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Distinguished gentlemen to ride through Cambridge in September

The Distinguished Gentlemens Ride. Picture: Keith Heppell
The Distinguished Gentlemens Ride. Picture: Keith Heppell

Well-dressed motorcyclists – some of them sporting carefully cultivated facial hair – will unite as The Distinguished Gentlemen’s Ride, shines a spotlight on men’s health in cities around the world.

Motorcycle enthusiast Tony Smith. Picture: Keith Heppell
Motorcycle enthusiast Tony Smith. Picture: Keith Heppell

The charity event, held annually on the last Sunday in September, brings together dapper-dressed riders of classic and vintage-style motorcycles to aid projects fighting the two biggest causes of early death in men: suicide and prostate cancer.

Founded in Sydney, Australia, by Mark Hawwa in 2012, the event has raised more than $13 million to date, including $6 million this year from an anticipated 120,000 men and women in 650 cities across 95 countries.

The ride, sponsored by Triumph motorcycles and Swiss watchmaker Zenith, is returning to Cambridge for the third year – in 2016 it raised just over £21,000 from 140 riders and 2017’s event raised £24,000 from 305.

The sums make Cambridge the 20th biggest contributor in the world – and this year the organisers have set an ambitious target of £40,000 from 500 registered riders.

Distinguished Gentlemens Ride logo
Distinguished Gentlemens Ride logo

The Cambridge ride is also supported by some local businesses. One of them, Hot Numbers cafe and roastery, is creating a new blend of coffee with sales proceeds being donated to it. The Movember Foundation is the charity partner.

Cambridge host and organiser, Edward Stow, said the exact route could not be disclosed. “The ride has a style guide and is considered a niche event,” he explained. “In order to manage the risk of non-registered riders turning up on incorrectly-styled bikes, only riders registered and with a fundraising profile have access to the ride details.

“I can say that the ride starts on the outskirts of Cambridge, comes through the city and finishes on the outskirts. If you are in the historic centre around midday on September 30, you will see and hear us come through.”

The special blend of coffee was created on Monday (August 6) at Hot Numbers’ roastery in Royston, with two representatives from the Movember Foundation – Ben Bowers and Gaz Aldafai – in attendance.

Motorcycle enthusiasts Brian James and Tony Smith with some old motorbikes. Picture: Keith Heppell
Motorcycle enthusiasts Brian James and Tony Smith with some old motorbikes. Picture: Keith Heppell

Edward, from Cambridge, said: “The initiative is to try and do a few more things around the ride this year to try and enable the public to donate into the ride. One of the things that we’ve found is that 20 to 30 per cent of the funding in each city comes from the riders.”

Thanks to the support of Hot Numbers proprietor Simon Fraser, a proportion of sales from the new blend – available as a drink or as ground coffee or beans at Hot Numbers’ cafes in Cambridge through September – will be donated to the cause.

For Edward, the ride is all about connecting people. “I got into motorcycles later in life,” he said. “I went through quite a heavy period of depression and I was beginning to move out of that and look at various different things to enable greater social connection – and motorcycles was one of those avenues.

“I suddenly found as I bought my motorcycle that a couple of old friends also had old, classic-style motorcycles – and we had a soft agreement that we’d go down and see the London ride. It was about the time when the London ride was beginning to hit its upper limit of capacity.”

Working in the pharmaceutical industry, Edward has always felt Cambridge’s vibrant economy would support such an event.

“I thought, ‘Why don’t we do something like this here, nobody’s doing it?’ I saw people pottering about on old motorcycles and I thought it would be such a great initiative just to kick things off – so I volunteered myself.”

Gaz Aldafai, of the Movember Foundation, said: “A total of $6,088,743 raised from the 2016 and 2017 DGR campaigns has been invested in men’s health programs globally. These funds are already seeing results, and our plans for this year are even bigger.”


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