The Need for Tweed

By RYAN NEWHOUSE

Last Sunday, about 50+ riders donned their dandiest tweed-inspired garb and rode their bikes through the gray, wet streets of Missoula for the first annual Missoula Tweed Ride. The ride raised funds for a local non-profit preschool, Spirit At Play, and was based on a growing trend in the cycling culture – the chance to combine a love of bikes with an obsession for style.

The event’s lead organizer, Allison Goodman, thought Missoula needed to start this tradition after only having learned to ride a bike herself this past August. With new bike in hand, an arsenal of trendy attire and the desire to do good in our community, the Missoula Tweed Ride wasborn.

Riders gathered at McCormick Park at noon for hot cider, hot chocolate and a little “jolly good” conversation in their best British accents. The main topic of discussion: the dapper attire in which everyone embraced the spirit of the ride.

Tweed Rides are popping up all over the world after enjoying great success in London, which hosted the first ever Tweed Run on January 24, 2009. 400 cyclists pedaled through city streets in traditional British cycling attire and on many vintage bicycles. Now Missoula has joined the ranks of San Francisco, Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia, Toronto, Paris, Riga, Sydney, Tokyo, Washington, D.C. and Durango, Colorado.

In addition to a leisurely few-mile jaunt around town, the ride’s midpoint included a stop for tea at Break Espresso and group photo near the red X’s on N. Higgins Avenue. Riders eventually made their way to Free Cycles for a fashion show, live music, drinks, mugs of soup and general merriment. Prizes were awarded to the “Most Dapper Chap,” “Most Dandy Lass,” “Most Marvelous Moustache,” “Most Snappy Steed” and “Most Stylish Do.”

Next year, organizers plan to hold the event a little earlier in the fall (although the gray skies lent to an authentic London experience) and expect ridership to at least double or triple. Not only was the event family-friendly, but the live music courtesy of local band, Steel Toe Flo’s, kept the wee ones hopping around on the dance floor at Free Cycles.

So until next year’s Missoula Tweed Ride – Cheerio, mates!

Photo: the author posing with his prize-winning “Snappy Steed”

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Ryan Newhouse has pedaled through thousands of miles of Missoula’s streets and trails as a commuter, long-distance cyclist, recreationist and former city bicycling ambassador. Although he now works from home, he still uses two feet or two wheels to push or pull himself and his daughter around town.  Back to Ryan Newhouse Blog homepage.