Tweed Clad Dandies
We’ve had a couple of reasons to visit the thrift stores in town recently. You never know what you are going to find and this week we needed tweed. And possibly bike baskets. Maybe even knickers and argyle socks.
Some of the same folks who are a big part of the active Bike Polo League here in Little Rock decided to organize a Tweed Ride. Is Little Rock big enough and cool enough to pull off an event typically held in cities like London and Toronto? Why yes it is. Bring on the handlebar mustaches and vintage bikes! We didn’t have any vintage bikes around our house but while on a tweed finding mission to a local thrift store, I saw this 1980 or so Schwinn World Sport, covered in cobwebs and old spider sacs, sitting in the back of the store. While I was seriously disappointed that it was too big for me, I knew J would love it. It seemed to ride okay. Yes I did take it for a spin inside the store. The rear derailleur needs work and the brakes aren’t perfect but it made it through Sunday’s short 5 mile ride like a champ. It even had the original Schwinn approved rack on the back to hold J’s Grampie’s suitcase. When asked what he was carrying in the suitcase, he quipped “One never knows what might be needed on a ride. Scotch perhaps?”
The weather Sunday was perfect, sunshine and mid 50′s by the time the ride was to start. As we pulled into the parking lot of the Clinton Library, we realized that we were not the only ones who thought this was a grand day for a leisurely bike ride through town, even wearing tweed. There were more than 70 cyclists! Since about 80 RSVP’d via the Facebook Event page and we all know how well RSVPs work these days, I think 73 is a great turnout. In addition there were a few media types who had gotten the word about some grown people playing dress up to ride bikes and a local photography club was well represented. J was so incredibly dapper in his thrift store jacket and homemade knickers that he had difficulty taking many pictures because everyone wanted to take pics of him and his sweet new/old bike. I was amazed at some of the ensembles that people managed to put together. There were some that looked like they had been digging in Great-Grandma’s attic. I love this look. I wonder if in 100 years, our descendants will be dressing up by wearing hoochie shorts with “JUICY” printed across the butt. Gawd I hope not. Please lord, no. After a big group shot on a grassy knoll outside the library, we all mounted our bikes and took off through downtown.
The looks on the faces of the few people downtown were priceless. So often, when wearing spandex and even when not going full tilt, cyclists get looks of utter annoyance, sometimes downright hatred. But these people were smiling, pointing, pulling out their phones to take video and pictures. It was a nice change to help people remember that riding bikes is supposed to be fun. We rode across the river via the Main Street bridge, to Argenta and back across the bridge to return to Little Rock for a stop at the Old Statehouse Museum for a quick photo op. The next destination would be the State Capitol building but we didn’t stop for photos.
As we traveled back through downtown I was beginning to look forward to the final destination. The Capital Hotel and the Capital Bar and Grill. One of the management staff of the hotel happens to be a cyclist and we rode together for most of the trip. The staff welcomed us and instead of using the valet to park our bikes (which they have done! cause they’re cool like that) they allowed us to parade the bikes through the lobby and into the ballroom for safe keeping. Most of the group stayed for drinks, many had a late lunch or appetizers as well. The staff was patient and understanding and I hope our group returned the favor. How often does the Capital Bar and Grill get 60+ cyclists in for food and drink on a late Sunday afternoon? The fact that we were all in “costume” only makes it better. There was Tweed Bike Polo afterward as well but that is something we haven’t picked up, yet. Maybe it’s time to try yet another new thing on bikes? There has been “chatter” about a seersucker ride in the summer. I don’t know if that’s going to happen but I am all in for another Tweed Ride.