FEELING THE NEED FOR TWEED
Motorcycles have a funny way of bringing people together. Three years ago GSCo. Founder Chris Logsdon found himself thrusted into the DGR spotlight when the event leader backed out last minute leaving Chris to lead the pack of nearly 150 well-dressed riders through the streets of NYC. Through this he met a determined group of riders doing their part to battle the ferocious enemy that is prostate cancer. It was here too that he met Michael Higgins. Dressed in a crisp suit with a shop rag as hanky and a beer in his hand, Mike introduced himself and thus forged the relationship they now share.
Fast forward two years. The GSCo relocates to Chattanooga, TN unfortunately leaving Sir Higgins to manage the ever-growing NYC DGR. But fortunately for NYC, it couldn't have been left in better hands. As you read Mike's words below and experience the photography of Jason Goodrich keep in mind all this was done out of the kindness and generosity of a few individuals willing do their part in raising awareness and funds for the cause. We applaud Mike and those who have stepped up to aid him in making the DGR NYC one grand spectacle. - GSCo.
Feeling The Need For TweedWords: Mike Higgins Images: Jason Goodrich
Kicking over the motor, my Honda revs to life. It’s early morning, the sunlight pushing through a wisp of clouds that streak an otherwise clear sky. I twist the throttle to wake both the bike and myself. I need coffee, but it’ll have to wait.
As the vintage engine warms, I train my attention to making sure I’m geared up properly for this ride. Running a gloved hand over the lapel of my newly acquired wool Herringbone suit from RRL, I size things up. Waistcoat, dress shirt, pocket square, Chelsea boots … helmet. Standing beside the quiet chatter of the classic motorbike I thumb at my top button, and lean down to adjust the knot of my necktie in the bar end mirror. Better. That’s it. I’m ready.
I first came across the Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride through a random Instagram post a couple years back. Following up on it, I found myself on an extremely agreeable, and unmistakably unique ride through the streets of Manhattan. I was hooked. The event, now in its 5th year, is a worldwide success consisting of throngs of classic motorcycle enthusiasts all eagerly embracing the mantra, “Ride Dapper.” To those ends, I was now pointing my 1967 Honda toward the South Street Seaport to help host the 2016 ride.
Newly polished chrome reflects glimpses of sun peaking through the city’s architecture as I zip through empty streets toward the bottom of the island. This morning, and this ride, has been months in the planning. While I’m proud to be a big part of it, I can take little credit as this event has taken on a life all its own.
Arriving onto the storied cobblestones that make up the oldest streets in the city, I slow the bike to a crawl. The main square, witness to a bit of everything since colonial settlers first called this tip of land home, will serve as a fitting kick-off point for the day’s charity ride to raise funds, heart rates, and as many eyebrows as possible.
I rock the bike up onto its center stand, shutting it down as I pull off my helmet. The open square, empty except for a few tourists, will soon be filled with every sort of classic two-wheeled machine, and an equally diverse congregation of riders.
Playing host to an event that has evolved to include over 55,000 riders participating in upwards of 420 separate rides across the globe is both overwhelming and utterly satisfying. The good it does worldwide for prostate cancer and other men’s health concerns can’t be overstated. For the handful of volunteers that pulled together to organize the NYC ride, it’s a labor of love. Simply being able to have a front row view of the spectacle is reward enough.
The riders roll in. A few at a time began to line up in the square, the Brooklyn Bridge, looming just blocks away. Larger groups arrive, each individual somehow more decked out than the last. Bow ties, ascots, braces, scarves and even stogies play in perfect harmony with the gloves, goggles and helmets you’d expect at a motorcycle rally. The bikes don’t disappoint either. A bit of everything makes this ride unlike any other. All of them – classic café’s, choppers, bobbers, brats, and even side-car models – make up an eclectic, if not eccentric collection of enthusiasts.
By the time I find my small band of fellow organizers to make final preparations, the throngs of meticulously clad men and machines have swelled the final ranks to more than 750, well over the 300 riders of the previous year. Finding my bike and my bearings, I revisit our planned route. In hopes of turning heads and stopping traffic, the ride will send us across the bridge to Brooklyn before setting sights on the green of Central Park, the whirl of Columbus Circle, the bustle of Times Square, and the charm of Washington Square, finally returning to the history of the Seaport for a grand Finale event.
The vast multitudes of dashing motorists are restless, and eager, and looking great. I climb aboard my Honda again, giving a nod and a kiss to my lovely pillion passenger, Emily. Proudly leading the mob out of the Seaport to get us pointed onto the streets of NYC, I slow to a stop to let things assemble behind me. I use this moment to take it all in.
The planning, the worrying, the snags and the troubleshooting are over. What happens now is up to the riders, to the streets of this great city, and to fate. Leaning into the mirror to make a final adjustment to my necktie, I catch a glimpse of a smile I can’t seem to contain. Finally, it’s time. The Gentleman’s Ride is ready to take on New York.
I twist the throttle.
The Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride, founded in 2012 in Sydney, Australia, is partnered with the Movember Foundation to raise money and awareness for men’s health including prostate cancer and suicide prevention and is sponsored internationally by Triumph Motorcycles and Zenith Watches. The 2016 NYC ride was graciously supported by the Howard Hughes Corporation, the Seaport District, Union Garage, Ducati-Triumph NYC, Proraso USA and proudly hosted by Allister Klingensmith, Chris Lesser, Dave Genat and Michael Higgins, with help from countless volunteers. Thank you to them all.