On Sunday, September 30th
, distinguished gentlefolk from cities across the globe donned fancy attire and straddled vintage and retro inspired motorcycles to support Men’s health. Founded in Sydney, Australia by Mark Hawwa in 2012, the Distinguished Gentleman's Ride has raised more than $924 million for their beneficiary partners, including 1,200 programs in over 20 countries.
Here in Canada, the charity partner of choice is the Movember Foundation, an organization that supports Prostate Cancer Canada and more recently an increasingly devastating predator responsible for taking the lives of many men – their own mental health. Now the world’s largest motorcycle charity event, the DGR organization aims to not only raise money, but also awareness for men’s health. Movember ambassador Adam Sanzo shared the results of this year’s stats – $78,176 raised for the cause across Canada. As a long time participant in the annual Movember campaign, it was nice to be able to support the cause without having to undergo the trauma and embarrassment of growing a moustache for a month.
Toronto riders congregated at Polson Pier under overcast skies and single digit temperatures. Ranging from sophisticated to silly, distinguished men and women assembled to pose for photos and admire each other’s machines.
Toronto DGR ambassador Paul Dutra kicked things off by thanking attendees for their generous contributions and support before commencing a somber moment of silence, acknowledging the husbands, fathers, brothers and sons who have been lost to prostate cancer or suicide. From then on it was all smiles as participants straddled their bikes and got ready to ride. While the concept is vintage or classic motorcycles, supporters aren’t turned away for taking some creative license with that. Borrowing a new Harley-Davidson Sportster 48 with an AMF-inspired paint job for the event, the Hog at least looked the part without the hassle or worry of reliability.
Given that there weren’t police escorts, riders were reminded to obey all traffic rules and provide a respectful image to those we came across as we were representing Distinguished Gentleman and should therefore act as such. The air filled with thunderous roars as nearly 400 motorcycles and scooters were brought to life. Broken up into eight groups lead by volunteer road captains, teams set off to explore the city. Given the congestion and number of traffic lights in the city, it didn’t take long for groups to be divided
The 48 impressed with its agility in the city, demonstrating its ability to dodge potholes, accelerate briskly when merging and brake abruptly to avoid being t-boned by numerous distracted red light runners. Dutra chose a route through that provided a balance of nature and cityscape views, crossing the city along the Gardiner before exploring High Park and the waterfront before arriving at Corvo Bar on Clarence Square.
Of the 389 riders that started, there were less than a handful who weren’t able to complete the entire ride due to mechanical issues. One in particular was within walking distance of the finish line when his old clutch decided it was time to stop working. While some chose to celebrate the successful ride with a cold beer, most opted for a hot coffee as the temperature still hovered around the low double digits and the threat of rain still remained.
Considering the procession through the busiest city in the country included gentlemen and women of all ages and walks of life on motorcycles and scooters as varied in age and experience as their riders, it was heartening to see the camaraderie and sense of community that materialized and new friendships that emerged.