For one day each year, a determined group of motorcycle riders cinch up their neckties and join their fellow enthusiasts for a worldwide benefit ride. Hordes of motorcyclists — both men and women — wearing suits and formal wear take to the roads in the annual Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride.
The event, normally held in September but now scheduled for May 22, brings together riders of classic and vintage-styled motorcycles to raise funds to battle men’s health issues, including prostate cancer and suicide prevention. In the last 10 years, the worldwide event has raised more than $31 million.
Nearly 100 million motorcyclists from 90-plus countries will dress up and ride on that Sunday in cities across the world. Here in the Blue Ridge Mountains, the Western North Carolina event will kick off at the famous Dale’s Wheels Through Time motorcycle museum in Maggie Valley, N.C. Organizers of the Asheville ride hope to attract more riders this year by staging the start of the ride at the museum, known for its incredible collection of vintage motorcycles. Vintage, retro-styled and custom bikes are the intended focus, but all makes and models are welcome to join the ride.
“Of course, everybody dresses to the nines, which is a big part of the fun of doing it,” John Gustafson, a member of the board of directors for Dale’s Wheels Through, said at a previous Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride. “I like it a lot. I have an ensemble that I only wear once a year for this thing.”
Ed Carroll, A Vietnam veteran and prostate cancer survivor, organizes the Asheville-area ride, which draws riders each year to explore the mountain roads and compare who wore the most dapper apparel.
“I think as we go along, more and more people are going to know what it’s about. Particularly we want to get more women riders involved,” Carroll said. “We want to be all inclusive if we can. We’re not going to turn anybody away. We ask them to ride something appropriate, chopper or café racer or vintage bike, anything like that is great.”
DGR helps fund the Movember Foundation, an international charity helping prostate cancer, testicular cancer and suicide prevention efforts.
“Globally, three-quarters of all suicides are men, which is something I didn’t realize,” Carroll said.
The Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride was founded in Sydney, Australia, in 2012 by Mark Hawwa. Inspired by a photograph featuring classic suits and vintage motorcycles, Hawwa decided a themed ride would be a great way to connect the global motorcycling community and raise funds for a cause important to every rider.
“It’s unfathomable to think that 10 years ago, and idea to bring a few dapper men and women together on classic bikes to change the stereotypes of motorcyclists went viral. Since then, we’ve made so many incredible connections and met so many inspiring people, all while raising a huge amount of funds and awareness for men’s health on behalf of Movember,” Hawwa said in a press release.
To join the May 22 event in a city near you, visit gentlemansride.com.
Michael E. Gouge, Editor-in-Chief