Pedaling back in time: Melbourne Tweed Ride 2011

Melbourne’s weekend Tweed Ride couldn’t have asked for more idealistic weather conditions. Except that, well, most people were perspiring a little than they would have liked to in their vintage plus-four suits. But a far merrier option to the previous day’s deluge of rain, Sunday’s event was smiled upon by sunshine and calm winds as the 200 strong participants pedaled their way along the city’s Yarra River, arriving like a whimsical British invasion to the French ‘Paris To Province’ festival at the gardens of Como House. Had chaps with names such as Wellesley and Bonaparte been present, this might have been Waterloo.

Tweed Runs are already an established phenomena in cities such as New York and London. So one of the things we were intrigued to find out was how an Australian version might differ from its overseas inspirations.

The biggest difference to the Melbourne Tweed Ride came from the absence of a major fashion sponsor. With Ralph Lauren Rugby putting their name to the New York affair, the streets seem to become populated by folks who might have just as easily stepped out of a Rugby catalogue as from another era. That’s certainly no bad thing for the attendees, the event, and those waiting cameras-in-hand to pounce on hip young things in a modern interpretation of vintage bike-riding style.

In the absence of such support, however, Melbourne’s Tweed Ride brought a balanced mix of bicycle enthusiasts and vintage fashion lovers. The Vintage Cycle Club of Victoria were one of the event’s organisers, and helped populate the event with a flock of quirky antique bicycles and authentically dressed riders.

And while we expected that many participants would pedal along in order to make the most of their already impressive collections of preppy bow-ties, argyle knits and vintage tweed jackets, many we spoke to weren’t so equipped for the ride at all. They’d simply raided the local charity stores that morning for whatever suitable garb they could find. The resulting mix was plenty of genuine vintage, a level of authenticity (even if there wasn’t a lot of actual tweed), and many interesting looks.

In all, Melbourne’s Tweed Ride was a low-key affair. It wasn’t descended upon by vast swarms of media or hipsters. We expect that may change a little over time as the event evolves – especially should brand sponsors pounce on the opportunity. Regardless though, it’s an event well worth getting on your bike for.

For photos of the 2011 Melbourne Tweed Ride, as captured by Kelly Defina for, click on the thumbnails above.

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