Pre-event checklists are usually pretty similar. Tools, spares, something to sit on, something to drink. Easy. But things get a little more complicated when preparing for the Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride, a motorcycle ride held annually in 410 cities in 79 different countries to raise awareness and funds for prostate cancer.
Attire dry-cleaned and correctly pressed? Check. Tie selected? Check. Shoes polished? Check. Hair cut, beard trimmed and oiled? Check. Motorcycle sufficiently prepared so as to prevent roadside repairs in one’s finest outfit? Check, hopefully.
No apologies are made for the fact that the ride is strictly for classic and classic inspired two-wheeled, powered motorcycles. A style guide is published before the event (for both motorcycles and clothing), and whilst it doesn’t specifically say no sports bikes, the message is pretty strong. And rightly so – the DGR is not about corner carving at antisocial speeds or the latest and greatest of modern technologies, it’s about enjoying a slow cruise on some pretty cool bikes. And if awareness and money for a good cause can be raised at the same time, then jolly-good.
Taken from the DGR style guide, the ride welcomes a pretty wide range of different types of motorcycle. The most well-known is of course the Cafe Racer – ‘a lightweight, customised classic with a race inspired flair’. Matt’s Honda CB125 carries road registration and along with its requirement for roll-starts it pretty much defines what a proper cafe racer is.
Tracker – ‘classics that slide sideways’. Whilst this Yamaha SR250 is a sweet ride, it’s not a proper tracker but it certainly has influences from that style of motorcycle. It does demonstrate the creativity that’s happening though, with builders taking inspiration from many diverse influences.
Scrambler – ‘heavy duty classics ready to hit the beaten track’. Tom, the man behind Glory Road Motorcycles, rolled down on his Triumph TR5T which looks like something Steve McQueen would throw a leg over at any minute.
Classic – ‘commuter bikes from the dawn of motorcycling to the 1970’s’. These are the guys usually doing it the hardest. Often modern bikes from the eighties and nineties can be backdated to look properly old, but once you’ve watched a guy try to start a 1940’s Royal Enfield you can quickly spot the imposters.
Scooter – ‘older pre-70’s metal bodied scooters stamped the old fashioned way’. Michael pulled this old 50’s East German Zundapp out of a garage a few months back and managed to get it running in time for the DGR. And what’s even more of a surprise to him is that he actually made it the whole way! He did admit to hooking his trailer up to the car and having it staged in the driveway so that his wife could come and collect him if needed, though.
Modern Classic – ‘late model iterations of Vintage English and European commuter bikes’. This style of motorcycle is becoming increasingly popular. To all but the trained eye they provide the cool vintage vibes without the need to carry a pocket full of different spark plugs and a full tool kit wherever you go.
And finally, Undefinable – ‘the awesome, the kooky, that little something different with ingredients from all of the above’. Nothing else at the ride was really more awesome, kooky, different or undefinable than this little Honda Monkey Bike. Standing barely as tall as your knee, it packed some serious mechanical modification and I overheard the owner say that it’s good for over 80km/h!
After sufficient time for a few coffees and inspection of the assembled bikes, the Adelaide ride organiser Blake called the group together outside Midwest Trader to give out the instructions. The ride is kept relatively secret to all but those who have officially registered to try and increase the raised amount, and it seems to have worked. The Adelaide ride alone raised $32,244 for prostate cancer charities, and the worldwide figure sits at well over AUD$3.1million.
The signal was given and the hundreds of bikes lined up in formation out of Ebenezer Place. There were many an unsilenced exhaust in the pack and the early morning roar could be heard for blocks. It drew quite a crowd of assembled cafe-goers as the pack pulled out onto Rundle Street.
Fundraising is a bit like an impending torturous fitness regime. Put a lovely old lady in a shopping mall with a tin and everyone subconsciously tends to walk to the other side of the path. It’s not that we don’t want to give, we know we should. We just usually don’t. But the DGR is fundraising from a different angle – a bunch of people who just want to put a suit on and go for a ride on their bike, and hey we might as well make it for a good cause while we’re at it.
Words and photos by Andrew Coles.
Previous DGR coverage on Any Given Reason: