The problem with charity fundraisers is that they are, for the most part, painfully boring. I like to donate when I can, but God knows you can only buy so many dollar Cadbury fundraiser chocolates and there’s a limit to how many gala ball auctions you can sit through before performing your own dental surgery with the dinner cutlery seems a more interesting option.
This is where The Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride comes in. On the 29th of September, 5000 men around the world donned baller suits and awoke over 110 cities from their Sunday morning slumber by riding a range of classic, retro, cafe racer, bobber, flat tail and custom bikes to raise awareness and funds for prostate cancer research.
Any Given Reason happened to be in New York City on the 29th, so after receiving a tip off I ventured down to the corner of street’s Greenwich and Desbrosses in the Tribeca district of Manhattan to check it out.
The Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride is an Australian idea, and the first event was held just last year in 64 cities around the world. It was such a success that the organisers decided to bring more purpose to the next event, and 2013 was the first time that the fundraising element was added. To date the 2013 ride has so far raised over $277,000, with the money raised being donated to the Prostate Cancer Foundation Australia, Prostate Cancer UK and Prostate Cancer USA.
It’s interesting to note that The Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride is very much about quality over quantity. The organisers are clearly not interested in building numbers for the sake of numbers. This is no toy run – it’s primarily a ride for enthusiasts of this style of motorcycle, and if they can raise some money along the way, well then that’s good too.
… and then casual route instructions were given. The ride would first head south to the 9/11 Memorial, loop around the Financial District in Lower Manhattan, before heading up Broadway past Chinatown, the Flatiron, through Times Square and onto the famous 5th Avenue for a run past Central Park, up to Harlem and then back down along the Hudson River to finish back where it started. A nice easy ride taking advantage of the (relatively) quiet Sunday morning roads. Unfortunately without a bike of my own (or indeed, the ability to ride one), I was relegated to the meet point. But that was okay – this was still one of the best ways I can think of to spend a Sunday morning. It sure does beat my initial plan of chosing one of the Staten Island ferry times taking my ride there and spending the day alone with a book.
The group formed an impromptu start line on the cobblestone street, revving their engines, before taking off at a tasteful pace. It was quite a symphony that echoed off the surrounding buildings that morning – the deep baseline of the Harley’s setting the beat; the midtone warble of the thrumming Triumph’s and Norton’s matched against the high pitched wail of a lone Ducati.
Words and photos by Andrew Coles