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Tweed Ride Bikes Back in Time

A historical ride through campus
UW Tweed riders assembled in front of Suzzallo Library

UW Tweed riders assembled in front of Suzzallo Library

Facilities Services’ Transportation Services and The Whole U joined forces to create the first ever UW Tweed Ride. The historical bicycle tour took community members across campus, stopping for photos along the way.

Sean Schmidt straightened his bowtie.

Sean Schmidt, UW Sustainability’s assistant director, helped plan the UW Tweed Ride.

Sean Schmidt takes “going green” to a whole new level.

In an emerald button-down vest, Schmidt waited for a crowd of bikers to gather outside Hansee Hall. While college students passed by — backpacks slung over their shoulders, sneakers drifting over pavement — it was as if Schmidt was living in a different era: an age of paper boy hats and freshly-pressed collared shirts.

The tips of Schmidt’s mustache were meticulously curled into circles. A purple sweater, tied in a knot, was wrapped around his shoulders. For the finishing touch, his bow tie — perfectly straightened — had streaks of purple, gold, and green.

He was ready to ride.

The idea for the UW Tweed Ride — the first of its kind at the university — originated at last year’s SustainableUW Festival. According to Schmidt, the ride commemorates UW Homecoming and the Century of Sustainability project, and promotes biking as a sustainable transportation option on campus.

The bicycle course was drafted by Ted Sweeney from Transportation Services, and tweaked with the help of UW Sustainability’s Daimon Eklund. Starting at Hansee Hall, the oldest residence hall on campus, bike riders weaved down through the Quad, made a pit stop at Suzzallo, and continued along the course before ending in front of the Hec Edmundson Pavilion. All along the way, the group of 10 learned a little about UW’s history.

Ted Sweeney from Transportation Services leads the group through the Quad during the UW Tweed Ride.

Ted Sweeney from Transportation Services leads the group through the Quad during the UW Tweed Ride.

Sweeney said it was amusing to see the looks on peoples’ faces as they watched the dressed-up group ride through UW.

“Any excuse to explore the campus is a pleasure, and it was awesome to do it with such a great group,” Sweeney said.

Sweeney first got started riding with a little help from his friends. To avoid parking problems and “trick” himself into exercising, Sweeney pulled from his network to learn what type of bike to buy, how to fix flat tires, and even how to construct a bike essentially from scratch.

If you’re just looking to dive into the world of bike riding, Sweeney said there are many resources available through Transportation Services to get started.

Transportation Services oversees the Commute Concierge, a free commute-planning service to help UW students, faculty and staff make the most out of their trips to and from campus.

Leslie Holmes, a UW employee, showed her spirit by wearing her gold “W” sweater to the UW Tweed Ride.

Leslie Holmes, a UW employee, showed her spirit by wearing her gold “W” sweater to the UW Tweed Ride.

If you’re looking to hop directly onto a bike, but you’re unsure of where to start, Sweeney said taking a class through Transportation Services may be the best route. There are classes about how to ride in the rain, light safety guides, and essentials such as how to fix flat tires. November is Ride in the Rain month, so it’s the perfect opportunity to try a new commute with a supportive network of friends and coworkers.

“I know getting started with bike commuting comes along with a lot of questions and doubts, but then I look at the full bike racks on campus and think about all the people who have made the switch, loved it, and stuck with it,” Sweeney said. “They come from all over Seattle, all fitness levels, all age groups. It’s exciting to support that family and watch it grow.”

The UW Tweed Ride was no exception to diversity: there were people from all over campus.

Margaret Murray, The Whole U’s communications strategist, joined along for the ride.

“I used to ride a lot but I’d never bike through campus, so I thought [the UW Tweed Ride] would be a good excuse to rent a Pronto bike and give it a try,” Murray said.

Leslie Holmes, an employee at the UW Medical Center and a third generation husky, had her own way of standing out in the group: her sweater was emblazed with an enormous golden “W.”

A few months ago, Holmes cleaned out her parents’ house. After they passed away, Holmes’ parents left her drawers stuffed with vintage clothing and costumes. Holmes suspected the sweater – which was buried in the drawers – was purchased by her mother at an estate or yard sale.

“The label in the sweater said it was manufactured by the Lasley Knitting Company in Seattle, and when I googled this I learned that the company was in business from 1946 through 1978,” Holmes said. “When I read about the Tweed Ride, I knew that the sweater would be perfect to wear to the event.”