Nearly 80 dapper cyclists from all over the bay area and beyond gathered in the shade of the Fruitvale BART rails on Sunday to celebrate the combination of sunshine, bike lanes and classic tweed.
Yes, tweed–the heavy wool fabric more commonplace in a PBS miniseries than the streets of Oakland in September.
Raising her megaphone to the crowd, Renee Rivera, executive director of the East Bay Bicycle Coalition (EBBC), called into action the coalition’s first Great Western Tweed Ride.
While the original Tweed Ride happened in London in the 1990s as a way of celebrating the bygone Golden Era of the classic bicycle and the tweed suits tailored to its riders, Sunday’s leisurely jaunt is further proof that the bicycle is enjoying a type of resurgence. Oakland’s four-hour ride ended at the Linden Street Brewery where riders dismounted for brews and barbecue.
“Now, this is a tweed ride. It’s a nice stately pace. It’s not so fast to break a sweat because, well, we’re in tweed,” Rivera said to the crowd.
“It’s like combining two of my favorite things–costumes and bicycles,” said Melissa Bryden, with a full-length tweed skirt and red feather hat.
Sporting high-waist tweed trousers and an embroidered vest salvaged from a thrift store, Courtney Greenlee rode along with Nina Simone crooning from the portable mp3 player in her wire bike basket.
Nan Eastep, the top-hatted owner of B-Spoke Tailoring, a co-sponsor of the event, said she makes all of her vintage-inspired suites cyclist friendly. Fellow tweed riders admired one another’s fabrics and grinned for Instagram photos against distressed brick backgrounds.
“We do a lot of advocacy rides where we get the local council people out in their cities on bikes, but we’re trying to do more fun rides like this,” Rivera said.
Made possible by miles of bike lanes connecting Fruitvale to the Port of Oakland to Alameda to the Embarcadero to Lake Merritt and beyond, the Tweed Ride is a chance for EBBC to showcase its partnership with the city to retrofit Oakland’s bicycle infrastructure under the Bicycle Master Plan.
It’s also a chance for residents from Oakland and surrounding Bay Area cities to show off their classic riding attire and enjoy a slow, easy ride with friends and family.
Katherine Bevcar and Samuel Coniglio, both of Oakland, rode along on their double-bike car–a homemade contraption hand-welded by Coniglio and Bevcar and complete with a trunk and fringed awning with a dainty chandelier overhead. The two served Earl Grey to fellow tweed riders at the Lake Merritt Pillars as bike mounting and genteel insult contests ensued.
“We actually built this for Burning Man,” Bevcar said.
“Last time we had tweed-wrapped bikes,” added Coniglio, “but they were stolen.”