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Friday, August 28, 2015

The Distinguished Gentleman's Ride: A Worldwide Motorcycle Phenomenon With a Worthy Cause

Don Draper might have found his bliss in an ashram at the conclusion of the iconic series, Mad Men -- or not? But he did leave an indelible impression on Mark Hawwa, who was so "suitably" inspired by a photo he came across of a dapper Draper astride a vintage Matchless motorcycle, that he was inspired to create The Distinguished Gentleman's Ride.

Dandy Don Draper (Jon Hamm) on his Matchless
And so in 2012, it began. Now on Sunday September 27, 2015, over 30,000 smartly-dressed gentlefolk in over 400 cities (Sydney to Milan, Lebanon, New York and Los Angeles) will straddle the saddles of their cafe racers, bobbers, scramblers and other proudly built custom motorcycles in a worldwide communal event called The Distinguished Gentleman's Ride. The DGR also raises awareness of men's health issues and helps fund the cure for prostate cancer.

Zurich DGR - by Marc Schneider

Paris DGR & Theo Stanton - by Laurent Nivalle
The global event founder Hawwa, who describes riding motorcycles as "feeling adrenaline, joy and being in the now," explains The DGR:
The original idea was to unite the classic and custom bike scene while breaking the stereotypes that exist globally for motorcycle riders. After a fantastic first year which brought together 65 cities and 2500 riders, we started talking to The Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia to see how we could get men talking about something which was considered a bit 'taboo.' The core idea still remains -- to unite the custom classics bike scene on the same day globally while raising awareness and support for prostate cancer research. This year we hope to raise 3 million dollars, that will aid all men regardless of the bike they ride or even if they ride at all.
Rebel Social's Nick Dee - by Zane W. Levitt
Nick Dee, the founder of Rebel Social, a social media company with key custom motorcycle holdings, was brought on last year to help promote the event globally. This year Dee hopes to ride his freshly customized "Blackbird TT" Triumph Thruxton alongside Hawwa who will be flying out from Sydney to head up the Los Angeles ride. Dee reports of last year's Los Angeles DGR ride:
As we rode along Sunset Boulevard it was like a Presidential motorcade was rolling through. People stopped in their tracks to film us or take photos with their phones. I suppose you don't see 500 plus dapper attired bikers every day. It's a phenomenon and it's taking place all over the world on the same day. That has to be getting people's attention.
 Paris DGR - by Laurent Nivalle

Stacie & Kristin of all-girl Motorcyle Club E.S.M.C. - by Christopher Medak
Hawwa suggests that The DGR is tapping into a multi-faceted zeitgeist:
In a word, it's about community. And, it's all based around the classic styled motorcycle community. People like to express themselves differently and riders have been changing, removing and customizing parts since the invention of the motorcycle itself. This worldwide event brings together all these great bikes. It gives the old boys good reason to wipe the dust off their classics to join us and gives builders and enthusiasts the opportunity to show off their incredible machines. A lot of customizers now use The DGR as the deadline for their bike builds. When you couple that enthusiasm with charitable fundraising it's a pretty amazing event to be involved with.
Copenhagen DGR - by Claus Christensen
The DGR is partnered with a number of national and international prostate cancer foundations in the US, UK, Europe, Australia and New Zealand, and is working to ensure that monies raised in each region are directed towards that area's prostate cancer research projects. But Hawwa admits that we men have difficulty talking about our health issues, noting:
It's not typical that we are open about our health or feel comfortable talking about getting tested for prostate cancer. I believe we are giving men an opportunity to learn about their health and the disease, and also giving them an avenue to openly discuss this with fellow riders. The Distinguished Gentleman's Ride could continue as a ride for the sake of riding and I believe it would still be a success as it was in the first year. But the right thing to do was to bring awareness and support to a bigger cause. 

Tim Flynn riding "for the fight against cancer" - by Christopher Medak
It's reported that annually, one in nine men develop prostate cancer, and close to 500,000 men will die from the disease. One of the many gents who have personally embraced The DGR is LA-based Tim Flynn, a heroic cancer survivor himself, who says:
My goal for The DGR ride this year is twofold. I want to help raise money for the fight against cancer. And I want to help people become aware how important early screening and testing are in the prevention of the disease. If you catch it in time you can beat it.
Another not to miss motorcycle event taking place the week before The DGR is the 8th Annual Venice Vintage Motorcycle Club Rally (September 19) -- The DGR will have a tent there with more information for this year's Ride. The VVMC Rally itself is an all day event in Venice, consisting of a morning group ride and continues with a motorcycle show and a Pin-up Contest. Promoter Nick Dee, who'll also be one of the event judges this year, says, "The VVMC is raffling off a custom 1973 Triumph for just $10 a ticket! It's such a fun filled day. And, it's a great lead up to The DGR."
Sydney DGR - by Baptiste David
And, Mark Hawwa, who cannot believe The DGR has grown so quickly, optimistically concludes:
The Distinguished Gentleman's Ride is a bit of fun with people connecting over a mutual admiration of custom motorcycles and riding. Together we come together on all sorts of classically styled bikes in a dapper fashion for a cause. I think it also appeals on a visual/theater level, too. Nothing says distinguished more than a fine suit or an elegant dress. The general public is thrilled by the sight and as a result it raises awareness of the disease as well as building up the profile of riders in the local community.
Follow The Distinguished Gentleman's Ride on Facebook and Instagram.
Follow Venice Vintage Motorcycle Club Rally on Facebook and Instagram.
Source: huffingtonpost
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