Pip Pip, Tallyho!

Posted on March 1, 2010 – 4:22 PM | by OldManFoster
  • Share

By Tony King

San Francisco has one. So does Philadelphia. The same with Portland, Baltimore and sunny San Diego. Thanks to the efforts of Rick and Erin Houston, Sacramento finally has its own tweed-themed cycling event. Yet despite the emphasis on riding in dashing attire, Sacramento’s Tweed Ride has less to do with fashion than it does with encouraging camaraderie within Sacramento’s bicycling community.

The first Tweed Run took place on January 24th, 2009 in London. The event harkened back to the cycling spirit of the 1930s and ‘40s, with participants dressing in traditional British tweed cycling outfits. According to The Brooks Bugle (the newspaper of the famed saddle and accouterment manufacturer, Brooks England, Ltd.), “the event brought in more than 200 riders and spawned a host of imitators worldwide.”

Rick Houston, an avid cyclist since he was a teenager, discovered the tweed riding phenomenon through a fellow named Mike Flanigan, who runs Alternative Needs Transportation (or A.N.T.), a small bicycle shop in Boston, and organizer of Bean Town’s first tweed ride.

“I remember he sent me a link to tweed rides,” says Rick’s wife, Erin Astleford Houston. “And we started thinking, ‘Why doesn’t Sacramento have something as cool as this?’”

Noticing that “Sacramento Tweed” wasn’t listed on Blogspot.com, Erin reserved the domain name and forwarded it to Rick. “That seemed to light a fire in him,” recalls Erin. “Before I knew it, we were having a tweed ride.”

“The first thing that I did was call Ed Cox,” says Rick. “He put me in touch with Lorena Beightler from SacCycleChic.com. He was like, ‘She loves fashion and bicycles, and this is right up your alley.’”

The Houstons contacted Rick Mahan, owner of One Speed Pizza and cycling enthusiast, and Brad Gleed, one of the original organizers of the annual Sacramento Appetite Enhancement Thanksgiving Day Ride. Gleed assisted with providing event organizing input, suggesting routes and rest breaks, and the ride’s duration. Mahan graciously opened the doors of One Speed to the event.

For all intents and purposes, the first official Sacramento Tweed Ride, which took place on November 7th, 2009, was a smashing success. So much so, in fact, that it nearly overwhelmed its organizers. “I was expecting to have a little coffee in the morning with 15 or 20 people,” Rick explains. The turnout on that sunny Sunday morning was closer to 80.

“There were so many people, the ride kind of overpowered the places we’d stop at,” says Cox, who rode his reproduction Penny-farthing high wheel bicycle. “Not that it’s a bad thing having lots of people on bikes going to events.”

The tour, which started around 11AM at the Sacramento Bicycle Kitchen, wound through The City of Trees with stops at the State Capitol, One Speed, The Bonn Lair pub, Revolution Wines, Hot Italian, ending around 6PM with groups splintering off to The Rubicon and The Shady Lady. The smaller New Year’s Day ride featured 50 cyclists braving rainy conditions, but having a great time nonetheless.

Gleed sees the Tweed Ride as a nice way to introduce new people to the cycling community. “It’s a nice, easy ride, it’s a lot of fun, and I think a lot of people would respond to that.”

“It’s kind of taken on a life of it’s own, but in a really positive way,” Rick notes of the Tweed Rides’ popularity. “I see the tweed rides as part of a sustainability movement of slow bicycling, if you will.”

The Sac Tweed Ride’s blogspot manifesto echoes this sentiment, favoring casual group riding in “plus fours” atop lugged steel steeds over lycra-clad speed racers straddling expensive carbon fiber machines.

“We’re not racers,” Rick points out. “If you want to define tweed riders, it’s not about the clothing, really. I mean, that’s the fun part about it. It’s more a matter of people getting together, riding slowly, riding responsibly, and just having a really good time.”

“There’s a shift in the idea of what cycling is all about,” Beightler explains. “The average person doesn’t want to be in lycra. They just want to wear their regular clothes. It’s the idea that cycling clothes are your best dress or your business suit. It’s an everyday feeling, and I think the tweed ride brings that all together.”

“My two favorite things are dressing up and riding my bike,” says the always-dapper Christopher Tafoya, who won the November ride’s “Best Moustache” prize. “The tweed ride brings a more social and practical element to bicycling.”

“I think the costumes are a good way to attract people who might not necessarily think of going on a group ride,” Erin adds. During both Tweed Rides, camaraderie trumped any pretentious behavior that normally plagues other group cycling events; it’s very difficult to be obnoxious while wearing turn-of-the-century bicycling outfits.

“A tweed ride is cool anywhere, but it’s the people that make it awesome,” says Philippe Cloutier, who along with his girlfriend, Cristina Friday, recently moved to Sacramento. “It definitely opened up Sacramento to us a little more,”

“It was very unexpected to have fun for that long,” adds Friday. “We thought, ‘Oh, we’re probably only going to be there for two or three hours at the most,’ but then we ended up hanging out with everyone all day long.”

“I remember taking pictures and thinking, ‘This could be in Copenhagen,’” remembers Breightler of November’s ride. “Seeing the streets of Sacramento full of cyclists in casual apparel and enjoying the beauty of our city, to me, was a sight to be seen.”

“What I was really struck by with the Tweed Ride is that we seem to have a little bit of everyone,” notes Erin of the cross section of cyclists that turned out. “We had the party riders. We had the Critical Mass riders. We had the people who hadn’t been on their bikes in years. It was great.”

The next Sac Tweed Ride will take place Sunday, March 28th, at 10:30AM starting at The Bike Kitchen. There will be a new route, new stops, and vendors such as B. Spoke Tailor will be on hand. Among the more substantial giveaways are two bicycles donated by The Bicycle Business. The Houstons also hope to drum up support for the woefully underfunded state advocacy group, the California Bicycle Coalition.

Above all, The Houstons want to encourage the communal aspect of Sacramento’s tweed ride. “That’s really what it’s all about,” Rick says, smiling.   80-plus cyclists decked-out in their finest tweeds couldn’t agree more.

for more info: sactotweed.blogspot.com

Tags: , , , ,

  1. 3 Trackback(s)

  2. Mar 26, 2010: WEEKEND UPDATE! | Midtown Monthly
  3. Apr 28, 2010: Sacramento for me? - walkable? bikable? diverse? laid-back? - California (CA) - Page 3 - City-Data Forum
  4. May 11, 2010: Art Picks, April 2010 | Midtown Monthly

Post a Comment