Tweed - it's what separates gentlemen bicyclists from the rest
Helsinki hosts its own Winter Tweed Run in a very nippy -20°C
By Jenita Sillanpää
A tweed suit, a damp autumn day in England, and a hunting trip. No, wait a minute, that's not it. It is actually a tweed outfit, an absolutely bone-chillingly cold day in Helsinki, and a bicycle ride.
“We stole the idea from England. But we wanted to add our own spice to the event so we organised a Tweed Run with a Nordic twist, the twist being that the run is a bike ride in the winter”, Jan Schulte-Tigges explains.
None of the organisers could have predicted, however, that on the day of the winter bicycle ride the mercury would drop down to -20 degrees Celsius.
Nonetheless, on the day of the event a sizeable group of people has gathered in the Senate Square in downtown Helsinki to brave the elements with their tube-metal camels.
Nearly all of them are wearing tweed, a material that was originally designed for the rainier climes of the British Isles. The designs include herringbone, pepper, and plaid patterns.
“I do not think any of the outfits here is completely pure in style. The tweed outfits have been spiced up appropriately at least with frieze numbers to better suit the Finnish weather”, Schulte-Tigges points out.
Where there are gentlemen, there are also fine ladies.
Fiona Timantti is dignifying the start of the bike ride by her presence, even if she is not planning to climb onto the saddle herself.
Her outfit has been well thought out to the very last detail: the hair has been twisted into tight curls and her lips have been painted a luscious red. A voluminous muff protecting her hands tops off the ensemble perfectly.
“All the items of clothing I found in my own wardrobe. I did not have to acquire anything new for this. I came here purely attracted by the style aspect of the event”, Timantti explains.
Aino Frilander defies the male-dominated crowd and pedals in her high-heeled boots and a skirt to join the tail of the queue of cyclists.
“I wanted to join in because I have always envied those who get to take part in the London Tweed Run.”
“Because the Tweed Run combines the two greatest things about our world: gentlemen and cycling. I don’t think this requires any further explanation”, Frilander smiles.
Before the start of the run, the intrepid cyclists dressed in their tweeds gather for a group photo on the steps of the Helsinki Cathedral.
Fingers are freezing and someone takes a sip from a bottle to warm himself up.
“My toes are already pretty frozen”, Juha Ahokoski calls out.
“I had to wear something synthetic to prevent my toes from freezing”, Sasu Korander says and demonstrates his winter boots.
The Tweed Run Helsinki begins with people pushing their bicycles from the Senate Square - which has enough snow cover on it to preclude anything but the most extreme cycling - to the Market Square.
Then the gentlemen and the lady get on their bikes and start pedalling towards Hietaniemi and the beach.
The first-ever Tweed Run - "a metropolitan bicycle ride with a bit of style" - was organised in London in 2009.
Last year the event already attracted more than 400 participants.
The idea is to dress up in a traditional English cycling outfit, made out of tweed. The ensemble usually includes baggy plus fours.
Apart from London, at least New York and Tokyo have also hosted their own Tweed Runs.
And now Helsinki has got itself on the map.
Helsingin Sanomat / First published in print 14.2.2011
The Tweed Run