Monday, October 18, 2010

Twiddering tweeds

This may well be remembered as the Tweed Run that Almost Wasn't.

San Francisco's weather patterns are generally very predictable. In the 25 years or so that I've lived here, I've only seen it rain in autumn before Hallowe'en once. Make that twice now. Our Indian Summer arrived a few weeks ago, pretty close to schedule, but when we awoke this morning, clouds extended to the horizon. We kept reloading the WeatherUnderground radar loop, watching in chagrin as an immense train of yellow storms advanced upon the West Coast. By breakfast time, it was drizzling on Nob Hill. By 1:30, as we left the house, it was raining. Appropriately tweed-y weather, but still! As San Franciscans, we're contractually obliged to complain about the weather if the temperature exceeds 80 or dips below 50, and unseasonal rain elicits handwringing and moaning, if not raised fists and maledictions.

And so, we walked our bicycles down the sidewalk towards Union Square, feeling the appropriate level of woe. Then, as we got onto Market Street at 5th, the storm seemed to lose its nerve. We pedaled down the bike lane towards the Embarcadero, feeling ever emboldened by the waning mist (and the light traffic). By the time we got to Justin Herman Plaza at the 2pm meeting time, there was already a group of 20 or so cyclists already there. We had a little while to meet new faces and admire machinery as stragglers filtered in. By the time we left on the ride proper, we were about 50.

There were some novel rides in attendance, including an old Schwinn tandem and a new 3-person tandem ("trindem"?) manned by a father and stoked by his two young children.

Colin, the event's intrepid organizer, rode a lovely "the Londoner" British 3-speed with a delightful handlebar bag and a wooden (!) thumb-bell.

Many of the attendees were appropriately dressed, as this charming couple demonstrate.

My favorite bicycle was this proper Dutch stadsfiets owned by an appropriately stylish fellow. Lugged steel frame, wide handlebars and saddle, full chaincase, coat-guard, capacious, waterproof panniers, proper rear wheel lock, upright seating position, not one but two brass bells -- such bicycles are common enough in the Netherlands, but sadly rare in the US. And yet, what an ideal vehicle for our cities and suburbs!  Seeing it left me missing my old Gazelle.


My own better half looked fetching in her cape and beret.  This was her first ride on her new (well, 40 year-old) bicycle and she had to adjust very quickly to its idiosyncrasies.

The bud vase and greenery were an impromptu accessory I made last night.

The ride's route followed the Embarcadero south, passing below the Bay Bridge and onward to the far side of Potrero Hill, where we enjoyed coffee, live music and good cheer, courtesy of the good folks at Rickshaw Bagworks.

K insisted upon having me ride past on Titania while she filmed me.  If I look odder than usual, it's because the video had to be rotated 90-degrees, which squished the aspect ratio.

Of course, after a couple of wee drams of single malt and a bottle of porter, my aspect ratio was already a bit squashed.  But it was all in the name of tweed, and despite the threatening weather, the day (or what parts I am able to remember of it) turned out to be a success for all.  Thanks go out to Colin, Rickshaw Bags and everyone involved in carrying off the fall Tweed Run!

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