TG Newsletter: THE DISTINGUISHED GENTLEMAN'S RIDE
The Distinguished Gentleman's Ride
(25 September 2016)
Every year, on the last Sunday of September, tens of thousands of distinguished gentlefolk in hundreds of cities worldwide don their cravats, tweak their moustaches, press their tweed and sit astride their classic and vintage styled motorcycles to raise funds and awareness for prostate cancer research.
This was my third year attending this dapper event. And every year I stand more and more astounded at the number of suits that get rolled out. There must be a planet out there filled to the brim with plaids, double-breasts and pin stripes.
The rules of the event is to dress as stylish as your closet allows, dust your classic bike, and join the mass of gents (and gentiles) donning the streets of the city with class.
The event is free, but gentlemen are not that cheap. Most of these folks donated a few leaves of paper to the good cause for prostate cancer research. I even got a sponsor that topped-up my donation (thanks Mike!)
That first ride in 2012 brought together over 2 500 riders across 64 cities. Five years later in 2016, over 57 000 participants in 500 cities (91 countries) raised over $3.4 million (US)!
The DGR crowd is a different kind of rider. It is not your racers, your rallyist, or your daily commuters. These are sophisticated individuals that have spent hours and hours on their bikes, rebuilding them, renovating them, or just trying their best to get the wheels rolling in time for the event.
A gentleman makes eye contact!
Early on Sunday morning (25 September 2016) we all got together at News Café in Woodmead. The early morning sun blinded the visitors as it sparkled off the chrome filled parking lot. All the jackets were still buttoned up, ties still tied – it looked like an early morning NG kerk service in Klerksdorp. A few cups saw its bottoms up before we were ready to ride to destination 1.
Throughout the day, I did some short interviews with some of the bikers that graced me with a few minutes of their time.
(Ducati Scrambler 803 Icon - 2016)
MODIFICATIONS: The Scrambler doesn’t actually need any mods – it’s already BEVANGE! Though Andrew removed the 1kilogram worth of ‘docking-station’ with a neat tail-tidy. And he got lower, wider handlebars for better handling on track and at speed.
FUNNY STORY: Andrew was fearless at Walkerville Raceway with one of the most expensive bikes out on the track at the Stof Skop event.
PRICE: Understandably, Andrew will NEVER sell the bike. He’d rather expand on his collection with another scrambler like an XT (good taste!)
Andrew prefers ‘sunrise’ – guess that’s why he loves a yellow bike!
Meester Marnitz – the indomitable organizer of the party! The Bull Horn and caffeine clearly visible; the sambok for the underdressed patrons not so much…
A gentleman grooms, but not in public…
Marion ‘Vlooi’ Hart – she was the inspiration for my dress and make-up!
Gentlemen don’t stare.
(Triumph Street II - 2009)
MODIFICATIONS: Glenn got the bike from Triumph Edenvale without a seat, tank or front end. The engine was in 100% working condition. He used a Triumph Street III front-end with upside down forks to build it up.
STYLE: Café racer with number boards
TIME LINE OF PROJECT: 6 months (the bike is complete)
FUNNY STORY: The tank is already dented after he crash-tested the bike.
PRICE: R150 000-00
This gentleman drinks ice with his whiskey!
Gentlemen invest in great luggage.
As we started out engines, Marnitz stopped next to me and asked if I would help with the marshalling. What an honour!!!
I LOVED STOPPING TRAFFIC (pun intended)!
At one of the intersections, the cars backed-up quite far down the road and I expected the cagers to become a bit impatient. When the one driver got out of his vehicle and walked up to me, I got ready to perform a lady like ninja kick. But, all he wanted to know was what this was all about. When I told him it was for prostate cancer research he turned to the stream of motorcyclists pouring past and waved them along.
I did get one irritated driver attempting to sneak past my outside, when I spun around and gave a stern Missus Rottenmeier finger-wave in his direction. ABS was applied and he waited his turn. Oh… the power of the index finger!
Our first stop was at the Kensington Club – one of the oldest bowling clubs in Johannesburg. We stopped to drink a pint and blow a rack. It seemed like the neighbourhood joined in on the festivities, as the street outside was jam packed with people dresses in civvies, drooling over the bikes.
SADEKA MOHAMED aka SADIES
(Vespa - 1958)
MODIFICATIONS: Vespas don’t need modifications! According to Sadies, they are the best bikes, the fastest bikes, the kwaai-est bikes, that does the most tricks. If you scrub off all the paint (approximately 12kilos), the bike goes even faster. Editor’s note: Sadies must be scrubbing daily, as there’s not much paint left.
STYLE: Sticker-kit standard style
HISTORY: This second hand bike cost him a smile (with two dimples).
FUNNY STORY: Sadies attained his Vesparado club membership when he took a girl for a wheelie and they met mother earth.
PRICE: He’s never thought of selling this Vicious Vespa.
Sadies does not attend morning or evening service… He services as he goes – “…met ‘n spanner in my sak!”
A gentleman keeps a picture of his first fish, his first school day & his first motorcycle.
Gentlemen are always noticed. It is their signature to come, to make a statement, to leave and to be remembered.
A gentleman checks his lady’s helmet for spiders before he hands it over.
We left in convoy with shirts that started to pull free from the reigns of pants and suspenders.
We made a quick dash over the Nelson Mandela bridge in town and stopped for a group kiekie.
The test of a gentleman is his respect for those who can be of no possible service to him.
Gentlemen are mindful of what comes between him and the earth. He always buys good shoes, good sheets, and good tyres.
(BMW R90/6 - 1974)
MODIFICATIONS: This is Donovan’s personal bike that he rebuilt just before his dad passed away. When he collected it, it was just an engine and a frame. They did not restore the bike, as it was in a too degraded condition. They rebuilt it about 4 years ago (2013).
MECHANIC: Cytech Motorcycles (specializing in BMW motorcycles)
TIME LINE OF PROJECT: 6 months (the bike is complete)
INTERESTING STORY: A gentleman (nogals a gentleman, né) was immigrating and he contacted Donovan to let him know that he had a bike carcass lying underneath a tree in his yard. This must be one of those mystical trees that grow motorcycle-fruit. But be warned - you should pluk the fruit before they fall off!
PRICE: R150 000-00
Donovan has dreams about the end product before he starts building – WHAT SWEET DREAMS!
(BMW R100RS - 1977)
(Also a Cytech Motorcycles creation)
You can’t always be a hero, but you can always be a gentleman.
“Chivalry: It's the little boy that kisses my hand, the young man who holds the door open for me, and the old man who tips his hat to me. None of it is a reflection of me, but a reflection of them.”
*Donna Lynn Hope*
As we were riding through the streets of Jo’burg city centre, Nick Davidson exclaimed that he loved the chaos. I nodded and smiled as I thought, I loved the fact that everybody is OK with the chaos.
Next stop was the Mad Giant Brewery with its rusty sheds and industrial design. Craft beer was sold on tap, while I dug out an almost empty bottle of tequila at the back of the fridge.
Village People… the motorcycle version!
A gentleman appreciates beer – PERIOD!
“I’m such a gentleman that I hold every door open - even if the guy sitting in the bathroom stall is protesting.”
GIOVANNI ENZO DI BELLA
(Ducati SportClassic 1000S - 2007)
MODIFICATIONS: Giovanni actually changed the bike back to original form after he got it second hand with some modifications to it.
INTERESTING STORY: The previous owner didn’t really ride the bike and sold it with only 1 200km on the clocks. Giovanni has had the bike for 2 years now and has added 3 600kms.
PRICE: R400 000-00 but he probably won’t ever sell it.
They are starting a new Ducati owners club (MotoClub Ducati Johannesburg), where you can share your love for the finer things in life; Ducati’s and Glenmorangie!
Our last clock-in was at the Rim and Rubber restaurant in Greenside. This was the first time I could finally kick off those heals under a table. Marilyn Monroe once said that we should thank the man who invented heals, but I think he just wanted us to stand taller so that he didn’t have to look us in the ‘eyes’.
“We can’t be lovers because we both have moustaches. But since you’re a lady and I’m a gentleman, I’ll shave mine off.”
It is in very bad taste to speak of your money, your connections, and other resources… but your motorcycles are accepted topics.
(Triumph Bonneville T120 - 2016)
MODIFICATIONS: Monique was on a loan bike from Triumph SA. Her own bike is a 1981 Honda CB750, but she decided to rather use the loan bike for the DGR, as her own bike was a little temperamental that morning (it probably had periods). They left the bike at home with a hot water bottle, two Panado’s and a tub of ice-cream.
STYLE: Rat (the Honda)
FUNNY STORY: The story entails an angel, a bike and a chinaman’s finger. No wait… that’s a movie! The true story will stay safely hidden in my archives.
PRICE: R45 000-00
A gentleman laughs sincerely. So much so that he has to press his stomach to squeeze the last chuckles out.
A gentleman saves face… literally!
We must not forget that recovery is brought about NOT by the physician, the doctor or the proctologist, but by the sick man himself. He heals himself, by his own power. So men… be prepared, but most of all – be a strong squire with a will to live, with a zest for the adventure, and know the delight of riding a motorcycle.
HOW STUNNING WAS MY DRESS?
My mom, Marietta van Schalkwyk is the best seamstress I know. I showed her a picture of what I had in mind and within a few days my frock was sewn, stitched and seamed. DANKIE MOERTJIE!
HOW FUNKY WAS MY RIDE?
Ducati offered me the use of a Ducati Scrambler Flat Track Pro for the day. They even branded it with my name on the number boards (how do you return something with your name on it?!?). This kiev machine surprised me with its top-end. I didn’t expect a scrambler to run up to 180km/h with just a gentle twist of the throttle.
HOW BEAUTIFUL WAS MY KIEKIES?
I had three amazing photographers on standby for the day. They agreed that selfies would just not work for this newsletter... Thanks for capturing each moment, especially for risking your lives hanging out of the moving van – one foot holding the door open!
Jolandi Mentz (https://www.facebook.com/jolandi.mentz?fref=ts)
Deanne Matthee (https://www.facebook.com/deanne.matthee?fref=pb&hc_location=friends_tab)
Michael Daniel (https://www.facebook.com/michael.j.daniel1?fref=ts)
(Sorry, some I stole of FaceBook, e.g. Simon McDonnell)
Golly gosh! What a spiffing good day was had by all. Your royal contributions helped me in dressing the part as a mere lady that is usually covered in motorcycle leathers.
If you're familiar with the rural concept of the honesty bar, this honesty newsletter ain't much different... I'm a completely un-paid journalist, relying instead on readers using the honour system. You read the newsletter and then leave an amount you see fit for the entertainment you've received.
If you don't find it particularly amusing, then you fork out NO dosh. I won't stop sending you the letter – it is still mahala to those that count their coins and... I love sharing my stories.
As requested by my overseas readers, you can donate to this newsletter on my PayPal account:
You can do an EFT transfer to the account below.