old photo of the old bicycle. The camera I used back then is since long gone, sold, given away. The cloths was worn and torn beyond repairs. But the bicycle, the old Panther, that I sold is still around. In fact, the girl who bought it asked me to help out and fix it a few years later.

We decided to meet one day, there is was. The old bicycle that I bought many years ago, it was well taken care of and looked all fine. After some general service, change of tires and adding some parts I had laying in my boxes. The old Panther turned out to be a very nice bicycle that will be a great companion for many years to come.


The vintage black and brass ASEA dynamo matches the grey/black/gold colours of the bicycle perfectly!


A proud Panther owner

Where did the Pelago go?

Long ago, I bought a bicycle frame from the Finnish Pelago bicycle company.
You can find the old post I wrote, here.

The vision I had was to build an racer, somewhat inspired by old racers from 1920’s and 1930’s. Black frame, turned down handlebars and clean look. After talking to Pelago I bought an Bristol frame. Then I started to gathering parts from here and there, mostly there. An truly international bicycle. Some weeks later I got all parts that was needed to build my vision bicycle.


My finished version

After a day of building and adjusting, the bicycle was complete. The Pelago Special sure looked amazing with all the details I had got for it, first the glossy black frame, the chain in gold, all chromed parts like stem and pedals, the front break and creme white tires. Not only looking great, it was riding like a dream. It was first after a while I discovered a problem. The problem was not with the bicycle, it worked perfectly. Good breaks and riding smooth. The problem was with me! Leaning forward and riding fast for a long period of time was simply not my thing any more. Perhaps I was untrained (more likely getting old), but it should be comfortably to ride an bicycle. I did not feel comfortably at all.

In fact I did not use the bicycle as I expected to. Instead the Pelago was left standing in the basement, abandoned for weeks at end. One day I got the idea of why not rebuild it to an regular standard roadster instead? Complete with mudguards, dual kickstand, springy saddle and with the handlebars turned in a more traditional way to achieve an more upright seating position. I ordered some parts online from Classic-cycle in Germany that would fit and suit the black Pelago frame.


The second version, chain guard, mudguards. An more upright riding position

After that I started to rebuild the Pelago, from the cool racer it was, to an more regular standard bicycle. After that conversion I used it for a bit, but by that time I had bought an vintage bicycles that I was using instead. So the Pelago Special was left standing in the basement again.

One day a co-worker who also was interested in bicycles, asked my about the Pelago and if it was for sale. He liked the style of my path racer build very much. The look with the glossy black frame, creme white tires and overall clean lines. He told me that he had some visions for it, turning it into a racer once again but with a twist. One day in the summer later on we made the deal. Money exchanged hands, an hand shake after that he rode away on my Pelago.

That was when the Pelagos third life had begun. My co-worker quickly removed the black standard mudguards that I had mounted along with some other parts. The standard chain wheel was replaced by an custom made chain wheel from Bespoke Chainrings in Australia. The handlebars was replaced by an vintage Reynolds deep drop handlebar that he bought from eBay along with an old refinished Major Taylor stem.

The new look was really amazing. With few changes it became a different bicycle all together. Later on he asked me to help him with some details, I went home to his place and there in the kitchen, was the bicycle leaning against the dishwasher. That must be one of the oddest and cosiest bicycle workshop I have visited in so far.


Kitchen workshop. Notice the Reynolds deep drop handlebar and the refinished Major Taylor stem


Beautiful custom made chain wheel


Clean and stripped down look

He used the Pelago like that for a while until my he got an new idea. He wanted to change the bicycle from a racer to a more porteur inspired bicycle. He found a new made luggage rack in the porteur style, he also mounted mudguards with an hammered finish and changed the handlebars. The fourth incarnation of the Pelago Special has begun.

As for today, I think the old Pelago is still being used as an everyday bicycle around the streets of Stockholm. But with unique parts fitted to the former Pelago Bristol frame. Truly a Pelago Special.