Monday, 13 September 2010

And I Missed It!

Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Trade shorts for knickerbockers

Steven Stothers and Joan Padgett will take a jaunt back in time for the endearingly old-fashioned Tweed Ride, which co­incides with Ciclovia on Sunday.

Steven Stothers and Joan Padgett will take a jaunt back in time for the endearingly old-fashioned Tweed Ride, which co­incides with Ciclovia on Sunday. (DAVID LIPNOWSKI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

Cyclists have long known the importance of wearing proper attire when putting the pedal to the mettle.

"If you have a wheel, gentlemen, you need a Bicycle Suit," reads an advertisement from a popular Winnipeg retailer. "You need it because it is proper to be becomingly and fashionably attired, but chiefly because it will greatly add to your comfort while riding."

The days of $5 Hudson's Bay bicycle suits may be long gone, but a day of very stylish, old-fashioned bicycling is just up ahead.

Don some classic woollen duds and pack your parasols, ladies: Winnipeg's first-ever Tweed Ride takes place Sunday, and that means we're going to pedal like it's 1899.

A tweed ride/run is when hundreds of impeccably dressed ladies and gents wheel across town on vintage and vintage-inspired bicycles because, well, it's jolly good fun.

London reportedly had the world's first tweed ride in January of 2009, when 150 dapper cyclists pedalled from Savile Row to Bethnal Green. San Francisco, Chicago, Washington, Sydney and other major cities have since followed suit.

The chap in charge of Winnipeg's inaugural event is Steven Stothers, 48, a software manager and cycling enthusiast who also likes "history and old things," and who decided it was high time we all went for a slow ride.

"In this fast-paced world of Spandex and Lycra, it just seemed like a kind of goofy and traditional thing to do," says Stothers, who writes a dandy blog on the subject at www.

The 10-kilometre ride will sally forth from Assiniboine Park Pavilion at 2 p.m. sharp (come early to hear some old-time banjo tunes) and conclude at 6 p.m. with libations at the King's Head Pub.

Tweed riders are encouraged to pack a snack for a scheduled stop at Memorial Park, which will also include a croquet game. Popping into the Fort Garry Hotel for tea is another option.

The Tweed ride coincides with Ciclovia, the city's second annual bike-and-pedestrian festival, but is not officially part of it, Stothers says.

He invites riders to meet at the replica streetcar on Broadway at around 4 p.m. to pose for group and individual photos, which will be included in a Tweed Ride photo gallery to commemorate the outing.

As for what to wear, leave the fleece and stretchy shorts at home and opt for such fashionable (circa early 1900s) attire as newsboy caps, vests, knickers, pantaloons, cardigans and bow ties. Pipes, monocles, mutton-chop sideburns and handlebar moustaches are also a nice touch. Ladies will look sweet upon their bike seats in full-length skirts, high-necked blouses and flapper-style hats, perhaps twirling a parasol.

Vintage clothing stores and second-hand shops are your best resources. Visit Stothers' blog for inspiration. It has links to photo archives that show what free-wheeling SSRqPeggers wore back in the day. (Yes, bike helmets tend to clash with tweed, but safety first. Don't be a rapscallion.)

If you don't have a vintage bike, weave some colourful streamers through your spokes.

"It just has to look like a period piece; it doesn't have to be a period piece, says Stothers.

"But if someone could bring a penny farthing bike, that'd be awesome."


Tweed Ride

Starts at Assiniboine Park Pavilion

Sunday, 2 p.m.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 11, 2010 C6

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