IT has been described as a cross between a 19th century British costume party and a creative stage of the Tour-de-France.
It was certainly most curious, and attending the event were thousands of participants attired in Victorian-era clothing.
Many wore waistcoats, ascots and smoked hooked pipes. Some even had the sideburns, beards and top hats typical of Charles Dickens-era London.
The attending women (and there were many) wore petticoats, corsets, shawls and the quintessential 19th century bonnets.
What was most bizarre however was that the participants were pedaling bicycles, many of which were classic vintage bicycles.
Was this event part of a film production for a British themed movie? Was it some sort of English costume party? Were we actually somewhere in England? The answer to all the above is a resounding NO… the event took place this month in Madrid.
Allow me to elaborate… known as The Tweed Ride, originally started in London in the early 1990s’, the event has grown exponentially to include cities like New York, San Francisco, Sao Paulo, Moscow, Tokyo and Sydney, Australia.
And not to be outdone, Madrid was this year hosting its very own fourth annual Tweed Ride Madrid.
The idea is that spectators dress up in tweed as if they were living in 19th century London. They then pedal their bikes in a festive parade-like protocol. The fabric tweed is a central theme here because historically it has come to symbolize British outdoor fashion.
In the notoriously damp British climate, which requires moisture resistance and durability, tweeds have long been fashionably worn for outdoor activities.
Hunters, shooters and bicycle riders – especially those in the 19th century – have wholeheartedly embraced the fashion. The fabric is typically a weave of wool, cotton, rayon, silk or any combination therein.
Tweed, with its unique tight weave in either a plain, twill or herringbone pattern, has remained synonymous with upper-class British country elegance.
Tweed can be tastefully plain or with interesting color patterns. Harris, Fender and Donegal tweeds, herringbone and hounds tooth, are all household words in British fashion nomenclature.
The Tweed Ride is essentially a movement – a rapidly growing global movement – among bicyclists to promote the use of the bicycle as a cheap, healthful ,ecological and fashionable mode of transport.
This years’ Tweed Ride Madrid followed the route from Plaza Mayor to the Arganzuela district followed by a host of events in the Nave de Terneros.
Other activities included picnics, swing dance lessons and tea-tastings. Awards were given for the ‘Best Tweed Rider’ and the ‘Best Classic Bicycle’.
The ‘Best 19th century Moustache Contest‘ (natural or fake!) especially drew a lot of attention. The Tweed Ride Madrid could have stood alone as a concert as there was no short supply of spirited musical groups.
For those who appreciate vintage tweed clothing, classic bicycles or just a plain old good time, consider Tweed Ride Madrid 2015.
For information go to: www.tweedridemadrid.com