Our Founder, Prof Neil Barron and Sales Manager Phil Dowling entered this year's ride out for men's health; The Distinguished Gentleman's Ride (Cardiff) 2022. Here's the story written by Neil and Phil:
Both Phil and I had always wanted to ride out on DGR but for one reason and another it hadn’t happened. This year we were determined. DGR is now in its 10th year and is a global phenomenon which started in Sydney and quickly spread to riders around the world, capturing the intersection of custom, cafe racer & classic motorcycles with a quest for increased awareness of men’s health issues. These include mental health and prostate cancer which together account for a high level of mortality amongst men. There are around 12,000 prostate cancer deaths in the UK every year, that's 33 every day (2017-2019). I think it’s fair to say that getting men to talk about health is more difficult than getting them to go en masse on motorcycles. Perhaps most surprising is the Go Dapper element - but this is the clever bit, a throng of motorcyclists in bow ties and tweed is substantially less intimidating than their leather clad brethren. DGR is all about breaking down barriers and despite the name it is actually an inclusive event.
Primarily sponsored by Triumph motorcycles, the pinnacle of mainstream cool classic revival motorcycles, this year Triumph have teamed up with Gibson guitars under the banner of 1959 Legends. Together they’ve created a really desirable matching set; a custom painted Bonneville T120 motorcycle plus a Gibson Les Paul reissue guitar, as a prize for the rider generating the largest donation pot.
So, what to ride for DGR2022. Well both Phil and I have distinctly non classic rides as our everyday motorcycles. Fortunately our PR company Shellwood Blake came to the rescue as they also represent another rather better known and great British brand, Royal Enfield. Royal Enfield have the distinction of being the longest motorcycle brand in continuous production with well over a hundred & twenty years under their belt (first motorcycle 1901). Enfields have been produced in mind boggling numbers in India since 1955, with a peak output of over 1million motorcycles in 2018. Put into context, UK new annual registrations of all motorcycles and scooters run at around 100,000 per year, which sadly are matched one to one by the number of reported thefts.
Royal Enfield launched a few vintage inspired classic machines back in 2018, based on previous models from the 1960s, and we were lucky enough to loan a Continental GT 650 and an Interceptor 650. I rode the Conti which is a cafe racer style bike in the Thruxton or Bonneville style and Phil rode the Interceptor which is fundamentally the same but more upright with a bench seat and scrambler bars. The paint jobs were really interesting and whilst we don’t know the full story, the Conti had a Japanese theme and the Interceptor looked like a more French or Spanish theme.
The motorcycles are great fun and ride really well - they both have ABS and modern suspension yet still give the classic no frills exhilarating ride. They aren’t particularly powerful but what they lack in horsepower they make up for in style and by the end we were really quite attached. They are excellent and amazingly affordable.
So to the ride out itself. We had joined several hundred ‘gents’ for the Cardiff ride which started right in the old centre of Cardiff just behind the museum and in the heart of the Cardiff University quarter. I’m from just outside of Cardiff so for me this was like a home coming and Phil is from not far away too. Over to him to cover the ride: Over to Phil to cover the ride itself:
The Ride Out
Finally! I was able to take part in The Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride and it was just the event I hoped it would be. The Movember movement, that is supported by the DGR is always a charity that is close to my heart.
The idea of dressing smart and riding a motorbike for the day with like minded individuals to raise awareness & money is an easy one to say a big yes to.
The Cardiff event was fantastically organised, with a real friendly group feel but also really touched on the sad reasons that events such as these need to be held. The pre-ride speeches really brought home just how important mental health and prostate health is for us all and the real “why” we were all there. Big shout out to Lads and Dads a fabulous Bridgend based action group who are really making a difference.
We were doubly lucky this year with the weather being actually too warm for the chosen dapper outfit and also that we were able to ride around the loop on the two really dapper (and quite famous) Royal Enfields kindly supplied by RE.
We headed out of Cardiff like a giant tweedy snake popping and snarling towards Penarth then for a short stop across to Barry Island for a breather. There was lots of mutual bike admiration and cheery banter. One extremely organised rider had brought a more continental flavour of cheese and baguette in a wicker picnic basket on the back of his ride, and was flying the French flag. Inspired.
We found ourselves riding amongst the brilliant Baffle Culture guys including a rather distinguished looking George North. We defy any Welsh person not to enjoy riding with this Welsh rugby legend.
Heading off Barry Island we passed back through Barry and unexpectedly past Neil’s primary school captured by one of the official photographers. Neil was a little taken aback by that one.
We then headed back along the new five mile lane and back into Cardiff to soak up the post ride atmosphere and to some coffee and cake, with a sense of something experienced and something achieved. Marvellous.
Chapeau! Thank you and well done to all involved. Here’s to next year!
Neil Barron & Phil Dowling, LITELOK