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  • Writer's pictureMark Lewis

The Ride For a Cause

A friend of mine, Peter, recently asked me to donate to a worthy cause he was undertaking. He rides a motorcycle and was participating in the annual Distinguished Gentleman's Ride (DGR) in New York City. Per the official DGR site, "the DGR was founded in Sydney, Australia by Mark Hawwa. It was inspired by a photo of Mad Men’s Don Draper astride a classic bike and wearing his finest suit. Mark decided a themed ride would be a great way to combat the often-negative stereotype of men on motorcycles, whilst connecting niche motorcycle communities together". The ride first started in 2012 and brought together over 2,500 riders across 64 cities. In 2018 over 113,000 riders registered in over 650 cities worldwide with a goal to raise $6 million.

The purpose of this annual ride has evolved since inception and its main goals now are to provide funding for men who suffer mental illness in addition to prostate cancer research. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, "mental illnesses are common in the United States. Nearly one in five U.S. adults lives with a mental illness (44.7 million in 2016). Mental illnesses include many different conditions that vary in degree of severity, ranging from mild to moderate to severe."

After reading up on the DGR, it became clear that it would be a really cool event to photograph. Many of the riders participating in this ride belong to local motorcycle clubs. Peter is a member of The New York Classic Riders. The New York Classic Riders group was founded by Dominique Dutronc, a French native passionate about motorcycles, who relocated to NYC in 2012. Dominique is an amateur photographer himself and several members from his group would be riding in the 2018 DGR in NYC. After getting confirmation from Peter that it would be ok to photograph the New York Classic Riders, I decided to meet up with them and take some candid shots and then proceed to the larger DGR.

When I left my house that morning it was still dark outside and I was the first one at the meeting location, La Colombe Coffee. Everyone needs their coffee in the morning, including dapper motorcycle riders!

The New York Classic Riders

Once the New York Classic Riders pulled off, the next stop was the South Street Seaport, the start of the DGR.

The Distinguished Gentleman's Ride

Hundreds if not a thousand or so riders parked their bikes at the seaport. The next few photos I got walking around.

NYC's finest was present as well. Once the ride got started they provided crowd control.

This was a great event to photograph. I'll definitely donate again next year and hope to photograph the event as well. I'll end with one last photo of a guy I shot whose bike had broken down before the start of the ride. All of the other riders had just left. He had thrown in the towel as his bike wouldn't start but two passersby came by and gave him a push to jump start his bike. It worked! He got his bike started and hopefully caught up with all of the other riders that day.


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