By Jacob Vaughan | All photos: Jacob Vaughan
When we set out to be a part of The Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride (DGR) in New York City, we had no idea just how massive and thought out the event is. Tucker Sales Director Tom Owens loaded up his 2001 Triumph Bonneville and headed to New Jersey from Boston for the American Flat Track Meadowlands Mile. After Saturday night’s race, we unloaded and set out on our journey to the Big Apple. With the help of a local shop, I was able to ride in style with a 2019 Husqvarna Vitpilen 701 loaner. Not sure of what to expect, I threw on a pair of suspenders and a bow tie.
According to its website, The Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride was founded in Sydney, Australia, by Mark Hawwa. It was inspired by a photo of TV Show Mad Men’s Don Draper astride a classic bike and wearing his finest suit. Mark decided a themed ride would be a great way of connecting niche motorcycle enthusiasts and communities while raising funds to support the men in their lives. Together, DGR and The Movember Foundation work to tackle men’s health issues. The focus is on gentlemen who have been dealt a tough hand in life. In particular, they raise funds for cutting-edge research into prostate cancer, and mental health and suicide prevention programs, as part of its mission to support men’s health globally. The 2019 event consisted of 675+ rides in 110 countries, with over 114 thousand riders total worldwide. This year’s event raised over $7 million for the Movember Foundation. In total, DGR has raised over $26 million since its inception in 2012.
Upon arrival just under the Brooklyn Bridge, Tom and I were greeted by the DGR hosts. They guided us where to park our bikes, and we made our way through the sea of vintage and modern bikes on the original cobblestone roads of Manhattan. Kickstands down, we walked around to take in the sights and sounds, the smell of coffee filled the air on a beautiful morning. The crowd was dapper, with a New York high-fashion runway feel. Everyone was all smiles, taking photos, and checking out all of the amazing vintage bikes. There were sidecars, vintage Triumphs, CBs, Yamahas, choppers, and Ducatis, as well as modern HDs and Urals. A pop-up barbershop was set up for clean cuts and merchandise to show off your support. British fashion designer and car collector Magnus Walker was also in attendance and rode alongside his girlfriend in a pretty sweet vintage sidecar. The ladies were also there in support of the cause, dressed up in their finest. Some rode on the back with their gentleman, and many rode on their own. After a quick group meeting, kickstands were up, and we were off.
Dozens of NYPD’s finest led the way on motorcycles, with the roads shut down on or route, and hundreds of people crowded along the sidewalks and on bridges taking photos and waving. It was pretty amazing to see that their smiles were just as big as ours. The pace varied; at times we slowed down to stop and exit as the 800+ bikes bottlenecked on the now open roads of NYC. Other times we weaved in and out of each other at 60 miles an hour. Pretty amazing to think we had free reign on New York’s most popular and ordinarily congested roads and to ourselves for a few hours. We wound our way over the Brooklyn and Queensboro Street bridges, up the FDR, down the West Side Highway, through Central Park, Columbus Circle and Grand Army Plaza, and down the FDR, ducking under the Manhattan Bridge. The weather couldn’t have been better.
Watching riders all around you dressed to impress showing off their vintage bikes was something different. Similar to sitting at a local pub people watching. The thumbs up from spectators as we passed by, and the kids waving at us felt like we were front and center in a parade. The Kings of New York for a few hours. As we made our way back to the starting point and parked, we looked around, smiling ear to ear, and just said, “wow.” It was an incredible experience, and to know that we contributed to a great cause made it even better. If you’re looking for a bucket-list ride, add this one to a city near you!
Learn more about the Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride at www.gentlemansride.com.