Under a cloudy sky, the transformation through time had been in an instant. No longer neon cycling shoes or stretchy fabrics were being worn by whizzing cyclists but, a more demure, subtle and positively Dickensian look had taken over.
Brogues to Breeches, wools and pocket handkerchiefs adorned a collection of bespoke attire with bicycles that looked as though they were from a film set from days gone by. Not only had Ortlieb been put away but straw picnic hampers filled with bottles of champers and smoked salmon sandwiches were in. Cycling helmets were replaced by an enormous array of headwear with cloth caps taking the majority.
The sound of chatting filled the air, eyes were persistently scanning other peoples outfits and everyone was out in their very Sunday Best. Slowly moving through the crowds a military man from the beginning of the 20th century began to blow his bugle.
The wheels started turning, the chatting didn’t stop and the entire group slowly moved down the road like an incredibly large tweed patchwork eiderdown.
Moving from one street to the next, members of the public simply stopped and stared. All day Black Cab drivers waved and cheered us on, buses gave us a courteous and very wide berth whilst the chatting went on and on.
Iphones and Gopros were the only hint of modern-day cycling. Feathers were unruffled, hipflasks were shared and London absorbed us like a well-worn sofa.
Bromptons moving alongside penny-farthings, tandems and truly vintage bicycles maintained a level of staring magic that members of the public absorbed like a sponge. It was an extra-ordinary sight.
Elevenses in Tavistock Square was a moment to catch up with friends before it was time to head west. Through Westminster surrounded by architecture that enhanced the dress code of the day, along Bayswater Road where other road users excelled themselves with their enthusiasm in seeing such a sight. The bicycle bantering did not stop.
Into Kensington Gardens for lunch (which should probably be called luncheon), a tug of war and the most enormous variety of picnic lunches ever seen. Crusts off or on, Pimms or wine, flasks of tea or coffee surrounded by the most incredible bike storage the Prince Albert Memorial has ever seen. The group photo and hats off hip-hip-hooray moment will stay with me for a long time.
Back on the road, alongside Buckingham Palace and into Parliament Square before heading over the bridge where the famous structure surrounding Big Ben looked down on the tweed group moving over the bridge – the sound of chatting and laughter ever consistent.
13.5 miles later we were back where we started for drinks in the gardens where the atmosphere of the day never faltered and continued long into the evening.
“Tweed (noun)- a coarse wool cloth in a variety of weaves and colors, either hand-spun and handwoven in Scotland or reproduced, often by machine, elsewhere”. The irony of weaving our way around London matched the eclectic weave of the tweeds on display making The Tweed Run a very, very special day.