The start of the 2016 Cape Town Distinguished Gentleman's ride. File photo: Dave Abrahams

Cape Town – It’s time to dig out the tweed jacket, the bowtie, the brocade waistcoat and your shiniest shoes again, for the Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride, held worldwide on the last Sunday in September each year to raise funds for prostate cancer research and mental health.

It was founded in 2012 by Mark Hawwa of Sydney inspired, he says, by a picture of Mad Men’s Don Draper in a fine suit on a classic bike. And thus, since retro bike culture focuses primarily on 1960s Britbikes, the Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride was born.

Hawwa encouraged gentlemen and ladies with vintage bikes of the period, retro machines, café racers and bobbers, to dress smartly for the occasion (‘dapper’ was the word he used, a term that has come to define the Ride), to behave as befits the occasion and to ride together for the cause, wherever they were.

Perfect timing

As an expression of a biking counterculture that was just taking off, its timing was perfect; in 2012, thanks to inspired use of social media, 2500 riders took part in 64 cities around the world.

In 2016, more than 57 000 smartly-dressed riders in 505 cities in 90 countries riders in 145 cities raised $3.65 million to help fund research into prostate cancer and support male suicide prevention on behalf of the Movember Foundation.

And a week before the 2017 Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride, 60 000 online registrations had already been recorded, and they were already halfway towards their target of $5 million.

Dress dapper, behave like a gentleman

While the ride is all about evoking a period and a motorcycling way of life, all riders are welcome take part. Whatever you’re on, however, you are encouraged to dress smartly in the fashion of the period and behave appropriately.

Visit the Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride website to find the ride nearest you, register online, start raising money and prepare for a ride which will be neither the fastest nor the longest on your calendar, but certainly the most stylish.

*The Cape Town Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride will meet at Los Muertos, 31 Loop Street, from 9.30am on Sunday 24 September, to depart at 10.30. There will also be Distinguished Gentleman’s Rides in Johannesburg, Durban, Bloemfontein and East London

IOL Motoring
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