As mentioned in my last post, Saturday was a rather exciting day for me, because it meant packing myself and my brand-new old bicycle up to London to take part in the second annual Tweed Run. As I also said earlier, I was going along as The Chap’s Vintage Socialite, to participate, review and enjoy the ride and its sartorial offerings! I only managed to get a spot on the Run, because The Chap Magazine is one of the sponsors for the Tweed Run, alongside other such prestigious names as Huntsman, Pashley Bicycles (oh for one of the limited edition red Pashley Britannia to match my ruby lips…sigh!) and my favourite Hendrick’s gin, who brought their Cucumber-Mobile along to serve us all H&Ts. With sponsors of that calibre, it couldn’t really fail to be an absolutely splendid occasion. And it didn’t disappoint.
Not possessing any tweed-based items of clothing, and it being a beautifully warm and sunny day anyway, I decided to pick one of my floral cotton summer frocks to wear. After some deliberation, I ruled out all dresses of the wrap variety, including Swirls, in an effort to avoid any unsightly flashing. I also added some (faux) spring blossoms to my bicycle (who needs a name suitable for a grand dame, by the way… suggestions in the comments please!)
Isn’t she pretty? By the way, after a bit more research, I have discovered she actually dates from 1949-50,
which is still fine by me!
I arrived at the starting point relatively unscathed. I hadn’t accounted for the sheer weight of my ‘All-Steel’ bicycle, and despite the generous help of a passer-by, lifting it up a flight of stairs to the station platform earned me some large splodges of grease on my skirt. Luckily these have 90% come out and the 10% that’s left blends in with the pattern! This was followed by my first ever mile(ish)-long ride on London streets to the Tate Britain…I must confess I was so scared I mainly rode illegally on the pavements.
My friends and acquaintances before we set off! Clockwise from top: fellow Chap writer Neil Ridley and his single-speed mini Penny Farthing, plus chap whose name is Ian; Mr Jon Fowler and his 1970s Pashley; me with Ruth and Stacey from Timothy Everest, which is where my chap works.
I didn’t know very many of the participants, and, because the ride was organised by the London Fixed-Gear and Single Speed cycling forums, a lot of the entrants were actual ‘proper’ cyclists, who have well-maintained equipment and are actually fit. But they don’t wear tweed or vintage on a daily basis! So they had one advantage over us, and we had one over them! I think we set ourselves apart by starting with gin, stopping for gin and drinking gin most of the way across London!
There was, however a lovely mix of people, and of bicycles. They ranged from ‘proper’ modern bikes, to old boneshakers, penny farthings, tandems, 50s style low-riders and beach cruisers, and gorgeous Pashleys, Bobbins and new-old-fashioned ones.
The ride itself was absolutely lovely. It was twelve miles in total, taking in all the big London sights, like Trafalgar Square, Savile Row and Jermyn Street, Pall Mall, Piccadilly Circus, the Strand and the City. I needn’t have worried about my stamina as it was also rather leisurely, and the marshals did an absolutely sterling job of keeping all 400 people together, and more to the point, stopping the traffic for long enough to get us all through big junctions (which was the only time we needed to put any welly into it!). The reaction from the crowds was 99% fantastic, with people cheering us on as we rang our bells, taking photos and waving. A large group of Jewish people shouted ‘Mazel Tov’ to us at one point. But a few taxi drivers were extremely bad-tempered, rude and abusive, unspeakably angry at having to wait approximately 2 1/2 minutes longer than usual at a junction. Someone apparently shouted, ‘Oh look, it’s the Tory Party’ as we went down Savile Row!
A few ‘action’ shots! From the top: The back of the Chap writers! Neil is on his Penny Farthing, and I think he deserves the most praise for how hard he had to pedal the entire way! Then myself and my chap, the Whistling Tailor; finally me and my Hendricks at the very start. The last photo was taken by my chum Jon Fowler, and the top two were stolen, with permission, from the nice chap at I Bike London. Do pop to his blog for more photos!
We had a much-needed rest and refreshment stop in Kensington Gardens, where we were treated to complimentary cucumber sandwiches and special Tweed Run tea. We chose to wash our sarnies down with gin rather than tea, though, so I can’t comment on the brew itself! Jon, the Whistling Tailor and I were photographed for the cover of London Cyclist, so I shall be keen to see if we do make it!
The Tweed Run ended in Bishopsgate, at the Bathhouse – a lovely old venue that used to be exactly what the name suggests. We were spoiled by seemingly unlimited Hendrick’s and Tonics and the musical stylings of Mr B the Gentleman Rhymer and Top Shelf Jazz. The Whistling Tailor and I were rather shattered by this point, and we pootled off home after a while to relax and massage our aching parts! 😉 As I walked away through Bishopsgate, a gust of wind lifted my skirt above my head, so after having successfully avoided it all day, I then treated all and sundry to a view of my knickers, suspenders and FF seamed stockings. Oh well – at least it all matched!
I leave you with a final montage… with a shot of me at the beginning, middle and at the very end. As you can see, even after a 12 mile cycle through a breezy London, the perm ensured that my Hot Stick set hairdo (done before I left that morning) stayed almost exactly the same! Money unbelieveably well-spent, I feel.
From the top: 12pm and 0 miles cycled, with Neil, the Whistling Tailor and a glass of gin; 1.30pm and 6 miles cycled with the WT and a teacup of gin; 5pm and 12 miles completed, with gin just out of shot. 😉
A thousand thank yous to the wonderful organisers of the Tweed Run. Thank you for having me along and I can’t wait until next year. Special thanks also go to Gustav at the Chap and Therese from the Run for sorting out my Press Pass, without which I’d have been unable to attend. And an extra thank you to Dead Men’s Spex for being such a fabulous vintage glasses emporium, from which I bought my lovely prescription sunglasses, and without which I would not have been able to see as I rode!
Hope all my readers had lovely weekends… don’t forget to help me name my lovely bicycle – suggestions in the comments, if you’d be so kind!
PS. Almost forgot – here’s a great (and short) video of the day. Thank you to Swamibu for Tweeting it to me.