2017 marks the fourth year I’ve attended the Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride (DGR). What is the DGR you ask? Way back in 2012, Mark Hawwa started The Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride in Sydney, Australia. According to the DGR Website, Hawwa was inspired by a photo of Mad Men’s Don Draper astride a classic bike and wearing his finest suit. Mark suspected a themed ride could potentially reverse the often negative stereotype of men on motorcycles, meanwhile offering a networking opportunity for the retro-café racer-bobber-vintage motorcycle community. That first year they estimate that 11,000 riders attended the DGR in 64 cities around the globe; last year the number was up to 56,000 riders across 505 cities in 90 countries. In 2013 the event organizers adopted “a cause” for the event, choosing to support prostate cancer research; while in 2016 the DGR grew to support not only prostate cancer research and male suicide prevention through the Movember Foundation.
But what is the DGR? Mostly an excuse to dress up and ride my motorcycle… In reality, and per my previous comments, the DGR is a fundraising event based on a motorcycle ride. The “spirit” of the event is to dress up in your finest attire, and ride your “classic” motorcycle around urban areas in the hopes of attracting attention to “the cause”; essentially men’s health. Through the DGR Website, attendees are encouraged to solicit for donations from their friends and family. No actual donations are collected on the day of the event, “The Ride” is essentially a celebration of the event, which typically draws the attention of bystanders who subsequently ask why we’re all dressed up (“y’all come from a wedding or something?”). That said, while fundraising is encouraged, there is actually no charge for attending the event.
In 2014 I caught wind of the DGR through various Triumph social media outlets. As such, as September rolled around, I dressed up in my finest threads and headed down to the Cincinnati. Needless to say, I was still a very new rider in 2014 and the event had quite the draw in downtown Cincy. The entire concept of the DGR is a pretty radical departure from my typical ATGATT mentality, the thought of the 50 mile commute to one of Ohio’s most populated cities left me a bit concerned about my lack of protection considering my dress pants and spectator wingtips… Fortunately, the mass of riders in the downtown streets typically draws a lot of attention from drivers and bystanders. I will also say that in recent years the event coordinators have put stress on keeping the ride safe; shortening the route, keeping the speeds down, and in general working with volunteers to keep the group organized while still following traffic laws (something I cannot say for many motorcycle events of this scale).
Following my first year in Cincinnati, I joined some of my Triumph RAT Pack pals in Columbus for a couple years, but this year I decided I wanted to return to the Queen City. This year the group met up at the North Side Yacht Club for breakfast and coffee. After a safety briefing, and a thank you to all in attendance, we filed through downtown Cincinnati streets, past Union Terminal, and on to Fountain Square for a photo opportunity. I’ve been to Fountain Square a few times in the past, but it was a really cool opportunity to park my bike on the square and get photos with our “most dapper” group; considering the looks on the faces of the bystanders, there’s not doubt they were curious what was going on. From Fountain Square it was on down to the river and along US-52 over to Lunken Airport for another photo op. After gathering the crew on the airport steps for a big group shot, it was on Ault Park, and then over to Mad Tree brewing for lunch and a beer.
Admittedly, the ride really isn’t very long, but with each break there is an opportunity to mingle with new people, talk about bikes, and generally expand your riding circle. While “The road is the destination” is generally my mantra, the DGR is the one time of year that I’m typically looking forward to the locations, photo ops, and new acquaintances more so than the journey. If this short description strikes your fancy, I recommend you keep you lids peeled for next years ride in your local area; and if I have it my way, it might even be in Dayton next year…
Note: Big thanks to Bill DeVore letting me post some of his photos from this years event!