The Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride is a Shriner’s parade in nicer clothes with less Illuminati. You get all dolled up in your Sunday’s best, roll to a spot, and then ride out in a giant pack doing the speed limit while not trying to get ass-packed by a poorly-tuned CB750 ridden by some clown trying to Snapchat his cute helmet/tie combo instead of keeping his eyes on the road. Oh, and it raises funds to fight prostate cancer.
That’s all well and good, but should you do it? The DGR is a great way to start off our new series on motorcycle events, “See or Skip.”
Bike events are one of two things: the most amazing communal experience of two-wheeled enthusiasm, or a cesspool of cliques, bad attitudes, and stagnant riding.
So, should you stay, or should you go? Can you conquer the FOMO? We’re here to help by highlighting the good, the bad, and the ugly about any event we get invited to (whether we actually attend or not).
The three aspects will be:
- Ride Quality
- Community Experience
- IS IT HIPSTER OR SQUIDLY? Because we’re tired of people whining and dismissing things as hipster or for squids in the comments. We’ll call it out, so you don’t have to.
With that in mind we’ll kick it off with the Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride.
The host for my ride, the Chicago event, was Motoworks Chicago. They’re one of the Triumph/Ducati/Vespa dealers in the city, and the route they had was the best possible scenario for the grid hell that is Chi-town as the tourists call it.
We headed deep into Loop, then popped onto Lake Shore Drive along the lake, through Lincoln Park, and then ended near Wrigley Field. Pretty standard ride for Chicago - very few turns, plenty of hellish potholes, and nice scenery. No hot dogs were consumed during the route. Obviously your results will vary on this, since each city plans its own route, and probably has more riding material to work with.
Group rides are the bee’s knees with a couple of your favorite buddies. However, multiply that by a couple hundred people, then add the exponential threat of clapped out vintage bikes sputtering in front of you, and all the variance of riding skill between 500 people and you get, in layman’s terms, a powder keg.
This DGR was not an organized ride. It was a haggard crawl through downtown as people blocked off intersections and blew through stoplights.
If you changed the bike to Harleys or sportbikes it would have made the news and scared people, but apparently breaking rules is fine if you’re twee and in a suit. I’ll remember that for my next heist.
If you want to attend, be aware that you better be pretty comfortable doing a bit of dicing in the scrum. Some rides will be smaller, some will be bigger. Strategies differed from doddering in the middle of the pack to avoid detection, to bombing along either sides in the bike lanes.
The goal of this event is obviously WITNESS ME RIDING A MOTORCYCLE IN A SUIT, even with the charity focus. Mission accomplished. Cutting through the heart of the city, everybody saw us be totes adorbs. Maximum exposure points for DGR. If you love attention, you will love this event.
Riding Verdict: More being seen than shredding gnar.
This is a bit of split between the organizers and the hosts of the rides. Motoworks always puts on a good show. They have a hugely diverse rider base of customers who are diehards and some tryhards, but the result is always a product that makes you walk away learning something about somebody else’s bike and story.
Their DGR was no different. Everybody came out. Busas, Panigales, GIXXERs, Sidecars, Scenester Bonnies/Scramblers/Guzzis, and vintage irons ridden by both people that bought it a year ago, to people that bought them when it was new.
Everybody dressed up. The dapper game was on fleek, as I understand today’s teens like to say. I wore everybody’s favorite bowtie and absolutely failed at being dapper in comparison. Seersucker three-piece suits, tuxes, wingtips, mustache wax. Pinterest barfed all over this event.
I met up with a smaller group beforehand at a Barbershop, Analog Motorcycles, and even at 8am before the event it was good conversation, good people, and laid back times. It was not snobbish, sceney, or smug in the slightest. I definitely look forward to riding with them again.
That being said….
I have a huge problem with the DGR for trying to set up velvet ropes for who can and cannot participate. It even goes so far as to have a “Style Guide” for what motorcycle to ride. I get it, you want pictures to look cute and you think sportbikes are the devil to your delicate eyes.
However, everybody looks good in a suit. I mean, look at my boy Nathon to the left and tell me his Tom Ford-wearing ass doesn’t look all sorts of distinguished. This is supposedly for a good cause, so if everybody’s wearing a suit and donating, what’s the problem?
My suggestion, donate to your local riding chapter, dress up in a suit, and run what ya brung. I’m calling it. Anarchy for Charity. I draw the line at dressing up, because that is the one aspect of the event that separates it from other charity rides. Without that, it’s just another fundraiser and probably wouldn’t be as popular.
Verdict: Awesome job local chapters for letting people in. DGR needs to let go of the snob knozzle.
IS IT HIPSTER?
You bet your poop-bearded, Wes Anderson’d, man-bunned, CB125 Cafe/Tracker/Scrambler, free range ass it is.
If you can’t handle that, stay home and browse /r/motorcycles talking about how dumb hipsters are, or even better, stay here on Lanesplitter and do that.
If you’re into (or can tolerate) hipster nonsense, want to have fun, and want to meet the maximum amount of like-minded riders in your area for a good cause, definitely make an appearance.
Go for the cause, not for the clothes. Find a smaller riding group beforehand and get a good ride in before heading to the event. Go home after, change into real gear, and go for a real ride.
We appreciate they’re doing this for a great cause, and that they’ve found a way to spread this thing like wildfire - we’d just like to see the them put a little more focus on actually helping raise funds by being a little more inclusive.
Have an event you’re interested in? Post it up in the comments below or email Sean or something. He loves having his inbox filled.
Photos: Geoff Barrenger, Joseph Gustafson, and Brandon LaJoie.
Joseph Gustafson is Lanesplitter’s most loudmouthed contributor. His mouth is much faster than his riding acumen. He enjoys taking long rides on the road, short rides on the dirt, and finding new ways to use the term “voracious” in a sentence. Follow him on Instagram and Twitter as he butchers welding and words in the pursuit for hashtag glory.