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.
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?
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.
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 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.
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.
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.