Does Tweed Run = midlife crisis?

 Two things happened this week. First an eagerly awaited parcel containing a Rouleur musette [1] arrived. Second, I actually met someone who’d heard of the Tweed Run. I’d been a bit sheepish about the whole thing following a conversation at home which took this route.

Me       “What’s happening on Saturday 26th November?”

Wife     “Why?”

Me       “…er, well there’s this bike ride called the Tweed Run”

Wife     “but you’ll want to go out on Sunday morning too, won’t you?”

Me       “no I won’t ,anyway I’ve got one of 200 invites to this bike ride, you’ve got to have an old bike to go”

Wife     “sounds perfect for you, blokes on obscure vintage bikes…by the way are you having some kind of mid-life crisis?”

Does it really constitute a mid-life crisis? I suppose in the same way as shed envy or over-enthusiasm for allotment growing or bread making it might, but it’s harmless, or so I hope.  The Tweed Run is a gathering of folks in period garb, tweed being the preference, for a bike ride. For bikes, pretty much anything vintage goes: Penny Farthings, old single speeds, vintage racing bikes, clunking roadsters – if it’s old you’re in. The run’s gone global with runs in London, New York, Florence and Tokyo). This event should be a perfect storm as this year marks the 100th anniversary of Harris Tweed. a fact that hasn’t overlooked the fashion industry, with Ralph Lauren as sponsors.

There’s no strict vetting process, but I’ve developed a handy screener if you’re thinking of going. If you can tick at least three of the following then you’re eligible, five and you really should be there. This list applies to chaps and gals.

  • You have facial hair that is not a goatee or designer stubble. A “Movember” moustache doesn’t count
  • You are a regular user of a cut throat razor
  • You own, or have ever used a pipe [2]
  • You consider the style of Sherlock Holmes to have been foolishly overlooked by the world’s fashion houses
  • Your hosiery requires suspenders [3]
  • Your shirt collars can be detached
  • You have been called a “dandy” or a “cad” [4]
  • You have heard of the Chap magazine (double tick for a purchase, three ticks if you’re a subscriber)
  • You own more than one bike with a steel frame
  • You drink tea made in a pot with tea leaves
  • You know what an “action back” on a man’s blazer is

Chap magazine awareness, steel bikes and blazer design knowledge get me in. Also being quick of the mark to sign up for one of the 250 places helps.

This will be an exciting opportunity to meet a cycling species I call “Tweedistas”. I’m going to have to blend in with this group which could be tricky as I don’t own Plus Fours or anything made from tweed. The slightest mistake could give me away – hence needing the Rouleur Musette to transport my Box Brownie and Thermos of Earl Grey.

My outfit (or “rig out” as the Welsh would say) will be an 8 button, double breasted wool navy jacket, grey roll neck jumper (think Das Boot, not Val Doonican), brown wool trousers and brown leather ankle boots. The hat is still causing some concern: deerstalker, baker boy, flat cap, bowler, pork pie, pith helmet – it’s a minefield. I now know why girls take so long to get ready.

The bike will of course be the trusty fixed wheel Allin, resplendent in full chrome mudguards and new hand-stitched buffalo leather handlebar covering. So with a hearty “tally ho” and “chocks away” I’ll be on my way to Londinium on the 26th. A typed report in triplicate will follow.

[1] Rouleur is a sort of “thinking man’s cycling magazine” in the same way that Penthouse used to be a bastion of feature writing. Both are just a thin veil of diversion from the true focus of male attention. A “musette” is a cotton bag worn over the shoulder to contain provisions. Racing cyclists are handed these by their back up team during a race.

[2] Containing only tobacco

[3] American readers note, in England trousers are not held up with suspenders. They require a belt and/or braces. Occasionally both, never neither – and that’s the law.

[4] The term “tosser” may have been used by scaffolders

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