How Tweed it is

From racing to randonneuring, commuting to coaching, I am one-by-one ticking off items on an ever-growing bicycle bucket list. It seems there is no end to the things you can do on a bike. It may be unrealistic to think I can do them all, but regardless, I aim to give it my best shot. Since I seem to have missed the nude ride that happened earlier this summer (something for which I am both sorry and grateful) a tweed ride seemed a suitable (and more modest) alternative.

Tweed rides are nothing new, they originated in London a few years ago and happen all over the world – although I would wager the ones in London are by far the tweediest and most authentic. My heritage includes every heavy-drinking culture from Portugal to Eastern Russia – I may not be English per se, but can claim some British ancestry via the wild and drunken Scots on my mother’s side.

But I digress. On a Tweed Ride, you can use whatever bike you like (although the more vintage the better) but dressing up in your finest British fetish-wear is highly encouraged.Ok, the British may not be known for public indecency, but get us to a hotel room in Las Vegas and it’s a very different story.

The third annual Winnipeg Tweed Ride happened on a lovely Sunday in September, in conjunction with Ciclovia – a bike festival I had oddly never participated in either. I had resigned myself to shelling out a small fortune for a costume rental. My cheap Scottish side was quite relieved when I realized I had many appropriate pieces in my own wardrobe. Apparently my fashion taste runs similar to that of an 80 year-old Englishwoman. I’m totally wearing this to my next crit.

50-odd Tweeders assembled at the Assiniboine park pavillion, where we oo-ed and aah-ed at each other’s warm and itchy outfits, and admired the incredible assortment of bicycles. My darling Beatrix made the trip in from the country especially for the occasion. I tried not to be jealous when she got more attention than me.One chap brought this awesome hand-built “Orange Crush” bike, complete with hidden frame compartment for a bottle. Of Crush, of course.This young lass had rescued her bike from the dump. In addition to a hand-made wicker basket, it sported an old speedometer and wonderful battery-powered buzzer. Incredibly, when she produced a ‘D’ battery from her bag and inserted it into the battery compartment, the buzzer still worked.MCA President Jason Carter pulled out the vintage woolies and an amazing old leather cycling helmet that would offer as much protection as the layer of head sweat it likely induces.But this was no ordinary helmet. This particular helmet was worn by local cycling legend Erick Oland Senior, shown here being supported by his father in possibly one of my favourite cycling photos ever.It was also worn by Erick Junior, so between the two of them, that helmet has seen a list of palmares most of us will only ever dream of.

Riding buddies Esther (who donned the now infamous yellow dress), Gyula, Ruth and Ben were there, as well as Ben’s lovely wife Diane.We decided if we were going to win this thing, we needed to work together, do some good blocking, and really wear down the competition to dominate the field in the final sprint.

Jason made a surprise move, bridging up to the lead group and catching Ben completely off guard.The treachery was easily forgiven as we made our way en masse to the legislative building for further hobnobbery and excessive picture taking.Oh yes, I do love me the Photoshop filters.

After we had sufficiently documented ourselves, we meandered down Broadway through the Ciclovia Festivities, which included the promise of a rousing match of Wupass Bike Polo. Esther was very excited.Given the early hour, the crowd was a little thin. And sparse as well, given the fact that the typically nocturnal Hipster rarely stirs before noon on a weekend.The handful of brave souls there seemed lucid enough, and happy to see us. I took the opportunity to do some shameless promotion of DarkCross, and was pleased to find out news of the event had already hit our skinny-jeaned friends.From Polo to picnic, we coasted to the suitably aged Dalnavert Museum grounds for a charmingly presented repast of lemonade and cucumber sandwiches.If winter riding is the most fun you can have with eight layers of clothing on, tweed rides are certainly the most fun you can have at ten kilometres an hour.

A jolly good ride and all that.