Distinguished Gentlemen Ride for a Cause in London (1 of 2)
Photography by Amy Shore
There were 258 rides, 57 countries, and an estimated 20,000 riders raising almost $1.5 million for prostate cancer research and awareness. This global motorcycle event held on one day each year is known as The Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride and was held on last Sunday, the 28th September 2014. Luckily for me, I just so happened to have the perfect outfit for the job so last Sunday, I threw on my best tweed jacket and 1950’s day dress to experience the London DGR for Petrolicious.
Walking up from London Bridge tube, it would have been rather impressive for me to have missed the hoards of motorcycles, engines purring, rolling into Borough Market. The underlying growl of over six hundred motorcycles (!) arriving could be heard over the usual sounds of the morning London traffic. Greeted by the smell of cooking bacon rolls and exhaust fumes, I wound my way through the mass of classic bikes from cafe racers to bobbers, trackers to modern classics. Careful not to catch myself on various handlebars sticking precariously out into the narrow-formed gangways, I could feel the heat still escaping from the chrome exhausts, warming my legs to a comforting degree.
The Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride first took place in 2012 thanks to founder, Mark Hawwa. Written on the DGR’s website, “Inspired by a photo of Mad Men’s Don Draper astride a classic bike and wearing his finest suit, It was decided a themed ride would be a great way to combat the often-negative stereotype of men on motorcycles. That first ride brought together over 2,500 riders across 64 cities. The success of the event encouraged the organizers to consider how it could be used to support a worthy cause. And the rest, as they say, is stylishly-attired history.”
Leading the London ride was one of the events ambassadors, Anthony ‘Dutch’ Van Someren of The Bike Shed Motorcycle Club. Dutch expertly managed the day from congregating the mass of tweed-clad, monocle-wearing gentlemen (and gentleladies) to a pre-ride briefing of the day, followed by leading the assemblage on their secret hour-long route around London. The aim of keeping the route secret until the ride began was to avoid non-classic bikes joining the dashing drove on the ride.
The sun was still young in the sky as the riders set off in groups of around 60, nodding their helmets at curious crowds who gathered around the market and the surrounding streets. The service taking place at the cathedral next to the market no doubt had their Sunday morning choir interrupted by the roars of Triumph motorcycles being kicked into life. You never know, the sound of 600 motorcycle engines may have added a delightful bass element to ‘Hosanna, Hallelujah’.
But the day wasn’t only about a great ride with an excuse to dress in your best cut suit and cravat, but also about the cause behind the event. “At The Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride (DGR), we ride for a purpose. “Our focus is on gentlemen who are dealt a tough hand in life. In particular, we raise funds for research into prostate cancer as part of our mission to support men’s health.
With your support, DGR is aiming to raise $1 Million USD this year to assist in finding a cure for a disease that kills 1300 men a day worldwide.” They succeeded in reaching that $1 million USD goal, 4 days before the event even took place.
The gentlemen (and ladies) rode for a great cause all over the world that day and to experience the London ride was a delightful experience. Perhaps next year, I too shall be straddled on a cafe racer, ready to depart on Dutch’s words; “Gentlemen – start your engines!”