Gotta get my tweed on!

The 3rd Annual Kansas City Tweed Ride, April 14, 2012!

There’s a growing community of bicycling enthusiasts in Kansas City and one of the funnest groups with whom to enjoy a two-wheeled perambulation is gathering next Saturday in Kessler Park for their annual “afternoon of sophisticated social revelry.” Bikes and riders of every ilk will dress in turn of the century wools, tweeds, silks and argyles, and some amazing machines will be on display. Most of these machines are not simply for exhibition and riders will enjoy a leisurely group ride — this is, after all, “about style not speed, elegance, not exertion” — through an historic Victorian neighborhood. Cliff Drive is a very pleasantly scenic route through an area many in the metropolitan area are absolutely unaware even exists.

One of the things I appreciate most about this event is that “tweed” is pretty broadly defined to include a lot of territory. In general, if it’s vintage it will fit in — Roaring 20’s, knickers, tweed jackets, hoop skirts… some riders even show up on hipster bikes and flower-power attire dating to the 60’s… everyone is welcome here! (Although be forewarned: for the afternoon, we are a decidely spandex-free zone!)

For past rides I’ve tried my hand at modifying slacks into knickers. I’m not much of a tailer, but with a bit of marginal quality stitching — and as long as you don’t get close enough to notice the occasional staple here and there — my efforts are passable. I found a pair of jodhpurs in a military surplus store that fit me and I may use those, along with a tweed jacket and cap for this years ride. I’ve also considered attempting to replicate a mid-20th century French cyclo-tourist outfit, or to go very 40’s French bicycling chic with a beret, baggy trousers, and a horizontally-banded pullover (or an ascot!) This appeals to me in some ways because it would give me an opportunity to parade my Follis.

Another option for me is to go with argyles and faux-knickers on the Raleigh Rapide path racer conversion, as I did in this year’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade. It’s large and comfy and fits the “look” of the tweed ride quite well.

This outfit had me looking a bit like a vintage golfer!

My winter project was a 1949 Elswick Light Roadster. I swapped out the three speed wheel for a 50’s era single speed coaster brake so that I could use a matching wheelset on the build. It cleaned up nicely and even though it’s a bit of a bear to ride around on, it might yet get called on for this week’s event.

In this image I have a pair of Swiss military ammunition bags modified for use as panniers, however I have since come across a nice wicker basket for the rear rack that looks just spiffy on the Elswick.


2 thoughts on “Gotta get my tweed on!

  1. I’m happy to see that these rides are getting quite popular across the nation and not just in bikecentric cities (IE: San Fran, NYC, Portland, etc.). They look like a blast complete with gorgeous bikes and interesting people. Now I just need a bike that fits the event.
    Speaking of, all three of your tweed-worthy bikes are fantastic, especially that Follis. Oooh la la!
    I also like the Raleigh Rapide with its racer bars and, I’m guessing, elk hide handle grips?

    Great post!

    • Yes, it is elk hide. I got several scraps for next to nothing at Tandy Leather last year and have made several items (including a set of brake hoods!) from the material. I really LOVE the way this stuff feels on my palms when I ride.

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