News Feature

DGR classic riders taking over NYC Sept. 24 for prostate cancer research funding



August 16, 2017 | Rahoul Ghose

distinguished gentleman's ride images from 2016 new york ride | rahoul ghose

North America's top Distinguished Gentleman's Ride city from last year will again be donning dapper gear and firing up hundreds of classic motorcycles Sept. 24 to raise funds for prostate cancer research and male suicide prevention resources.

As a tip of the hat to being one of the world's top cities -- a quartet which also includes London, Paris and Sydney -- New York City is even included in the international event's branding graphics, a fact not lost on local ride leader Mike Higgins, who has helped organize the NYC ride since 2015.


"I do get some pride from that," said Higgins, who will likely be riding his '67 Honda CB450 -- dubbed the Black Bomber -- again this year. "I think it says more about how NYC is perceived as a world capital -- but for us it just reinforces our desire to put on a ride that lives up to that ... I'm thrilled to see Lady Liberty on the poster."

mike higgins leading the 2016 nyc distinguished gentleman's ride over the brooklyn bridge | ryan handt
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  I think (New York's inclusion on the DGR marketing materials) says more about how NYC is perceived as a world capital -- but for us it just reinforces our desire to put on a ride that lives up to that ... I'm thrilled to see Lady Liberty on the poster.   

-- Mike Higgins, DGR NYC ride leader
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The NYC 2016 event drew 750-plus riders for the parade of bikes circumnavigating Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn, with New York raising nearly $125,000 as part of a global effort which topped $4.5 million.

The Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride this year expects more than 70,000 well dressed gentlefolk in 600+ cities, across 95 countries, to ride motorcycles in aid of men's health. The goal for 2017 is to raise awareness and $5 million for prostate cancer and men’s mental health on behalf of charity partner the Movember Foundation.

All participating riders must be registered on The Distinguished Gentleman's Ride website to unlock local 'ride details', and to be in the running for amazing prizes and rewards for their fundraising efforts. But those looking to see the dapper group on the day can view NYC bikes and gentlefolk at a familiar meeting point.

“It's no big secret that we end at the Seaport," Higgins says. "That's a venue we can't really find anywhere else. But, this year we are trying out a new route that'll let us move a bit more freely, and still have some great NYC photo ops.”

The 45-year-old advertising guru and copy writer, adds the local ride -- capped at 1,000 bikes this year -- hopes to break the $200,000 mark.

"Pre-rides and breakfast events are coming together," he says. "Nothing is locked down yet -- but Ducati Triumph NYC will probably do an early meet up at the dealership in SoHo, and bring a good crew."

An après party location is also currently being negotiated.

On the NYC core team Higgins -- a transplant from Kansas who made his move to New York almost two decades ago -- shares ride logistics duties with Allister Klingensmith, while Dave Genat and Chad Kincaid spearhead other efforts including sponsorship.

"We all work together but try to spread the (tasks) out. It takes a ton of time and energy -- especially in the final couple months," Higgins says.

"This’ll be my third year as an organizer. I was just a curious rider the first time I rode," he remembers. "It was the 2013 ride, and just an event that I kept seeing on my Instagram. So I threw on a suit and showed up. I met some great people and asked to get involved. After the main organizer stepped down the following year, and a couple people moved, I was suddenly thrust into the lead role. I’ve embraced it since, and like I said, get plenty of support -- so it’s been a good thing."

Local New York ride sponsors include host partner Seaport District NYC -- where the finale festivities will be staged, Van Heusen (fashion), Dainese NYC (safety gear), Ducati Triumph NYC, Godspeed Co, Proraso (shaving products) and Jack's Stir Brew Coffee.

Worldwide event sponsors include Triumph, Zenith Watches, and helmets by Hedon.

local sponsor ducati triumph nyc getting in the distinguished gentleman's ride spirit
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  We’ve never had any incidents, thankfully, but safety is always a concern. We’re working really closely with the NYPD this year. As we grow, we are more on their radar, so they’ll be helping to lead us through the route and keep things moving. It’s a balance for sure -- as soon as you involve the NYPD, they’re in charge a bit. But I think it’ll be great, and pretty cool to have them joining us.   

-- Mike Higgins, DGR NYC ride leader
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For Higgins the event is as much about style -- classic bikes and fashionable attire -- as it is about what it means to be a gentleman/gentlewoman in New York.

"The ride dispenses the notion that a large group of motorcyclists is a biker gang, rebellious .. a rogue element. In fact over the past years the public has met a polite group of riders that exemplify courteousness ... they look the part, so they act the part ... the moto guy that will hold the door for you."

"New Yorkers just bring that style, and really raise the bar. So we just try to give the people that go to all that effort a good ride -- that’s why the partnership with Seaport is great -- it lets us build a true event that really keeps that spirit and energy going all day."

On the safety side ride organizers have brought the NYPD on board to help with traffic control and overall route management on the day.

"We’ve never had any incidents, thankfully, but safety is always a concern. We’re working really closely with the NYPD this year. As we grow, we are more on their radar, so they’ll be helping to lead us through the route and keep things moving. It’s a balance for sure -- as soon as you involve the NYPD, they’re in charge a bit. But I think it’ll be great, and pretty cool to have them joining us."

Participants are also encouraged to have well-maintained, licenced and inspected rides as well as DOT-compliant helmets. But for those classic vintage riders who may encounter a breakdown on the day, the event will have a chase van to help out. Organizers are even experimenting with a route mapping app for possible use by riders to track where the group is in the city as well as pinpoint any individuals on the ride who may have fallen behind.

P R I Z E S

For participants globally, fundraising prizes this year include:

  1. Top Global Fundraiser: Triumph Bonneville Bobber, Limited Zenith DGR Ton-Up Watch,
    Hedon Kingpin Helmet

  2. 2nd Highest Global Fundraiser: Triumph Thruxton R, Limited Zenith DGR Ton-Up Watch,
    DGR 2017 Hedon Helmet

  3. 3rd Highest Global Fundraiser: Triumph Bonneville T120 Black, Limited Zenith DGR Ton-Up Watch,
    DGR 2017 Hedon Helmet

  4. Top 100 Global Fundraisers: DGR 2017 Hedon Helmet

  5. Gentlefolk Prize Competition: 2017 Triumph Bonneville T120, Limited Zenith DGR Ton-Up Watch,
    DGR 2017 Hedon Helmet
2017 prizes courtesy of triumph, zenith watches and helmets by hedon | distinguished gentleman's ride
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  Just go all in. I think the more you embrace the Ride Dapper mantra and have fun with it the more the day is an event for you. I’d also just say to expect a slow ride with friends, vs a sprint to Bear Mountain and back. It’s just not that kind of ride. It’s about the spectacle and the camaraderie … and the bikes! You’ll see a lot of gorgeous bikes.  

-- Mike Higgins, DGR NYC ride leader
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Higgins' hope is for a fun and safe ride on the day, and the city again according itself well in the fundraising department.

For newcomers, he offers this gentlemanly advice: "Just go all in. I think the more you embrace the Ride Dapper mantra, and have fun with it, the more the day is an event for you. I’d also just say to expect a slow ride with friends, vs a sprint to Bear Mountain and back. It’s just not that kind of ride. It’s about the spectacle and the camaraderie ... and the bikes! You’ll see a lot of gorgeous bikes."

Rumor has it (and we got this directly from the horse's mouth) that the DGR's top man -- Aussie Mark Hawwa -- may be participating in the New York ride in 2018. This year he's in Milan, Italy.

For now, sign up to raise funds this year, and plan on a day worthy of gentlefolk. There will even be a barber on hand if your doo isn't quite up to snuff.

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V O L U N T E E R S

DGR NYC needs volunteers, both mounted and unmounted. Friends and family of participants that don't ride can help out at the event by lending a hand at the Seaport, manning a support booth. Rider volunteers are also needed to mark key corners, and be first aid riders (certified EMTs) with a portable first aid kit.

Potential volunteers should contact ride organizers at: higgins@77stories.com

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2017 distinguished gentleman's ride international promotional video | aug 2017
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E D I T O R ' S  N O T E:

This is DGR no.5 for me (@thruxton999) -- two in Los Angeles (as an organizer) and now three in NYC (as a rider) ... a worthy cause to support and a great event to participate in. If you would like to help with NYC Motorcyclist’s fundraising efforts, please make a donation at: https://www.gentlemansride.com/fundraiser/thruxton999

We are also part of the NY Classic Riders fundraising team, hoping to help them become the top group in the world. Go NYCR!

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