Forget aerodynamic shorts and road-safe neon windbreakers (at least for one day), because Parady Boatwright, 36, has a different dress code in mind for Des Moines’ next cycling get-together. She wants to see ladies and gentlemen cruising through downtown in their finest tweed.
“The ride is about fashion, socializing, great fun and time with friends on bicycles,” Des Moines Tweed Ride organizer Boatwright said.
Inspired by a similar get-together in London, riders will take to the streets Sunday for the third annual Des Moines Tweed Ride. More than 120 people have registered on Facebook for a celebration of retro clothing and the city’s biking community. According to Boatwright’s co-founding-counterpart and now-husband, Tom Laughead, 54, that’s a far cry from the inaugural expedition. In fact, it started as a date idea.
“We had seen the idea taking place in London, and I just bounced it off of Parady,” Laughead said. “People just heard that we were thinking about riding around together in tweed. There was no intent for a large crowd, so we were shocked when 20 people showed up.”
What was a romantic ride has transformed into a group salute to classic British attire. This year prizes will be awarded for things like the most authentic tandem or best stockings.
What should you be shopping for if you’re hoping to win? There’s no strict dress code, but Laughead jokes that “if you show up in just blue jeans, you might be socially cast away.”
Ladies, try sporting some corduroy, a knit scarf, or pin-up hair with a flower. Gents could dress things up with monocles, textured pieces or some bright argyle socks. Oh, and remember to dress in layers — you can never predict November weather in Des Moines.
At 9 a.m. a posh group of riders will gather at the Royal Mile, 210 Fourth St., for a traditional English breakfast. Since the ride happens to fall on Armistice Day this year, participants will gather at 11:11 a.m. for a toast to the fallen, complete with traditional red remembrance poppies. By noon, the crew will make its way to the state Capitol for a group shot. From there the approximately five-mile ride will really begin.
At 1 p.m. there’s a scheduled stop at Ichi Bike, 311 E. Walnut St., for a Newcastle brew or tea, and around 2 p.m. everyone will trickle back to the Royal Mile for a post-ride party.
The Tweed Ride is free, but come with some cash for drinks and snacks. Also, the event is bring-your-own-bike, but there are no requirements for specific models.
So go all out with your wooly apparel, ride through town with some new friends and don’t be afraid to try on an unfamiliar persona.
“I think that when it comes to fashion, you also think about confidence,” Boatwright said. “It’s an expression of yourself. There’s a certain freedom to who you are through clothes.”
For more info, find “The 3rd Annual Des Moines Tweed Ride ~ Armistice Day” on Facebook