On a warm Sunday at Washburn University, the bell tower sounded at noon, riders rolled in on their two wheeled steeds, looking their finest for what some affectionately called “Bike Church.”

Knickers pedaling a cargo bike, hauling a fedora festooned lady, a mountain bike with child in tow via trailer, and the bells announcing their presence, participants admired one another’s fashionable sense and the care that was put into their attire.  It was quite the sight to see such nicely dressed folks on bicycles.
The bicyclists gathered for the “Topeka’s First Annual Fancy Ride” where they were invited to dress up and ride through Topeka’s historical neighborhoods. The focus of the ride was to arrive at Old Prairie Town at Ward Meade Historic site for a picnic and dessert at the Potwin drug store. Other noteable aspects of the ride included touring through College Hill, Elmhurst, and patterned brick roads of Potwin. Stops along the route were made at the mural in progress at Meadow’s Elementary and the than newly renovated state capitol in downtown Topeka.

One might wonder, why would a person want to dress snazzy or to the nines while riding?

Nationally and even internationally there has been a trend to hold rides similar to Topeka’s Fancy Ride. On a regional basis towns such as Kansas City, MO. and Minneapolis, Minnesota have held what was called a “Tweed Ride”, in which riders are encouraged to ride in duds that hearken from an earlier day of wool and argyle in which bicycling had its hey-day. Similar tweed ride events have been known to occur in San Francisco, England as well as other venues abroad. Topeka had yet to be exposed to this fine fashion frenzy on wheels, so local bicycle enthusiasts jumped at the opportunity to facilitate this ride in mid October, by creating a Facebook event on Topeka’s local bike hub, “Bike Topeka”.

While parked at the Ward Meade Historic site, riders took a break from pedaling to roam the grounds of the Old Prairie Town. The gardens of the mansion offered many a glimpse at the natural splendor and botanical beauty found at Ward Meade. Camera phones stowed in saddle bags provided the opportunity for pictures around the numerous historic structures. An onlooker to the picnic that was had on the lawn out front of the General Store might not have believed that all the delicacies abound were transported by bicycle and in such class.  It’s not everyday that one dresses up with great creativity and transported by bicycle.

Although these impromtu casual rides do not always require such costuming.  Most casual rides developing these days focus more on making a connection with your fellow rider – where speed takes a backseat to socializing.  So much so, the return trip involved dancing and pedaling to Iggy Azalea song “Fancy.”

Look for upcoming social rides.  Follow BikeTopeka on Facebook.

by Sara O’Keefe (Fancy Name: Gwyenevere) + Andy Fry (Fancy Name: Jim)

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