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The Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride

(22 May 2022)


The DGR is a fund-raising campaign that started back in 2012 in the land down under. Over the last 10 years it has grown to 802 cities, across 104 countries, with 93,456 riders.

In total for 2022, the gentle folk globally raised over R100 MILLION!

All donations are used for prostate cancer research and male mental health programs.

Mark Hawwa started the DGR when he saw a photo of Don Draper (of the Mad Men TV show) on a classic bike, wearing a suit. He decided to create a ‘dapper’ event where riders attend on old, classic motorcycles and dress like old school gents.

But what is the definition of ‘old’? When does it start? Do we measure it in time, in age, or in wisdom? Is it something to be scared of, or something we anxiously await?

I don’t ever remember being afraid of ‘oldness’.

There are definitely things I miss about being younger – the energy, the excitement about tomorrow, the quick thinking, the quick moves, and the quick healing. But now these things feel pretty inconsequential.

I’ve realized I do not need to prove myself - the universe really does not care... I do not strive for riches or worldly possessions. I have friends, but a few. Though, they are true friends and worth all their quirks and oddities. I have knowledge, even though I don’t always know what to do with it.

I miss friends who have died, but then, I’m glad that time gave them to me, to befriend, even for a while, and that I was alive to know them.

I might be a bit too melancholy in my years. And I know the life at 46 is not the same as the one at 96.

I wish the time hadn’t gone so fast, though. And sometimes I wish I’d enjoyed it more on the way, and worried about it less.

I might be growing older, and soon will be old. I therefore must consider my affairs. I might not remember dates, but I must remember patience. I should endure when others complain, while at the same time I must endure my own aches and pains. In the end I will need a few friends.

I hope to grow old reasonably gentle. Not to the point of sainthood though; the stories I can recall will always be too uncouth.

Getting older, you lose a lot. But you never lose the ages you’ve already been.

Alexis Basson

BMW K75 Ultima (1998)

(Skinny rode the bike at this year’s DGR)

Alexis bought the bike second hand from a friend in 2021 with 25,000kms on the ODO. The original owner had eight other motorcycles.

This bike stood in a garage for four years without being ridden. Alexis got it running again. He gave it a service and replaced the petrol pump and the fuel filter. The back brakes got a new slave cylinder and a new battery was dropped in. It took him two full days to clean the gunk and grime out of the tank.

The bike belonged to Ian Melass, the father of an old school friend. They used to travel all over South Africa. But Alexis only does short trips to Cullinan and Hekpoort these days.

He once got invited to a friend’s house for dinner and because this friend didn’t have parking for a car, they decided to take the Ultima. It was slightly overcast, but there were still patches of clear sky peeping through. Five minutes before they reached their end destination the heavens ripped open. They had to borrow dry clothes… that didn’t fit too well.

Alexis confirmed that he is an exceptionally skilled crasher, and he has very poor judgement on the weather.

If he could compete in any Olympic event, it would be anything that does not require co-ordination, technique or fitness…

Shaun Habib

Vespa LML P150x (2010)

(Chikita rode the bike at this year’s DGR)

Shaun bought the bike from a Pretoria school teacher for only R7,500-00.

Fish (Louis Koshiaris) works on the scooter and keeps it lekker. The only good thing Shaun can do with the bike is keep it on two wheels; and change the vinyl decals every 2 minutes.

This little monster has made it all the way up Sani pass (South Africa’s highest pass) AND… it was the first scooter that day to make it to the top.

If he could compete in any Olympic event, he would win the event for the most ‘loop dops’ before actually leaving the jol to go home. And then still have ‘just one more’!

Yiull Damaso

Vespa PX200 fondly known as the Disco Ball

Yiull bought the bike from Vespa 21 years ago and customized it himself. It probably helped that he is a well-known artist…

He doesn’t work on the bike itself but leaves all the greasy work for Tony from Moovers SpeedShop.

Yiull has ridden the Disco Ball solo all the way down to Cape Town, and he has done trips to Swaziland and Mozambique. It’s a travelling dance hall!

He thinks he can ride a scooter better than most, considering that the glass alone weighs 30kg. Though, he hasn’t wheelied it… yet.

If he could compete in any Olympic event, he would definitely go for snowboarding!

Lawrence Houghton

Moto Guzzi MK1 Lemans (1977)

Lawrence bought the bike second hand and maintains it himself.

He considers himself a master rider of old motorcycles.

If he could compete in any Olympic event, he would probably win a medal at anything skuts (shooting)!

Mike Venables

BSA B31 (1955)

Mike purchased the bike a few years ago from a collector.

He got the bike running and maintains its running condition.

It has less than 1 000 miles on the ODO and is still in original dress.

He thinks he can ride bloomin’ fast, and he can pop a few short wheelies.

If he could compete in any Olympic event, he would try his lungs at the 1,500m middle distance!

Charley Cooper

A faithful Triumph Bonneville

Charley maintains his bike(s) himself, though he normally left the shims to Nick at Traditional Triumph. With Nick now all the way over in Canada, let’s hope the shims outlasts Charley.

Back in the days, Charley was known as a Guzzi man. When he went for a test ride on the Bonneville, nobody took him seriously. He offered to buy the bike, but the shop laughed and kept the bike as a demo. Charley kept nagging them until they finally seceded and sold him the bike.

If anyone has ever read a Charley’s Chat, or watched any of his TV shows, you will know that Charley is best at telling tall stories.

However, if he could compete in any Olympic event, he would nail the slow races!

Mike Sankey

Ural (2014) – Medusa

Mike works on his own bike(s).

This sidecar, and a few others have been all the way up to the Angola border. The further north they went, the more dust they encountered. They recently went on a Karoo trip with the bikes draped in Ukrainian flags. See what they did there?!?

The board on the front mudguard is known as a ‘pedestrian slicer’. The name of the bike would be written in English on the one side of the slicer, and in Russian on the other side.

Mike can ‘fly’ the car, meaning he can flip the sidecar up onto the bike’s two wheels.

If he could compete in any Olympic event, he would give his all at the Marathon!


Tweeds were pressed for the yearly DGR. In support of men's health, we donned an extra layer of red-lippy. Smoke bellowed from those little 2-stroke hearts - we all need a check-up from time to time!

Video produced by Jolandi Mentz (22 May 2022)


Did you know…?

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Not going gentle into that good night!


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