Tweed Speed

It was hot in NorCal today. When it gets this hot, extreme measures are called for. For one, the helmet goes in the bike bag (not recommending this, just reporting on it), special clothing is employed (shorts and sandals, no work clothes), and the pace slows down to what we call “tweed speed”.

Tweed speed isn’t a real term, it’s just something we came up with to describe the almost painfully slow pace experienced on social group rides. It’s a pace so slow that it would actually take more energy to ride any slower. It’s a pace that uses the weight of your legs to propel you forward and requires no more effort than taking the weight off of your upstroking leg for a moment. It’s the perfect pace for those times when your brain is roasting while sitting still in the shade. In other words, it was the perfect pace for this afternoon’s triple-digit commute.

21 Responses to “Tweed Speed”

  • Mike says:

    Funny, I realized today I tend to go faster when it gets hot. Your system makes more sense, but I think I have the idea that I’ll get it over a bit quicker and can always jump in the pool when I’m done.

  • RI Swamp Yankee says:

    Yugg. It’s been a hot summer over here on the E-Co, too, even in New England. The humidity is the killer – I’ve had balmy 75-degree mornings where my t-shirt and dress shirts were both plastered to me, because the humidity was so high. Exert even a little bit, like tooling up one of the San-Fran-steep hills hereabouts, and you sweat like a hog.

    I usually drive into the office on Sundays, as the commuter rail doesn’t start up until almost noon, and I get to park in the VIP lot under the building, and bring in a week’s worth of office clothes. That way, I can drench my riding clothes (usually jeans, t-shirt and hawaiian shirt – even in the snows of winter) and still look pressed and professional after changing at the office.

    My schedule lately has been a bit more fluid, so I’m missing more Sundays, and I can’t drive in during weekdays, due to both traffic and parking. Eventually, I’ll be working Mon-Fri, eliminating the clothing-run altogether.

    There are clothing folders out there, and they work – but I’m a big dude. Two 12″ folders handles a shirt and pair of chinos, with a little wrinkling. A 20″ folder handles three full sets of clothes, but how to strap it to your bike in bad weather? (We’re getting a lot of that out here, too, this summer.)

    My wife just got me a Knog Big Dry Dog.

    Downers: could really, really do without the naked-people graphics, especially as I unwrap it in front of kids and grandparents. Could really, really do with a utility pocket under the flap that doesn’t require me to undo the whole main compartment to stow a few lights, phone and keys. If you have to feed your stuff through an X-ray machine and metal detector everyday, this is a consideration – easier to empty your pockets into an external pocket on the bag than into the personal-effects-tray, which you then have to retrieve on the other end. No place to mount blinkies or u-lock.

    Props: Kickflix mount that beats the pointy-spear-of-death ratchet system on my old Detours pannier. Thick shoulder strap with metal buckles and metal clips to hold it out of the way when mounted on the bike. Subtle but BRIGHT reflective graphics. Biiig – it can fit a pair of 20″ packing folders, so long as they aren’t too thick… plus spare tube, tool-kit, inflatable travel pillow, paperback, rain cape, fleece and MacBook. (Tho maybe not all at once – I’ll get back to you on that.)

    The good outweighs the bad, IMO. Since my Wife bought it for me, unasked, I’m fond of it, and intent on making it work.

    In the spirit of DIY, I may attempt to rivet an army-navy-surplus canvas ammo pouch to the outside of the main compartment, both to cover up the naked dude and to provide a place to stow my lights and keys on the fly. The flap plus canvas offers “good enough” water protection (and silicone putty keeps the rain out at the rivet points, too.)

  • Rick says:

    LOL! I’ll try not to take this post personally… :-))

  • Max says:

    I think the equivalent in British english would be ‘pootling’. It is impossible to pootle unless other people are going faster than you.

  • Joseph E says:

    It was only a little over 90 F here near the coast, but I sure felt it.

    Do you wear bike-specific shorts, or are swim trunks or casual shorts fine?

    I did an unusual 9-mile commute (each way) today, starting at noon, and regretted wearing my black work pants and shoes.

  • Jimbo says:

    Hmmm.. What about sun protection? Living in a part of the world with the highest rate of melanoma mortality on earth, that warm photo gives me cold shivers!

  • Alan says:

    @RI Swamp Yankee

    Thanks for the report on the Knog bag!

  • Alan says:


    “Pootling”… I like that. :-)

  • Alan says:


    No offense intended! Slow is good, fast is good… it’s all good.

  • Alan says:

    @Joseph E

    I like breathable hiking shorts – I’ve been buying them from REI for years.

  • Alan says:


    “What about sun protection?”

    Sun protection is certainly important and it’s something I should pay closer attention to.

  • Pete says:

    I think the coasts are swapping weather this year. We had many 90+ days on July here in the east, but I hear that NorCal has been pretty cool. Today it’s barely breaking 70 in NYC, while it’s hot out there.
    I’ve embraced synthetics in the hot weather – they don’t stay damp or cling, and with the right colors or patterns they don’t show sweat as much.

  • bongobike says:

    I’ve gotten so acclimated to the heat by now that I did something I thought would have killed me at the beginning of the summer. I rode 20+ miles round trip with my son to go buy some parts at the bike shop. But I was all excited to take out my brand new RANS V2 Formula LE on its first ride outside of the ‘hood, so I was pedaling like a mad man in the 100+ degree heat between 4 and 6 pm, the hottest part of the day. To my surprise I felt not just fine, but great! I was still pumped up hours later. :-)

  • Rick says:


    “Pootling”? I love it! When we create the posters for this Fall’s ride (November 7th, if anyone’s interested), I can guarantee you that “pootling” will be somewhere on the finished version!!

    Thanks for the heads-up! (Hands across the pond, and all that…)

  • Max says:

    Of course, to pootle properly needs a bicycle finished in British Pootling Green (, which is like British Racing Green (, only slower.

  • Don says:

    I like tweed speed as a term. I usually commute in workout clothes, but when I go somewhere on a hot day on my lunch hour, “tweed speed” is an apt description. It’s a little like that langorous gait people in the south sometimes adopt in hot weather. I like to break a sweat as much as anybody, but there are times when avoiding it is a priority.

  • CedarWood says:

    Sun protection for this pasty-face equals sunhat (with chin-tie) and a long-sleeved cotton shirt that’s both lightweight and light-colored.

    The other day, I saw a fellow lay a white T-shirt over his head so the tail draped over his neck and the short sleeves covered both cheeks. Then he put on his helmet over the shirt, but I like a bit more form with my function.

  • Fergie348 says:

    I’m glad you’re not actually advocating wearing tweed while riding in heat. That would be awful..

  • Dottie says:

    Glad to hear I’m not the only one who appreciates a cool head on a hot day :)

  • taiwoon says:

    i live in Sunny Singapore and it is hot summery all year round. How we beat the heat is to ride early in the morning, say 730 before sun is up. This makes for a cooling ride which almost everyone who joins us is very surprised on how comfortable it can get. We usually have a tees/ berms / sport shoes dress combo and just ride away . I bring along water or sometimes a camelbak to hydrate myself…or heatstroke is a real possibility. We end our rides at noon… at a eating place/cafe… the challenging part is to return home with the blazing sun… or sometimes it would pour like crazy.. I guess this is nature way of telling us that something is wrong…

    If u happen to be in Singapore some day, pls do let me know and I would love to ride with u and talk about bike and life!

  • WPM says:

    I’m pro-choice when it comes to helmet use and also occasionally go without, so the following is not meant to judge. That said, I found the words of Mark Tuttle, Jr. (the editor of Rider Magazine) on motorcycle helmets rather applicable to bicycling. I’ll replace the word motorcycle with bicycle in 3 places and you can see what I mean.

    “…there are four indisputable facts about [bicycle] riding: 1) [bicycles] fall down or run into hard things occasionally, sometimes by themselves, sometimes with a rider aboard, often causing the rider to fall down and run into something hard too. 2) Functioning [bicycle] helmets do not increase the likelihood that this will happen in any way, assuming they’re properly worn on one’s head. 3) If when the rider falls down or runs into something hard he is not wearing a functioning helmet and hits his head, he will be worse off than if he were wearing one. 4) There are a lot of hard things out there to hit with your head.”

    (Source: “In Our Experience,” Rider Magazine, Sept. 1995, p. 10.)

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