The premise for the Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride is simple: dig out your finest whistle and flute, tear the dust sheet from your achingly stylish vintage motorcycle and join a bunch of like-minded dapper chaps on a local ride-out in a show of strength, solidarity and a little bit of posturing.
But the end result of such a display of metal and noise runs much deeper than simply an excuse to meet up with mates, wax a moustache and stare in awe at motorcycles, because since 2012, riders from all over the globe have been rolling-out en force to raise vital funds and awareness for men’s prostate cancer and mental health.
Founded in Sydney by Mark Hawwa, the Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride was allegedly inspired by a photo of Mad Men’s Don Draper sat astride a vintage machine in his sharpest suit. Hawwa wanted to dispel the widespread myth of thuggish, bearded bikers by gathering some of the finest looking gentleman and their equally rakish motorcycles.
Since 2012, the gathering has mushroomed from around 2,500 riders from 64 cities to 56,000 participants in 505 cities last year, with the total raised for charity topping $3.6 million.
Not ones to shy away from our duties as dapper gentlemen, Flat-Out dug out a suit, threw some pomade on the quiff and joined the local Bournemouth ride out aboard the excellent Triumph Street Twin.
Some 400-odd riders gathered at the picturesque Poole Quay, where passers-by and tourists stopped in their tracks to take photos and local traffic was temporarily brought to a halt as a steady flow of machines filled the quayside.
Heavily customised creations rode alongside sputtering vintage fayre, while retro-modern offerings happily gave way to historic scooters.
There was a strong showing from Triumph this year, as the British brand not only represented with its latest line of modern classics, but also seemed to be the badge of choice for those vintage connoisseurs dusting off their prized possessions for the annual pilgrimage.
The Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride guidelines do state that bobbers, trackers, scramblers, cafe racers, choppers and old school cool are most welcome at the global meets, meaning the event is the perfect place to check out your local custom creations but organisers also turn a blind eye to anything that doesn’t quite fit the bill, so long as you wear a smile .
However, a superb vintage turnout meant that this year’s ride offered an excellent opportunity to spot rare and dying breeds (the bikes. not their owners), as well as a razor sharp smattering of tweed, the odd monocle and enough careful crafted facial fuzz to last a lifetime.
Raising well in excess of £18,000, the Bournemouth leg of 2017 Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride proved that it is not only one of the best bike-based charity events in the world, it is also one of the coolest meet ups on the calendar.
Visit the website for information on next year’s event