Our friend Vinny decided that we should have a tweed ride. He'd seen photos and stories from tweed rides in other cities, of people in old-timey woolen clothes smoking pipes and riding bikes, and he thought we should have one in Little Rock, too.
One thing I admire about Vinny is that when he wants to do something he grabs some friends and does it. There's no series of meetings and committees. There's no involved pre-planning. So when he decided to do a tweed ride, he just set a date and put it on Facebook and bought an old suit and some stick-on mustaches. We hit the Goodwill store for plaid jackets and fluffy shirts.
And our friends did, too. Charlie knickered his pants. Bryan bought a new bow tie just for the occasion, and learned to tie it. Jarion borrowed a bow tie from a friend, but ordered a new pipe. Kathy found a plaid cape, and Rachel got a three-piece suit and a pocketwatch.
The morning before the Tweed Ride was chilly but bright. David Fike, the proprietor of River Trail Rentals, sent a message saying that he'd be stuck at the shop but that he'd like for our family to stop by. We just used David's as a meeting spot, and Kathy got her first ride on a tandem.
Vinny figured he'd get seven or eight friends to ride with him, and it would be a lot of fun. Turns out he got seventy or eighty friends to ride with him. There were fast road bike people and mountain bike people and touring people and unicycle people and who knows who else, on old clonky bikes, smoking pipes and grinning from ear to ear.
We posed for a dozen photographers on a hill in front of the Clinton Library. We'd done a news release, and I'd resent it to a bunch of media people that morning. A lot of them were there, along with several people from the Arkansas Outdoor Photographers' Club. They weren't disappointed.
We rode around downtown and over the Broadway Bridge to North Little Rock, around Argenta, and then back to the south side of the river. That many riders clogs up the downtown streets a bit, but we waved and smiled at the motorists, who waved and smiled right back. There were no grumpy faces, and several even stopped to ask what we were up to. "Just having fun," we said. "Riding bikes is fun."
We ended the ride at the Capitol Bar and Grill, where dozens of people walked their bikes right through the fancy lobby and into the ballroom. There were dozens of bikes leaned against the walls and chairs, on the snooty carpet, and the hotel staff just closed the doors and smiled.
When we arrived, only two tables were occupied. We felt a little bad for them - they were enjoying quiet conversations when we tumbled in. We filled the place to overflowing with happy loud people ordering sazeracs and beer and soup and fries. It was a very good ending to a very good ride.
And guess who won the "Best Dressed" trophy? I did! It's the only trophy I've ever been given, and it was a ridiculous prize, and I'm inordinately pleased with myself about it.
Additional photos and videos can be found at the Arkansas Outside blog, another Arkansas Outside article, a Facebook album with photos from the chase car, at the Jbar Cycling blog, and finally at the Move Arkansas blog too. Thanks to all our friends and fellow bloggers for participating and showing how much fun riding a bike can be.