Winter Tweed Run Helsinki 2017

February 19th was the date set for 2017 version of Winter Tweed Run Helsinki that is held in Finland’s capitol. The meet up for the event was at Senaatintori (the senate square) in central Helsinki, an perfect place to meet. We all had hoped for a sunny day with lots of snow and a at least -20 degrees Celsius bone chilling Nordic winter. But sadly it was +3 degrees and light rain with an heavy overcast instead. This year the weather was more of an dull October day rather than a day in February.

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My Swedish Hermes from 1956 parked on Senaatintori

When I arrived at the square round about noon, I noticed a group of bicyclists standing in front of the stairs leading up to Helsingin tuomiokirkko (Helsinki cathedral). I joined them, after all, they were standing there with vintage bicycles and dressed in tweed. I guessed they were participants of the tweed run. Right away we started to have a chat and I noticed the kindness and friendliness of the riders. Even if we all was trying to make conversations mixed in Swedish, English, Finish all added with home made sign language. More and more riders with their great looking clothes and nice bicycles arrived and joined us. Both modern and vintage bicycles of all styles and models, Swedish, Finish, Indian(?). It was a great mix of everything. Lots and lots of photos were taken, by ourselves and others. Even tourists came up to us and wanted to know more what we were up to looking as we did. It was an relaxed and happy feeling in the light rain on the square.

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The meeting in front of Helsingin tuomiokirkko

Soon the organizers joined us. Sadly I never got their names, but they were very kind and helpful in every way. They welcomed us all individually, shook our hands and gave us stickers as an gift with the events logo for this year. We also got information about an race that is held in the summer of 2017 that looked very tempting to join. After a short while one of the organizers stood up on his bicycle and with a old megaphone and announced to us that we was welcome to the seventh annual Winter Tweed Run Helsinki! He explained that we would take the coastal route around the central part of Helsinki. But first of all we all should get up on the stairs to the cathedral and take a group photography. We took our bicycles and climbed the stairs trying to group ourself for a good and fun photo! One of the organizers used the megaphone and directed us, telling us to cheer seven times to celebrate the event. Sadly I do not have any group photo, but I am sure that it will be available on-line. Somewhere.

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Some of the people behind Winter Tweed Run Helsinki

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The style is a winner!

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I placed the sticker on the frame of my bicycle.

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“Welcome to Helsinki”

After the photo we all made us ready for the start. The direction was given and off we went. It is a fun thing when an race like this starts. Tourists stands still and looks amazed on this large group of bicyclists that are dressed in odd cloths. Not to mention the car drivers surprised looks when they sees about 30 riders in a group riding on the streets.

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Here we are just coming down the stares to for the start of the race.

The goal of the route was an café located on the shore on the other side of Helsinki. It is an regular route that they usually use for this event. It consists of bicycle lanes most of the time, the few times we crossed streets with traffic one of the organizers stopped the cars. Because we were riding in a relative tight formation the car drivers showed an great deal of understanding. After all, it is February and some strange people are riding bicycles, “better to let the bicycles pass…”.

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Crossing a street on our way to the coastal scenery bicycle path around Helsinki

The bicycle lane along the sea shore had lovely scenery of the sea and buildings on the other side. For me it was special, as one of my favourite films from Finland is Calamari Union made by Aki Kaurismäki. Along the ride we went by the area called Eira that is a famous place in that film. It was really great to be there and see it. We took the bicycle lanes further along the way to reach our destination, Café Regatta.

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There was a strong head wind sometimes, but for us that was no problem.

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Some of us stopped to take photos of the sea

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Wide and nice bicycle paths, even for an “lay-down-and-pedal-bicycle”

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More wonderful scenery and surprised bystanders.

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At the Regatta café.

Now we could sit by an open fire or enter the café for a semla pastry and a hot coco, of course with whipped cream on top! Excellent service and really tasty! On the outside we all could talk and admire the bicycles, special made ones, really vintage Crescents, old Hermes and different Finish brands. All sorts of modifications as wine bottle holders and cup holders for coffee that was isolated to keep the heat. The organizers had transport bicycles. One “long John” model that is build as an regular bicycle but has an large luggage rack between the handlebars and the front wheel. The other one was the more common three wheeled version with a large storage box in front. But the most impressive was the fellow dressed in tweed with a cap and an umbrella under his arm while riding all the way on a unicycle! That was truly an amazing sight to see.

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An 1920’s Crescent, all original.

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The details on the bell and worn wooden grips are amazing.

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Hot coco and a semla filled with whipped cream and strawberry jam, it was a real treat. Tasty and delicious.

At the café about half of the riders that started said good bye and left. For example the riders from Sweden needed to go back and catch the boat. After the break we all started again and left for the after party that was held in the northern parts of Helsinki. The road there was sometimes really steep but it was really a nice ride, forest roads and great nature. Suddenly one of the riders bicycle broke down. Everyone was trying to help out, but almost all of us only had tools for vintage bicycles, this was an modern bicycle. But they found a tool that did the job so we went on.

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“Get ready to start”. The megaphone has “speed race” written on it.

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An forest route was planned.

After a while riding of small paths, larger roads, bicycle paths that was covered with ice we arrived at our final destination. It was a club house, where a band should play later on that evening. But up to that point we were welcome to buy some pea and carrot soup, beer and also have a sauna. The kindness among the organizers (I really can not remember their names) was heart warming.

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Our final destination.

After eating some hot and freshly made pea and carrot soup served out of a huge pot, served with mustard. We were few riders that decided to leave this lovely event. I talked to the organizer and thanked him for a lovely day and lovely hospitality. I was so overwhelmed by all expressions, when saying good buy I mistook an honest hug for a odd handshake.
I am still ashamed for my awkwardness.

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The smile says it all, it was a good day.

Finally, my personal thoughts on Winter tweed run Helsinki 2017 are simple and straight forward. It was a great event with no rules more than just to have fun and having a great time. But if there will be an Helsinki tweed run 2018, I will plan it way better. Sauna, beer, bicycles and music, count me in.

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On the way back to Helsinki city

Kiitos paljon!

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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.

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Happening in white

Today when I was down in the basement, searching for some old books I had in storage there. While I was there I took a look at the old Monark bicycle that I re-build earlier a few months ago. The one that was going to be the “silver arrow racer”. That I was going to build but never got around to do it. I had to move the white Monark out of the way to access the drawer with all the books. When I was going to put the bicycle back I got the idea of checking out the air in the tires. I remember the seller telling me that the bicycle needed new tires and tubes since there was no air in them. But after filling the tubes with air at the time of the re-build earlier. It was still air in the tubes today! The ires are bad, but that has to do with that they are rather inexpensive. But they do their job. Then I got a silly idea.
Why not try the Monark out, just to see if all parts are in place and works as they should.

I brought it out on to the street and looked at it in the sunlight. Well, to be honest. It is a bit scruffy and dirty. But it sure is a looker. There is a certain “cool” look about the old bicycle. If it was a car it would perhaps be called a sleeper. Beaten up, but a real racer underneath. First I started by putting my right trouser leg inside of my sock. We used to do back when I was a kid. After all, I have no chain guard, so a trouser leg fluttering in the wind might be problems waiting to happen. So with my trousers securely tucked in my sock I mounted the bicycle and put the right foot on the pedal and pushed away.

I need to mention that the streets here are now covered with a layer of snow and ice. Also the tires on the Monark is old, inexpensive summer tires. The first thing that happened was that the rear wheel started to spin when I pushed away, no traction at all. But with some technique and routine from the youth when I was riding bicycles all year around I quickly got some speed. The ride felt really nice, a but bit unusual  for me with the low handlebar position. Last time I had a racer bicycle was about 24 years ago (that one was scrapped after a nasty fall in high speed). So it was a simple matter of adjusting the riding position for me, riding low, riding fast. The saddle is a bit worn, so I am thinking of replacing it with an Brooks saddle I have laying around. It could be great. It was fun to suddenly after so many years remember how to ride a bicycle in snow again. Skidding along the road with those cheep low profile tires, making rear wheel braking into a action filled event.

I am looking forward to this summer, I will ride the Monark often. Just for fun!
But I realized that I had completely forgotten about the headlight. I was planning to fix it so it did not need a dynamo to get the light going. I was thinking of building in a battery inside the headlight housing. It was a really cheep lamp so if it breaks, no big problem. But the Monark looks really great with that big head light mounted. So now in the winter it is a perfect time to try to solve that puzzle.

After trying the bicycle for a short time. I took a photo of it so I could write a new post for you readers. After all, it was a long time I wrote here. I am sorry for that. But it is winter here in Sweden. Snow and ice are not so great for bicycles. Let us be honest. It is more fun to ride along in the summer and to take photos with old cameras.

By the way, I heard a rumour earlier. It was one of the Bike In Tweed organisers that talked about the event this year. They are thinking of having it at the regular date, that is the  first (or second) weekend in October as it was before. That is just great! Let us all hope for great weather so all nice bicycles and owners will be there this year. See you there perhaps?

 

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