Tweed, Indeed: The Tweed Run

A charming poster inviting riders to tweed up for the Dallas event.

Undoubtedly inspired by the large-scale tweed run held last January in London, these events seem to be popping up everywhere (Ridingpretty provides a nice clearinghouse of them at this link).  Like all good things, I imagine the shelf-life on the trend of tweed rides will be sadly limited, and they will surely take on the air of the mustache party and similar events in no time.  But until then, I am enjoying the pictures of these rides that are filtering in all over the Net, and the fashion they provoke.

Tweed Runs are a great showcase of dandy fashion, but men tend to predominate. Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/booksnake/3223843376/

Whether it’s biking culture, in general, or the specifics and logistics of finding dapper tweed outfits appropriate for these rides, gents do indeed seem to predominate.  Can more women become involved and find the fashions the rides mandate?

Cognition Caps

Typically, I’m not really one for headgear. Hats are a tricky thing, and the wrong one can really be an unflattering misstep. The other day, however, while taking my first real spring excursion on my bike, I stopped in at a local shop and decided to do something about the terrible bedhead I was sporting.

Enter Cognition Caps, a local (to me) company of a duo who is making these at home out of classic patterns and materials.

Cognition handmakes its cycling caps in a variety of patterns and fabrics, including classic herringbone and a variety of plaids.

I picked out a cap in a tartan, dropped a reasonable $25 on the purchase, and have been perplexing, amusing and annoying friends and loved ones ever since by almost never removing it from my cranium save for sleep. It goes with everything and has a boyish appeal that does not feel unflattering and maintains a feminine playfulness. For actual cycling or for streetwear, it’s been a great addition to my wardrobe.

Check out the Cognition site for more information, or this brief note on Urban Velo.

Weekend Spring Cycling Part 2: Annie

Annie is a local who spends a lot of time riding, whether commuting to and from work every day or spending weekends training for charity rides on her road bike.  For everyday riding, she often chooses a retro commuter from Trek, whose three speeds can be tricky when negotiating the hills on the way to the office.

Annie rides a retro Trek for a daily commute.

Annie rides a retro Trek for her daily commute.

The weather is still cold, so scarf, jacket and gloves are a necessity.  Annie wears them all when cycling around town to run errands or meet friends for coffee, and includes a felt hat, although she is quick to point out, “I usually wear a helmet!”  With her casual look that is still highly functional for cycling, Annie epitomizes the type of urban chic that allows for person-powered transportation while not relegating one to spandex and butt padding  better reserved for long rides.

Annie's functional style for weekend and weekday.

Weekend Spring Cycling Part 1: Banjo Bicycles and Kara Ginther Saddles

This blog is quickly giving itself over to bicycle-related themes, and I would be concerned, were it not for the fact that the kind of looks and fashion I want to highlight seems to be inextricably linked to biking transport and lifestyle. The weekend provided a number of opportunities to explore both, as I came across much worthy of documenting – enough to break them up into two post.

The first encounter took place outside a local market, where I came upon a trio of bikers about to embark on a bonfire and picnic at a local city woods. Upon further examination, it became clear that I was looking at a singular bicycle, a bespoke frame created by its rider with assists from his two companions for wood and metal work, and has just hung out his own shingle as Banjo Bicycles:

This Banjo Bicycle v1.0 is decked out for travel and hauling, but much of the fine detail is apparent in this quick shot.

Designer Ahren is creating bikes to fit the rider, from a variety of materials that he fashions together himself. His friend fashioned the wooden fenders, and the bike is outfitted with leather and metal accents.

A bit of detail, including the Banjo badge.

Perhaps most exciting was the discovery of a Kara Ginther saddle, recently described in a post below. I’ve never seen one in the flesh, but it was instantly recognizable on Ahren’s bike:

A Kara Ginther modified Brooks saddle, on a Banjo bicycle.

Check out the Banjo site for more information about what Ahren is doing with his handmade bicycles, and see Kara Ginther’s for more information about her designs on Brooks saddles.

Ahren of Banjo Bicycles on his handmade custom steed.

The Elusive Brogue

The "Harry" in a fantastic red.

The impetus behind starting this site was, in no small part, due to my personal frustration with locating footwear sized for women but in the classic styling I most appreciate. Beyond the serendipity of simply locating a vintage pair in a second-hand shop, my search has taken me back to England, where the style is much more prevalent (perhaps to a problematic extent – most of the best offerings are long sold out, and the style may have already achieved critical mass there).

Another search has pointed me to a contender, in the guise of the Pied-à-Terre “Harry,” below.

The Pied-à-Terre "Harry," retailing for around $250.

As is my habit, I was attracted immediately to the tan colorway, as I prefer the showcasing of the natural beauty of the leather whenever possible.  But the “Harry” is offered in a choice of four colors, including two exciting yet understated options in blue and red:

Either of these could put me one step closer to obtaining the perfect brogue, to be paired with a well-loved favorite pair of jeans, just in time for spring.

More on Biking for Spring

As eluded to yesterday, the springtime air portends a lot of bike-riding time.  Although I confess to having trouble getting behind the mindset of biking without gears or brakes, I do appreciate the aesthetic simplicity of many fixed-gear/single-speed/track bikes, which are often put together as odes to minimalism and, as such, lack excessive cabling and hardware.  Not long ago, I came across a picture of a Soma frame that had been built up with what I believe are some wooden deep Vs from Velocity.

A Soma frame built up with wooden rims makes for a charming commuter.

Coupled with simple leather accessories for saddlebag, handlebars and cages, this bike is totally charming and has a classic appeal.  I imagine that the addition of a hand-decorated Brooks saddle from the artist I highlighted in my last post would be the ultimate addition to what is already nearing aesthetic perfection, in my mind.  Doesn’t it look like fun to ride?

Of course, women and biking go back as long as both have existed, and treating the activity as one of not just recreation but of style and aesthetic import is nothing new, either – not to mention how transgressive bicycles were for women in the early days.  Just take a look at Frances Benjamin Johnson for one early example:

A dapper Frances Benjamin Johnson dons masculine attire in preparation for a bicycle ride.

In Honor of Spring: Custom Leather Bicycle Saddles

There is no denying that spring is now definitively upon us and, in my city at least, so, too, is the compulsion to get back out on our bikes. As with everything, a personal touch can make standard objects so much interesting, and enjoyable, to use.

Here with an exclusive is a spotlight on an artist local to me who is making beautiful, intricate designs on the already classic Brooks saddles. Kara Ginther is a leatherworker who creates original designs using the saddles as her medium.

A modified herringbone image brings dynamism and movement to this classic black leather saddle.

What a way to take a bespoke and artistic touch to your daily commute. Visit the website for more shots of what this artist is creating.

A Brooks saddle is altered with leatherworking techniques, making an already unique and classic saddle into a work of art.