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Don your plus-fours and button up your waistcoat! Dandies and Quaintrelles, a mysterious group of District fops, is planning the first-ever D.C. Tweed Ride, during which people who dress like this (though that cycling machine would never pass muster) will circumnavigate notre petite ville, tittering at bon mots and, one hopes, moving quickly enough to avoid ass-whompings.
I reached out to “Sir E. Channing,” one of the ride’s organizers, with some concerns. The following entrevue took place via electronic letter. Washington City Paper: I’m not too familiar with our local dandies, other than the guy who rides up and down Kalorama on an English three-speed with a porkpie hat. Is he one of you? Sir E. Channing: The three speed pedaler in the porkpie sounds charming and fits the description of one invited. Without further details, one can’t be certain. Please do inform the gentleman of our planned event.
How many people are you hoping will ride? As this is the first tweed ride known to occur in D.C. since the infestation of the automobile, we cannot be certain of how many riders will attend. Mere mention of it over a month ago have sent dozens of dapper dandies and quaintrelles quietly in search of suitable tweed and steel. This ride will serve to announce our arrival in a city in dire need of dandified representation. The word will be sure to travel in the right circles. The spring ride should bring dandies in great numbers from both near and far.
Have you been on one of these tweed rides before [e.g., 1, 2] ? Do you enjoy the feeling of wind whipping through your twined handlebar ends? None of our members have been on tweed rides in any other cities. We are pleased that this city will present us with our first brisk and exhilarating experience pedaling steel in style. I have been an avid cyclist for over 15 years and have been passionate about matters of style for the entirety of my existence. I’ve learned of these rides in other cities through the internet only a few months ago and have since set about forming an event for D.C.
I understand the prohibition against fleece, but what about bike helmets? What about equestrian helmets—-would those be better? The organizers of this ride would like to encourage the wearing of helmets. We suspect that many will want to avoid the destruction of fastidiously arranged hairstyles. Others will want to display fine headgear that offers plenty of style and very little protection. We do anticipate a leisurely pace and a group large enough to be recognized by others on the road. We have no intentions of preventing the participation of the helmetless.
Are you concerned about congregating so many dandies in one location? What if a meteor hits? Will the bottom fall out of the horsehair market? The planned or haphazard congregation of any population of dandies numbering more than just a few should arouse the concerns of all upstanding citizenry. And while the odds of a concurrent supernatural event may be quite slim, we may market ourselves to any who lend us the slightest bit of attention regardless of the possibility of cataclysm.
Please direct any further questions to my attention,
Sir E. Channing Photographs by Darrow Montgomery
NOTE: An earlier version of this post misstated the date for the ride. Gentlemen do make mistakes!