On a September Sunday last year, 37,000 well-dressed riders from 410 cities in 79 countries raised over £1.77m when riding classic-style motorcycles dressed as stereotypical Geography teachers complete with facial hair and elbow patches on tweed jackets.
Those are some stats to be proud of.
The Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride is all in the name of raising both money and awareness for prostate cancer research as well as suicide prevention and this year’s global ride out takes place this Sunday, 25th September. Once again, on the same day, riders all around the world from Bogata to Seoul will fire up their classics, customs, scramblers, bobbers, café racers and choppers and join together in one massive, very well dressed, global fundraising ride.
And to get into the spirit of the event’s theme, riders, passengers and even supporters are encouraged to dress the part. The official website advises “monocles, jaunty trimmed moustaches, silk vests, crisp shirts and tailored suits.”
This year, for the first time, Triumph will host one of the charity rides, leave from the British manufacturer's headquarters in Hinckley before touring the town and heading out across country to the centre of Coventry. The Tamworth ride will also start from Triumph’s headquarters, before breaking from the group and enjoying a different route.
And Bike Social will be involved too. Our very own Michael Mann has been invited by Triumph to ride this rather special Barbour International-commissioned Triumph BIT2 Thruxton R Cafe Racer, designed and built by Yorkshire-based customisers, Down and Out Café Racers:
Unveiled earlier this year at The Bike Shed Show held at the super trendy Tobacco Dock in London, the striking model is based on a the new-for-2016 1200cc Thruxton R model with plenty of upgrades including, perhaps most noticeably, the Firestone Deluxe Champion tyres. Lightly baffled reverse megaphones make the necessary growl-ish roar, while custom-made button units, a side-mounted headlamp, Barbour-style waxed cotton seat and tank strap add to the fine finish. The brushed metal fuel tank now features gold stripes that run along the length of the bike to hand-rolled aluminium tail. Flipped clip-ons, lowered clocks and trimmed bubble screen encourage a far racier seating position than a moustachioed gentleman might prefer.
We shall see.
Where did it all begin?
In 2012 members of the Sydney and Perth Cafe Racer groups, inspired by a sepia picture of Mad Men actor John Hamm astride a vintage Matchless, devised a plan for an alternative ride. The idea was simple, dress to impress in your Sunday best, board your retro motorcycle and assemble with other such sophisticated revellers for a civilised jaunt through the city. Mark Hawwa and Rex Havoc drove the concept forward and with the support and enthusiasm of the custom motorcycle fraternity created an event that in its first year saw rides across 56 cities globally.
Hawwa said, “When I started the Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride, I wanted to change the perception of men on motorcycles and show our sophistication and style. We are an inclusive and friendly community. Having fun and a smile is what it’s all about!”
Dutch von Someren aka Dutch von Shed, founder of the Bike Shed and Ambassador of the London DGR, had this to say of the event, "The Distinguished Gentleman's Ride is a really important piece of biking fun. Most bike events focus on being cool, fast, or possibly dangerous, but this gathering reminds us that underneath it all Bikers are indeed gentlemen (or gentlewomen). Most bikers I know, from patched-up clubmen to hardened commuters, are considerate and hard working with rich life experiences, and they are more likely to go out of their way to help others than your average Joe. Back in the day, all that added up to being a "Gentleman".
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Martin Hough, marketing manager of Triumph UK & Ireland, commented: “As one of motorcycling’s most renowned global charity events, welcoming The Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride to our headquarters in Hinckley seemed only fitting!
“The event unites riders from around the world to celebrate everything we love about taking to two wheels, while raising awareness and money for a truly worthwhile cause.
“Welcoming riders to Hinckley is a great way to bring the local community together, as well as providing Triumph fans with exclusive access to the Triumph site.”
DGR ambassadors for 2016 include 'Fast Freddie' Spencer, Charley Boorman, Maria Costello and Dutch von Shed.
Participating in the DGR is free to all with a donation encouraged for those participating. There are currently 4260 riders signed up for the 41 rides across the UK. Registration is still open and for further information or to book your place, visit www.gentlemansride.com.