Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride 2019: As a rider, is there anything sweeter to the ear than the sound of one hundred idling motorcycle engines, started in unison and in the unity of one cause?
The answer is ‘yes’. And specifically, it’s the sound of any number of motorcycle engines idling in unison, that is greater than one hundred. And the cause? The Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride which took place on Sunday 29th September 2019.
DISTINGUISHED GENTLEMAN’S RIDE 2019
Founded in Sydney, Australia in 2012 by Mark Hawwa The Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride unites riders (both men and women) from across the globe in a rakish spectacle of tweed. Since its inception, The Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride, or to use its shorthand, the DGR has raised in excess of $23 million including ($5.5 million dollars in 2019) for men’s mental health charities and prostate cancer.
This year, events took place in more than 700 cities/towns, spread across 102 countries, with more than 130,000 people registered to raise funds and ride. Those are quite astounding figures given the humble beginnings which saw a mere (in comparison) 3,000 riders take part.
DISTINGUISHED GENTLEMAN’S RIDE 2019 RIDE REPORT: CHESTER, UK
Having ridden the largest event in the UK (London DGR) last year – this year I settled on the Chester ride. A smaller cohort of riders, yet equally as enthusiastic as the larger UK cities.
I never fear to attend ‘moto-culture’ events solo. Admittedly, I don’t fear to attend any type of event solo. Anecdotally, there seems to be more opportunity to connect with interesting people from varied backgrounds when you’re not part of a group.
Digression aside, I actively look forward to moto/custom events solo, particularly as there are plenty of individuals with fascinating build stories, to be found in amongst the machines.
I suspect I’ve made a few new rider buddies at this year’s DGR in Chester. Notably, I grabbed a few words with an all-around good chap named Steve. He happens to be the owner of that Thorton Hundred Motorcycles, Ducati Panigale 1299 build that you may have seen at The Bike Shed show in May 2019.
CHESTER DGR 2019 RIDE
The Chester DGR 2019, saw somewhere in the region of 130 riders take part, of mostly neo-retro, classic and vintage bikes. Eventually, £10,823 was raised (at the time of writing this article) for prostate cancer and men’s mental health. 148 riders were registered to ride this year in Chester – so we were missing a few. One suspects the inclement weather may have played a part in persuading the 17 or so of our number not to wheel out their machines.
The muster point for the Chester DGR 2019 was the forecourt of Bill Smith Motors. Staff were graciously thanked, for topping up the tank of a certain Thruxton 1200 R – whose owner shall remain nameless. That owner may or may not have made the newbie rider error, of arriving for a group ride-out with a solid fuel gauge light showing on his instruments.
DGR 2019 Chester, UK – Engines Start
Following the safety briefing and awards for the top three fundraisers, it was engines start at 11 am. Cue the cacophony of burbling exhausts from idling engines. I’m certain you’ll agree, for a two-wheel aficionado that sound surpasses (in attractiveness) that of any symphony played by any orchestra, anywhere.
Music of sorts in our ears, off we went, rumbling through the ancient Roman city of Chester like a Celtic guerilla resistance. Yet, a slightly abridged route was taken, owing to a visit by a senior royal dignitary. Princess Royal, I believe, on duty greeting the crew of HMS Albion.
As the ride progressed, threatening clouds loomed overhead – though undeterred, the squadron of the dapperly-tweeded cruised towards Cheshire Farm Ice Cream via the A41. Reaching the first waypoint, seemed signal enough for the clouds overhead to make good on previous threats.
However, the worst of the rain persisted just long enough for a scoop of ice cream in a cone. Then shortly after, it was back to the machines, to meander back towards the city.
Merrily, trundling along with dampened tweed but high-spirits, the thundering two-wheel convoy drew waves and smiles from knee-high folks. And on their guardians and other onlookers, somewhat bemused grins were found. Plenty captured snaps of the oddity to no-doubt bemuse and amuse friends and family alike.
DISTINGUISHED GENTLEMAN’S RIDE – RAISING AWARENESS ON TWO WHEELS
Naturally, questions concerning the nature of the event were asked when the convoy came to rest, at scheduled stops throughout the day. Mission accomplished then – certainly with respect to raising awareness.
Nevertheless, at times the thought did occur while riding some of the lesser populated parts of the route, of how much awareness could be raised in more rural areas? However, as they say; “if you can reach just one person…”
Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride Or Distinguished Gentlefolk’s Ride?
I also found myself wondering whether or not the ride could benefit from a slight tweak in name to attract more female riders? There were indeed some female riders on the Chester ride – however, women were mostly conspicuous by absence. I spoke to two who didn’t ride on the basis that; “maybe the event wasn’t” for them.
A glance at the DGR website suggests clearly that the organisers welcome all backgrounds. The catch-all phrase, “The Distinguished Gentlefolk” has been bandied about once or twice as an alternative. Ultimately, what does a name matter, if it means more fundraisers and more funds raised for the capital causes? Maybe that’s a question for another time.
As is the case with these events, inevitably they feel as though they finish all too soon. We finally came to a stop at the Chester Racecourse, shortly before 2 PM where refreshments and much bike chat followed.
In terms of fundraising, there isn’t anything particularly difficult about the DGR – it’s not like climbing Mount Everest – yet the high and general goodwill from the day makes you feel nearly as tall.
If you haven’t taken part in the Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride, be ye man or woman, I thoroughly recommend you place it on your ride calendar for next year.