DISTINGUISHED GENTLEMEN... AND LADIES TOO
THE WORLDWIDE RIDE FOR PROSTATE CANCER
Two of my closest friends are victims of prostate cancer. The first was diagnosed early, had successful surgery, and is still riding and enjoying his motorcycles. The second was diagnosed recently and the cancer is more advanced. He's now recovering from the first round of chemotherapy.
Reported incidents of prostate cancer have risen markedly in this country since the 1970s. There were 47,300 new cases reported in 2013, the last full year statistics are available for.
This is the context for the annual Distinguished Gentlemen's Ride. Now a global phenomenon, this motorcycle event began in Sydney just four years ago. It was inaugurated by Mark Hawwa to raise money for prostate cancer and awareness of men's health and wellbeing. A subject many of us have a tendency to push to one side.
410 cities worldwide took part in this year's event, which was on Sunday 25th. And the UK has taken the event to heart, with rides in many major towns and cities. I could have picked almost anywhere. But I'd received an email about the Coventry DGR from Triumph, who is a global sponsor.
It would start in front of the Triumph factory in Hinckley, Leicestershire. Which seemed like a good place to head for. I arrived at around 9am. Dapper men and women were already there - bikes parked up - enjoying Triumph's hospitality. A table was laden with pastries and other sweet goodies along with limitless tea and coffee.
More people came, and as the riding time drew nearer I counted about 50 bikes. Then some more. And then a gaggle of ten or so 'mods' on well-tuned-out scooters. Dressed in clothing which captured both the spirit of the era and the day.
Getting on for 70 machines altogether. A good turn out of Triumphs, understandably, and Harleys too. A couple of cafe racer Tritons. A nice Laverda Jota in stand-out orange. A customised Honda CX500. A Ural sidecar outfit that demonstrated its reverse gear prowess when the ride departed. It was also good to see a few smaller capacity bikes with L plates.
The first Coventry ride happened last year with just 12 bikes taking part. And Dee Thorne is the guy to thank - he's seen this ride go from small beginnings to an impressive parade. I listened as he explained the route and the gathering in Coventry town centre at the end.
Dee's grandad was diagnosed with prostate cancer. He's now cancer free and enjoying life, but it motivated Dee to launch this DGR. And after explaining the route, he spoke about the cause. How we should and could undergo simple routine health tests to know if we are clear or need early intervention.
The other important message Dee spoke about was male suicides. An aspect of (preventable) men's health which the DGR has begun focusing on internationally. Mental health is a delicate area for us all, but it is becoming a more open subject.
There were 6,233 suicides registered in the UK in 2013. 19 suicides for every 100,000 men, which is the highest figure since 2001. Men aged 45-59 are the most vulnerable, registering 26.1 suicides per 100,000 men - the highest rate since 1981.
As the ride left, the clouds cleared and sunshine warmed the parade. I took a shortcut to Coventry to be there when the bikes arrived. The ride has splintered on the road and people arrived at the central square in batches. Each of them parking up in front of Triumph's exhibition stand, which was attracting curiosity from Sunday shoppers. Many pictures were taken and no doubt uploaded to social media accounts.
Keep on running DGR, and keep involving men and women in the health conversation. The global target for this year's fundraising is $5 million. The Coventry target is £5,000, and on Sunday they'd gone a good way towards achieving it.
You can still donate if you go to www.gentlemansride.com.
29/09/16 - What gets me is companies get on board but are unable to say it's for "prostate cancer" ... falling back to some weird PC term of "mens health" .... yet seem perfectly happy to say they support "breast cancer" .. .if it's treated like this no wonder guys are embarrassed to talk about it
30/09/16 - It started out just for Prostate, but now is for such things as mental health.
01/10/16 - It's for Prostate Cancer UK (in the UK) and The Movember Foundation UK funding suicide prevention programmes, all of which is completely upfront in the DGR publicity.
01/10/16 - I know what it's for I just noted that some companies seem embarrassed to say prostate
29/09/16 - I took part this year in Edinburgh - fantastic world wide effort
30/09/16 - I didn't as I had no bike to ride
30/09/16 - I did, on the Aberdeen ride.. I am stopping with my parents in Arbroath (I live in Warrington)and last minute invite from my uncle. I had to rush to get my 30 year old XT Tenere MOTed. Managed to do it the Friday before. He was aboard his faired Thruxton
30/09/16 - I joined the Nottingham ride.
30/09/16 - I didn't as a 1200 Bandit is "not a gentleman's bike". When I queried this on the official facebook page I was told 'cafe-racer it or borrow one'... Not impressed.
01/10/16 - I took part in the London ride on a Harley-Davidson XL1200CX Roadster.
01/10/16 - I did, the West Sussex one. Good people, beautiful bikes, excellent causes.
01/10/16 - A bit ironic as your told not to ride a bike when you have prostate problems, but a great cause to support.
01/10/16 - Certainly did https://www.gentlemansride.com/rider/guzzibrat
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