Inspired by the original Tweed Runs in London, where bicyclists wearing 1930s Scottish tweed come together for slow rides through city streets, Rick and Erin Houston began their own version in Sacramento in November 2009.
"The Tweed Ride is a chance to come socialize and have fun. It's true that the costumes are part of it and people do have a good time playing dress-up but we never wanted the ride to be about what you're wearing, or for that matter, what you're riding," said Erin Houston.
Tweed, however, is a decidedly cool-weather fabric. And spring and summer in Sacramento are decidedly not cool, temperature-wise and thus not that tweedy. So the Houstons have organized a Seersucker Ride that starts Sunday at the corner of 29th and S streets, at the edge of midtown Sacramento. Participants are encouraged to incorporate the crisp cotton fabric into their cycling outfits.
There are about 50 Tweed Rides in the country and many more internationally.
"I am always drawn in by the photos of the Tweed Rides in various cities," Erin Houston. "Each ride has its own character and its own spin on the theme: The London ride is different from the Portland, Ore., ride, (which) is different from the Brazil ride."
Last year, Erin and Rick ages 34 and 53, respectively, sold their car and began using their bicycles as their primary means of transportation. They also have taken an interest in bicycle advocacy and lobbied to get the North American Handmade Bicycle Show to come to Sacramento in 2012. (It is set for March 2-4 at the Sacramento Convention Center.)
"There will be a couple hundred exhibitors, along with several thousand attendees," Rick said. "It's going to be a big deal for the city."
John Boyer, a friend and fellow tweed rider, said he admires the Houstons for all they've done in the world of biking.
"They have really pulled different types of people together in a fragmented society," he said. "The Tweed Ride has been an amazing phenomenon for Sacramento. If you look around Sacramento, there's twice as many bikers now than there once was."
Gina Genshlea works at Revolution Wines where Sunday's ride begins. "It's pretty bustling when they are here, but it's a time when people get to meet new people and mingle. The whole experience is unique and fun," she said.
Rick Houston grew up in Germany, where bicycling was extremely popular, but Erin had more of an on-and-off relationship with bikes.
"A handful of years ago we stumbled into a bike shop and I spotted it: the most perfect bike I have ever seen. It was incredibly ostentatious and girly, and it was everything you, or maybe just 7-year-old me, could have wanted," she said. "I bought it without hesitation and slowly I worked my way back to riding.
To learn more about the 2012 Bike Show, which will be held at the Sacramento Convention Center, go to http://2012.handmadebicycleshow.com.
THE SEERSUCKER RIDE BY SACRAMENTO TWEED
What: A leisurely bicycle ride through Sacramento, in which cyclists are encouraged to deck themselves out in seersucker.
When: Sunday. Meet at 11 a.m.; ride leaves at noon and officially ends at 6 p.m. People are welcome to come out for the whole day or just a few hours.
Where: Meet at Revolution Wines/Temple Coffee at 29th and S streets, midtown Sacramento. Stops include Land Park, the cafe at the Crocker Art Museum and de Vere's Irish Pub.
Price: The ride is free. You can order a boxed lunch from Revolution Wines for $8 or you can bring your own.