Skip to Content
Madrid City in English
Tuesday 21st of November 2017
Vicky Knill 1306 30th of May 2013 by editor 19th of September 2013
Cycling with Sophistication

Finding her best gear in every sense of the word, Vicky Knill learns more about Madrid’s Tweed Bike Ride

Lazing in the park on a sunny day in June, you doze off. When you reopen your eyes, you are surrounded by countless 1930s cyclists. No, you haven’t slipped through a wormhole and gone back in time; your sleepy spot has proved to be in the path of the Tweed Bike Ride, which is very much in the present.
    This cycling event is part of a world-wide movement which began in London in 2009, when a group of vintage bike fanatics, wearing vintage clothing, rode around the city. This inspired similar rides all over the world. The Madrid edition is now in its third year. “There is nothing better than a bespoke, made-to-measure suit,” enthuses 36-year-old Tom Dillon, one of the event organisers. He is sporting a tweed jacket and matching cap, as is his colleague Jerónimo Martínez. Tweed is a type of closely-woven, rough, woollen fabric which was commonly worn by upper-class types in the early 20th century. It is a material seemingly unsuited to the madrileño summer. “It is hot,” admits Tom, “But hey, I’m British so I’m not going to complain about the weather!”


Promotion cycle
With ultra-modern cycling wear that seems to assist everything from performance to sweat rate, why dress up in a pre-war style? “It’s just a very chic and elegant way to promote the use of the bicycle in Madrid, because it’s not really on the map yet for being a bike-friendly city,” explains Tom. “I think about 0.5% of people in the city use the bicycle versus the car, whereas in Amsterdam it’s 20% or probably even more. So, the tweed is really an excuse to make it more elegant and to give a romantic style to promoting the bicycle.”
    There are a number of cycle routes in Madrid, but Tom feels that more could be done. “The city has invested quite a lot of money on the new infrastructure down by the river, but few people are bringing attention to it. We’re trying to say to people, ‘Look, this is a really healthy way of living and using the bicycle is very environmentally friendly. It’s a great form of exercise too’.”
    Tom thinks that by improving its green credentials, Madrid could help its Olympic hopes. “We want to bring a cleaner image to Madrid. It is already very well-known for its fashion, culture and nightlife, which is excellent. But part of the culture that also needs to grow for us is the bicycle.”


A spiffing day out
This year’s Tweed Bike Ride will take place on 9 June, starting at 11am at Plaza Mayor, before going through the city centre. Vintage and modern bikes are acceptable but vintage attire must be worn.
    The cyclists will go along Calle Mayor and Calle Segovia before following the Manzanares, ending at the Matadero. There will be a photo call and refreshments, as well as prizes for the best costume, best bike, best combination bike and costume, and—new this year—the best moustache, either real or fake. The latter is open to both men and women. Also, to extend the programme, professional flamenco dancers Rosario and Ricardo Castro Romero will perform their own modern dance interpretation of swing/ Charleston, and there will be a swing class for children.
    A photography exhibition and an after-party are planned for later in the year, which will be “Pretty much a free for all, celebrating fashion and tweed and all things debonair,” says Tom.


Turning heads
The reaction from passersby is generally very positive. “People are really fascinated by it,” Tom smiles. “The fashion element is a real head-turner and the women look stunning as well. The effort people make to look dapper in their suits is incredible.”
    Last year 120 people took part, 99% of whom were madrileños. What is the appeal of this type of event for Spanish people? “In the end there are two groups of people that have the bikes,” elaborates Jerónimo.  “One is the bike lovers. They take old-style bikes and they fix them and want the opportunity to show their product, their art. The other group is there because it’s different. They think it’s a funny way to promote the bike. It’s not like a group of people making a protest. It’s quite a peaceful way to say ‘Hey, we are a lot of people, we love bikes, we want our place in the city’.”
     Tom emphasizes the family element. “Part of the tweed and the bicycle combination is to promote a healthier style of living,” he explains, adding that the ride is for all the family. “Parents bring their kids and parents bring their parents. It’s the whole shebang!” A greater effort is being made to cater to younger participants this year, with drama group “Act Out” performing an educational production for children, called Ronnie the French Fry.


On your bike!
If all this has got you oiling your bike and ironing your tweed jacket, go to tweedridemadrid.com before 2 June and join for just €15, or sign up on the day for €20. Ten percent of the proceeds will go to the Red Cross “Ahora + que nunca” campaign. You can also participate for free, but then you won’t be included in the photo call, the competitions or have access to a range of fantastic discounts on suits, bikes and other things.
    “It’s just a lovely way for people to get together and enjoy the great weather and see lovely smiles on people’s faces,” concludes Tom. “Come and have some ice cream and enjoy the wonderful ambience.”

The Tweed Bike ride takes place on Sun, 9 June, at 11am. For full details see www.tweedridemadrid.com

Rate This

No votes yet

Report a mistake

Comments

Comments

No comments so far.