What the Heck is a Tweed Ride?

Speaking of tweed rides….

For the uninitiated, tweed rides are organized bike rides in which the participants don traditional British cycling attire and ride vintage bicycles (the vintage bikes are optional, the clothing typically isn’t – lycra and logo jerseys are definitely out). While on the surface it appears tweed rides are about the clothing, we believe they’re actually about reawakening the spirit of a more genteel era in which camaraderie and well-wishing among bicyclists were the norm.

The tweed ride phenomenon started in London in January of 2009 and quickly jumped across the Atlantic to the U.S. where it spread like wildfire this past year. Many major cities across the country have now hosted tweed rides.

Most tweed rides are under 20 miles in length and include a few stops for food-and-drink along the way. The pace is usually languid, and perhaps most importantly, there’s always an effort to be inclusive of riders of all ability levels.

If you haven’t experienced a tweed ride yet, we highly recommend joining the fun when one comes to your area!

17 Responses to “What the Heck is a Tweed Ride?”

  • Tucson Velo says:

    We organized a Wild West Bike Ride, which was like a tweed ride, but with a western flair. We had a historian meet us and talk about the history of Tucson.

    http://tucsonvelo.com/news/wild-west-bike-ride-roundup/

  • Giffen says:

    I’m not sure how I feel about tweed rides. I wear tweed on a regular basis, so I feel somewhat comfortable when it’s painted as something anachronistic, or out of the ordinary.

  • Brent says:

    @Giffen

    I love tweed, but it isn’t something that is as common as it once was (except for the years that “tweed makes a comeback” – huh? It went away?) I can’t imagine Autumn without tweed, and I don’t want to!

    I understand your point, but as far as tweed being viewed as out of the ordinary – well, who wants to be ordinary anyway? =)

  • Matt says:

    Don’t forget the Lake Pepin Three Speed Tour, which started in 2003. It’s slightly different in that it is two days and about 80 miles. The website is at http://www.3speedtour.com/ or you can read my own account of 2007 at http://www.uscoles.com/073speedtour.html

  • Rick says:

    Giffen, as the organizer for the Sacramento Tweed Ride, your point is well taken; for myself, I think the emphasis on “tweed” isn’t about the fabric, per se, but it’s representation of an ideal: it’s something that took a long time to make, is fearlessly durable, and never goes out of style. As our society becomes more transitory, and relationships come and go with the click of a mouse, one should understand the gravitational pull towards the steadfast and reliable.

    If you believe if that’s true, then it’s a short leap to pairing tweed with bicycles; for what else in life gives us a equal measure of utility combined with a lifetime of quiet satisfaction?

  • Shelly says:

    Check out The Tweed Report. It’s a long list of Tweed Rides and Runs past and upcoming.

    Cheers,
    Shelly@RidingPretty

  • Doug R. says:

    For me it is simple, great bikes, great friends, and a greater representation of bicycles as elegant,non polluting transportation! Oh, gosh I almost forgot, Fun Too!

  • Karen says:

    To folks in NorCal… If you can’t make the Sunday ride in Sac, the SF Tweed Group is doing a ride on Saturday in Berkeley.

  • rdhd says:

    I’m also a bit town. I wear a three piece suit and bow tie to work almost every day. Sometimes in a heavier tweed-looking fabric. And a cap. So for a big group of people to dress up like that as if it’s a costume makes me nervous–after all, I’m just dressed like any professional ought to.

    But I bet it’s a lot of fun.

  • Don says:

    Tweed rides may not be my cup of tea, so to speak, but whatever gets folks together is lovely. I do like the way it has managed to meet social needs that are otherwise difficult to articulate.

    There is something about the Luddite/Anglophile aspect that rubs me the wrong way because it can appear inherently exclusive — something cyclists have difficulty shaking already — but I think some folks are just more comfortable participating in events that provide a thematic icebreaker, and that’s perfectly understandable.

    If I have any caveat, it might be that press coverage, by emphasizing the wacky folks riding bikes, could make it difficult for some to take bike transportation seriously, although it could also provide a means of envisioning future use, a kind of “back to the future” campaign to get it right this time.

  • Don says:

    That said, I think knickers are back!

  • Rick says:

    @Don:

    “Thematic Icebreaker”: perfectly said.

    My wife, Erin, is so much more articulate than I am, and this is normally how she explains the “Tweed” phenomenon–that it’s more of a way to break down barriers, in that we all look a bit silly and out-of-place, and it provides a way for all of us to enjoy a commonality with strangers that we may not normally enjoy.

    Perhaps that’s why people seem to have a great time on these rides!

    We are going to have television coverage for our ride, but I’ll keep in mind their interest of portraying us as “clowns”, and we’ll strive to keep the focus on sustainability and good civic manners…thanks for the heads-up! :-)

  • Don says:

    @Rick:

    Have a great time! You can point out to the reporter that tweed was to the 19th century what polyester fleece is today! It’s about being out in the world! And having enough pockets!

    Now, the next step in the past/future blend is a Norfolk jacket made out of ripstop, with reflective nylon webbing . . . :>)

  • Bennelong Bicyclist says:

    Surely they the correct term is a Tweed Run, not a Tweed Ride? One has to be pukka.

  • Doug R. says:

    We Americans call it a Tweed Ride! We don’t need to be Pukka, We are independent of the Empire! Now go drink your tea like a good little limey!

  • Giffen says:

    Rick,

    It was nice of you to reply to my message! Thanks.

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