Author: Gareth Charlton Posted: 04 Sep 2014
The 28th of September: lift your quill and scribe that date boldly upon your planning parchment.
For the third consecutive year riders of the world shall shed their leather and kevlar exteriors and roll out their tweeds and collars in support of Prostate Cancer. Yes indeed, the time is nigh for that most splendid of biking past times, the Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride. If you are one of the near 15,000 dapper fellows or elegant ladies to have already partaken in this marvellous spectacle then no introduction is required, but if it remains unbeknownst to you then read on and discover this remarkable institution.
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. This year 234 cities from Bogota to Seoul and every place in between will bear host to such suited gatherings.
Dutch von Someren aka Dutch von Shed, founder of the Bike Shed and Ambassador of the London DGR, has 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".
The day begins with a gathering of bikers the likes of which is rarely seen, open face helmets reveal finely moustachioed smiles aboard a wealth of classy machinery. Tea and coffee are drunk with little fingers cocked as the throng ever grows and varies. When the elaborate entourage eventually departs to its own thunderous soundtrack passers by stop in their tracks to see the procession slide by. Never have a group of riders garnered so many wide smiles and waves of appreciation from the broader public. It is pure theatre on two wheels. For the past two years in London we have criss-crossed the Thames bathed in glorious sunshine before arriving for refreshments at a predetermined establishment. Manners have been impeccable and a jolly spiffing time has been had, all whilst raising awareness and money for the Prostate Cancer foundation, a disease that kills 1300 men a day worldwide.
Dutch added, "For the public and press the ride allows us to show off this side of who we are, with a visual display of gorgeous bikes, ridden considerately, by dapper chaps in distinguished attire. It also makes a nice change from Youtube clips of 180mph speeding bikers and the issuing of wheelie & burnout ASBOs. We deserve a better rap.”
This year the ride is supported by Triumph and will be taking place in 10 locations across the UK, to get involved and to see the full list of cities check out www.gentlemansride.com or stay abreast of www.thebikeshed.cc for further information on the London ride. Now for our top five tips for the discerning rider contemplating joining the Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride.
TOP 5 TIPS:
A. ATTIRE - Pull out all the stops with the dress code, leave your inhibitions at home along with your Gore Tex. You may feel self conscious on the ride there but once in the pack you will revel in your glorious decadence. Props help too, think; monocles, white silk scarves, pipes and pocket watches.
B. BIKES – This event was created around the image of classic and custom bikes. Retro is the theme, cafe racers, scramblers, bobbers, and classics. If it looks silly with a suit, it shouldn’t be there. Leave your plastic covered crotch rockets and touring behemoths at home. If you do not possess a suitable steed, spectate and donate.
C. COURTESY – The clue is in the title, this is a ride for Ladies and Gentlemen. Adopt the manners of a bygone era, doff your helmet, bow politely, and leave your inner hooligan in their cage. The pace of the day is sedate and courteous so play along and enjoy the calmer side of biking.
D. DONATE – Amidst the spectacle of fine tailoring and desirable machinery lies the cause. The Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride is this year hoping to raise over a million dollars worldwide for prostate cancer research, a cause that deserves every penny. Whether you make the ride or not please find time to support the cause, visit www.gentlemansride.com for more information and to pledge some cash.
E. ENJOY – It is a glorious treat of a day, come in high spirits prepared to enjoy yourself and create wonderful memories in the company of like minded Genteel folk and their sublime machines.
See you there!