From Tweed to Beer

It was nothing like the dank chills of the Scottish Highlands—in fact it was clear, dry, and nearly eighty degrees—but unseasonal heat couldn’t quash the urge of two hundred LA area cyclists to dress in tweed and spin the pedals in an elegant if disorganized phalanx all around North Hollywood last Saturday.

It was time for CICLE‘s annual Tweed Ride, and the NoHo Arts District provided the stage setting for fine outfits, some of them eminently practical for everyday use, and some of which went beyond into costuming.

And of course some folks rode in jeans, or team kit, or even board shorts—which is all good. Conviviality, not correctness, was the goal—although I must admit that the stick-on moustaches were upstaged by some magnificent follicular displays that must have taken months to grow and tend, and which were shown off during the moustache contest at the after-party.

I was there, with my skinny old self decked out in my usual gabardines, which, although not vintage nor even truly vintage-styled, are, let us say, “tweed adjacent,” and very comfortable in hot SoCal weather.

We gathered at a sad park bisected by a freeway, though its trees kept the traffic noise down, and pedaled slowly and graciously off on a short round through NoHo’s tranquil residential blocks, inspiring smiles in all the folks out watering their lawns, walking their dogs, and chasing their kids, and even those driving their motorcars. This was to me the most valuable aspect of the ride: showing pedalers and onlookers alike that you can ride a bike on the streets without needing to pack along a double serving of courage or an outlaw attitude. Many of the folks we rolled past asked what the occasion was, and said they hoped to join in next time.

In other words, the ride exposed all concerned to the rest of the cycling story, that vast narrative that transcends the hipsters and messengers, the shredders and tricksters, so beloved of our halfwitted mainstream media.

We stopped at the Great Wall of LA, a moving half-mile-long mural in the Tujunga Wash, depicting the forgotten histories of our city, then returned to the vicinity of the Metro station for a look at a grand old Art Deco theater, before adjourning to the Federal Bar, where beer and vittles made up for the entirely non-arduous eight-mile ramble.

Silliness, happiness, bikes, good PR, and a cold beer on a hot day…it works for me!

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