Are you Distinguished ?
The Distinguished Gentleman's ride is an important date on the calendar of many classic and classic custom riders around the world, what started has an excuse to ride around Sydney in fine suits quickly became one of the worlds biggest charity ride. We caught up with the creator of this worldwide phenomenon, Mark Hawwa, to get the low down on how it all started, where its heading and what DGR is all about.
What was the catalyst to DGR? How did the idea come up?
An image of Jon Mann from Mad Man had circulated through one of our Australian based groups. He was dressed in a suit on a classic bike. The idea was born. A suit ride through Perth was transformed into The Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride across 64 cities in that first year. All events taking place on the exact same date.
What’s the main message you’re trying to spread with DGR?
There are multiple main messages, which I agree does confuse some people unfortunately. The Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride was originally founded to bring those with classic styled bikes together. This is an event for the little guys. The bikes that don’t see light of day often and its an opportunity for the cafe racer, bobber and classic styled bike aficionados to connect and meet likeminded people. In 2013 we teamed up with multiple prostate cancer charities and decided to raised funds on their behalf and spread the message to get checked. We continue to spread that message and raise funds that benefit all men including men who don’t ride. Its very much still an event for classic styled bikes.
What charities is the ride supporting?
This year we are supporting The Prostate Cancer Foundation USA, Australia, UK, NZ and Prostate Cancer Canada. We continue to add to this list as the concept grows but truth be said with such a small DGR team its a bit of a balancing act working with 5 charities let alone one in each 80 countries.
Why do you think people all over the world love this ride?
Personally i think its because its not something you see everyday. Its very rare you see classic bikes being ridden by ladies and gentlemen dressed so dapper. its a fun event, it brings people together, it shows the world chivalry isn’t dead and its an excuse to dust off your classic bike and join us for a ride. I think the fact is also supports prostate cancer research and awareness gives it even more reason to be a part of it.
How many riders have registered worldwide so far?
At the moment it is around 18,000 participants We would expect that to edge a little closer to 25,000 before the event. For us its honestly just a number. As an event we want to keep the rides manageable and safe so although a lot of people enjoying pushing their bigger is better attitude we very much aim to keep things small, safe, manageable and in doing so ensure the longevity of this event and its charitable outcomes.
How do riders raise money for the cause that is DGR?
Typically they use their profile once they have registered as the tool to generate funds for their regions Prostate Cancer Foundation. That being said we have seen people sell one of their bikes and donate the proceeds, Triumph gave us the Scrambler from Jurassic World to auction off (which raised over AUD$60,000). The easiest way is to simply ask your friends and family to support your Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride. As a result of garnering support you also have opportunities win great prizes from the likes of Triumph, Saint.CC, Dime City Cycles, Davida and of course yourselves - Deus.
How can people register?
Head to www.gentlemansride.com and click the register button! Once you register, you will also find the details for your local ride. In in the interest of safety and all the political correctness of 2015 including insurances and all that jazz - Only people who register will get access to the ride details including the starting, regroup and finishing location.
Can pillion riders help raise money too?
Of course! in 2014 we added the function of Pillions! The cool thing is their total links in with the riders total so we can determine who was the highest fundraising motorcycle pillioning team! Yeee haaaa.
You recently raised a milestone 1million Australian dollars for the cause, how much more are you hoping to raise?
Its very difficult to say. Each year we have set what has been called unrealistic goals by nearly everyone we know and each year we have passed them! Last year our goal was $1m(USD) and we raised $1.5(USD). With fluctuations and multiple currencies especially the drop in dollar against the US, I highly doubt we will reach USD$3m But I am confident we will get very close to $3m AUD.
What can people who have never been on a DGR ride expect?
Well it all depends on where they are located! For instance on the smaller rides it will be a fun intimate affair and on the larger ones it sometimes is a little bit more manic but controlled. We have guidelines in place for all organisers to ensure the safety of each rider and some strict rules to keep the event a slow and gentlemanly/Gentlewomanly occasion. The one consist thing to expect will be the smiles on everyone’s face that you pass. You will be cheered, you will be saluted, you will hear clapping and you will see a lot of photos being taken by people you don’t know. The Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride is theatre.
What criteria do you have to meet to take part? Do you NEED a moustache?
No, you do not need a moustache. Clean shaven, beard, moustache, goatee, side burns - Its all about what you define as gentlefolk. We can’t sign off on all bikes at the event or have the team to respond to 25,000 emails of which bike is acceptable. So, on the website we have a style guide and if you feel your bike suits then join us. its about classic styled bikes and dapper.
Give us some do’s and don’t on riding dapper?
Slow and steady will get you to the end of this event safely. Keep enough distance ahead of you to avoid any collisions and make sure to smile to all those you see. Tally Ho Good Folk!
All photos by Laurent Nivalle.