With fundraising due to close on Sunday June 6th, The Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride – Wollongong has passed the incredible milestone of $150,000! Meanwhile, it has been in a tight contest with London for 2nd position out of over 700 cities worldwide.
Participants Phill Critcher and Ermond Morelli are on track to come 2nd and 3rd globally out of over 65,000 riders, while their team – The FC’s – is also ranking 3rd. Since City Coast Motorcycles introduced the ride to Wollongong in 2017, almost $350K has been raised to support Movember. This is an outstanding achievement and we could not be prouder of our riding community who have wholeheartedly embraced this niche event for classic and vintage motorcycles.
Below are some images we captured on the day – click on the thumbnail to open the gallery. We are happy for you to share them on social media; please give ride hosts City Coast Motorcycles a nod if you do so.
The Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride (DGR) have partnered with Movember for a new community program aimed at better connecting male motorcyclists. We chat with Mark Hawwa – the Founder of DGR, Throttle Roll and Ride Sunday – about this special initiative.
I had just come back from a trip to Japan and fell in love with their mix of a classic and custom motorcycling scene. When I got back, I was determined to get a bike that could bring that style back here to Australia, but none of my mates rode that kind of bike, so I started the Sydney Cafe Racers. As the custom style caught on, I started seeing people from around the world get into these groups and we connected over a joint love of custom motorcycles. Then the idea for DGR hit me when I saw a poster of Mad Men’s Don Draper sitting on a Matchless motorcycle in his beautifully tailored suit and thought it was a really interesting way to show a motorcyclist. At the time in Australia, we had a lot of issues with public perception of “bikies”, so it motivated me to spread the word throughout these groups and get everyone riding on the same day on their classic and vintage style bikes to dress dapper and ride together to break down that negative stereotype. That was 3,000 riders in 64 cities, and now we’re connecting 116,000 riders in 678 cities, so quite a lot has changed!
DGR has a special relationship with its global charity partner the Movember Foundation. How did the idea of the DGR Social Connections Challenge come about?
The relationship with Movember formed in 2016. We were working with various Prostate Cancer Foundations around the world to localise people’s donations and provide them with tax deductibility, but it was a tough job. We connected with Movember and everything just moved forward naturally. We have really similar goals in how to provide support for men and are actively funding a wide range of prostate cancer research and mental health programs to connect men in motorcycling.
The DGR Social Connections Challenge came about with us knowing how dedicated our community through DGR was in fundraising and in changing the way men communicate, so we thought it was finally time to help bring specific programs targeted at all riders to make a difference to them directly. This program isn’t just for people in DGR, but for every single male motorcyclist. We’ve never done anything like this before and Movember was really excited to build out a program that helps us better connect with riders as a part of their “going to where men are” approach to mental health. It really is a world-first and we’re honoured to be able to bring this to the global riding community.
What countries are involved?
Currently, we are accepting pilot programs in Australia, New Zealand, USA, UK, and Canada as these are the areas that we can directly offer funding and support. Once the pilot programs go through the Challenge, there is definitely an opportunity for them to scale further and operate in more areas.
Are the grants open to groups as well as individuals?
Absolutely anyone is welcome to submit an application. Groups or individuals. We’d also recommend you have a mate or two helping out as this is potentially a 15-month program if you get through to Phase 2, so having a bit of friendly support wouldn’t be a bad idea.
How will the Challenge be carried out?
The Challenge will be carried out in two key phases at this stage. It’ll be broken down as Phase 1.1, Phase 1.2, Phase 2, and Phase 3. A maximum of 25 grants valued at up to AUD $7,500 will be awarded internationally under Phase 1 of this opportunity.
Step 1 asks applicants to submit an Inspiration Statement. The applicants with the most creative and innovative ideas will be invited to pitch their idea. Successful pitches will be considered upon receipt of a signed, short-form Movember funding agreement which will lead them into Step 2.
In Step 2, development funds will be provided to assist in research, engage with the targeted group, design and create an initiative plan over a 9-week period that has the potential to be piloted. This is the core period where we can really give attention to people’s ideas and see if they can work.
From here, the best candidates will be invited into Phase 2, where we really get into the nitty-gritty of the program. A maximum of ten pilot project grants valued at up to AUD $75,000 will be awarded internationally under Phase 2 to carry out implementation of pilot project plans over a 12-month period. This is where programs will really scale up and take serious shape to test out the ideas and try to bring riders together in the process.
Continued investment may be forthcoming in Phase 3 for those projects that show the greatest promise for ‘scaling up’ at the end of the pilot period. This is an extended piloting phase, so the continuation is really dependant after Phase 2.
The great thing about this is event programs that are not invited into Phase 3 will be in a position to keep working at their ideas. The support that we’re looking to provide over the course of the next 15 months will give our applicants a huge level of insight into how they can scale and succeed their ideas.
How will the grant applications be judged – what are you looking for?
We definitely have a few things we’re looking out for in this. If the name is any indicator to you, we’re looking for ideas that help connect riders socially, outside of the DGR community. This is a really wide-net to men in motorcycling, so it should be something that connects all men, and especially, those guys that may be a little harder to reach when it comes to connecting. With the focus on connections, we are also looking at programs that strength peer-to-peer support and can allow us to provide positive role models and mentors to all riders, and improve everyone’s knowledge about mental health and suicide prevention.
What’s involved in submitting an idea?
All you need to do to get this off the ground is register online HERE and submit an Inspiration Statement by July 6th. From there, you may get invited into Phase 1.1 to pitch your concept with a few other pieces. You can find a more detailed breakdown of this at www.gentlemansride.com/blog/dgr-scc
How soon will the funds be allocated?
Funding will be provided within the Phase stages by Movember, so successful applicants will be able to allocate those funds to areas that will help them succeed best. The great thing here is Movember will be with them all the way to help identify where these funds might be best placed.
Is this something DGR and Movember plan to do on an annual basis?
Who knows?! This is a first-time for us, so once we get through it, we’ll absolutely be reviewing and seeing just how successful the concept is. In some way, I’d like to though. It’s really important that we’re funding programs where our riders need it most, so this will absolutely be a test of that.
Given that the Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride is a global event, what changes can we expect for 2020 with varying COVID-19 social restrictions worldwide?
Worldwide, we’re looking at a Solo Event for 2020, which will eliminate mass events and have riders taking to the streets on their own to raise funds for the event. It’s a tough one, because some are able to hit the road in groups or alone, and others may not be allowed to ride at all, so we need to find a way to engage everyone. To achieve this, riders around the world will be encouraged to dapper up and either hop on their bikes if they’re able to, or to snap a shot of themselves with their classic and vintage styled motorcycle and join us online. The focus for this year will be to connect riders from all around the world, despite their COVID-19 social distancing restrictions. We want riders to know that we may be socially distanced, but we can still be connected digitally.
We not only need to take people’s local lockdown restrictions into consideration, but we also needed to consider how riders and hosts have been financially affected in losing jobs and security, and how this may have impacted their lives. It’s a three-degrees of separation thing, some hosts either had COVID-19, or knew someone who did, and even have family members who lost their lives because of it. We wanted to be sensitive to those who spend countless hours volunteering to run their ride, who may not be able to get involved. The main thing we’d want people to be aware of here is that we know that some areas of the world might be opened up by the time DGR hits in 2020, but DGR isn’t only a local event – it’s a global movement – and when we have so many folks who are integral in running their rides who have been heavily impacted by this, we need to look out for them and each other.
Connect with the Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride on Facebook Connect with Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride on Instagram Connect with Movember Australia on Facebook Connect with Movember on Instagram
City Coast Motorcycles proudly presented Wollongong’s third Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride. This worldwide phenomenon is for vintage and classic styled motorcycles and supports The Movember Foundation.
Our local ride feature’s Australia’s top fundraisers and in 2019 it has already raised $93,000 for men’s health… and counting! Fundraising continues throughout October. If you wish to sponsor our ride or a participant please click HERE.
Below are some images we captured on the day – click on the thumbnail to open the gallery. We are happy for you to share them on social media; please give City Coast Motorcycles a nod if you do so.
The Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride was founded in 2012 by Mark Hawwa in Sydney and has since become a worldwide phenomenon. It was introduced to Wollongong by Jane and the team at City Coast Motorcycles in 2017.
Dealer Principal Timothy Sim says it is special to watch how the The Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride brings vintage and classic motorcyclists together to help people in need. Enthusiasm for the Illawarra event has grown rapidly; in 2018 Wollongong ranked 20th in the world out of 648 rides.
“Every year it just keeps getting better and better,” Timothy said.
Organiser Jane Sim describes The Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride as emotional on many levels:
“On the surface it is a colourful spectacle with people dressed in their finery and showing off their beautiful bikes. On the next level there is the comradery, with friendships formed and new memories made. But at the heart of it all we’re riding for a very serious reason: Over one million men are losing their lives annually to suicide and prostate cancer. This touches us all. We are riding for awareness of these causes and to help Movember to help more men.”
Movember Community Ambassador Mark Kelly struggled with mental health in his early twenties. He didn’t have any strategies in place to handle his depression. After seeking help from his GP and getting a mental health plan, he hasn’t looked back.
“Knowing that there were others out there like me who did not have the tools to deal with mental health issues, I found Movember as a fun way to help spread awareness and use my story as a motivator for others to seek help,” Mark said.
“The DGR is an excellent event as it helps to keep the message of Movember going year-round. It is an event that promotes friendship, enjoyment and catches the eye of the public in a unique way,” he said.
Jane acknowledges the Wollongong event would not be possible without the support of local sponsors and clubs.
“We are so fortunate to have the region’s businesses backing our event; Clutch Moto, Coal Coast Emporium and Towradgi Beach Hotel have all supplied prizes to give further incentive to participants. Official photographers, Keogh’s Vision Photography donates 50% of their revenue from images purchased on the day and Sarah’s Coffee Van also shares a portion of her takings. We are also indebted to the Illawarra Classic Motorcycle Club who contribute a sizeable donation every year.
Preparation for The Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride begins months in advance, working with Wollongong City Council and the Wollongong Local Area Command. A lot of thought goes in to planning a route suitable for vintage motorcycles and sidecars requiring slower roads.
“There is a lot to take into consideration when organising the Ride. Not-to-forget our region’s divine scenery – we really are spoiled in the Illawarra! I think you would be hard-pressed to find anything like it anywhere else in the world,” Jane said.
The Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride – Wollongong has more than tripled its inaugural total. Fundraising closed on October 31 and the official figure raised is $65,215, compared to $20,568 in 2017.
On September 30, scores of dapper ladies and gents donned their finest attire aboard classic and vintage motorcycles. The annual event raises funds to support research into prostate cancer, and mental health and suicide prevention programs via the Movember Foundation.
Organiser Jane Sim from City Coast Motorcycles says the result is testament to the way the motorcycling community will band together for an important cause.
“In the Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride, we ride with a purpose. We want to help stop men dying too young.
“We had 227 registrations. 648 rides were held around the world and Wollongong ranked in the top 20.
“Caps off to participant Phill Critcher who raised over $12,300 and placed 15th globally,” said Jane.
The Wollongong ride also places the Illawarra on the map as a fantastic motorcycling destination.
“It’s not hard to find beautiful scenery, but I also try to come up with a new route every year so that the participants have a different experience each time.
“It delivers the ride to new spectators and spreads the message, further. We were honoured to feature in the global wrap-up video once again,” said Jane.
City Coast Motorcycles would like to thank the following individuals, community groups and businesses that assisted with planning, sponsorship and publicity:
Merlin Bike Gear
Coal Coast Emporium
Towradgi Beach Hotel
Illawarra Café Racers
Illawarra Classic Motorcycle Club
Wollongong City Council
Wollongong Local Area Command
The Illawarra Mercury
96.5 Wave FM
Coal Coast Magazine
Keogh’s Vision Photography
Sarah’s Coffee Van Aaron Huisman
Our heart-felt thanks to every rider, volunteer and sponsor for making our second Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride unforgettable. Together we have forged new friendships, raised awareness for men’s health and more than tripled last year’s fundraising for prostate cancer and male suicide prevention. And a fine way to do it, too.
The Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride – Wollongong hosted by City Coast Motorcycles will return on Sunday the 30th of September. Scores of dapper ladies and gents will don their finest attire and pack their manners aboard classic and vintage motorcycles.
The annual event is part of a global sensation, shining the spotlight on men’s health in over 650 cities across 95 countries on the same day. With close to one million men losing their lives annually from suicide and prostate cancer, riders raise funds and awareness on behalf of the official charity partner, The Movember Foundation.
The Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride was founded in Sydney 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. His brainchild has already raised over $13M USD for men’s health.
Wollongong is preparing for its second year. In 2017 there were 172 registrations and $20,568 was raised. Ride organiser Jane Sim from City Coast Motorcycles is confident participants will be able to double that amount on September 30.
“I could not have been prouder of our inaugural event last year. The riding community embraced the event whole-heartedly. The smiles were broad, the bikes were brilliant and I was really affected by the comradery.
“It was wonderful to see new friendships formed in the name of charity. We had under-estimated the numbers and ended up having to cap the registrations!
“I have worked closely with Wollongong City Council and the Wollongong LAC and secured larger venues to accommodate more dapper riders and their steeds,” Jane said.
In keeping with the classic lines of Don Draper’s 1957 Matchless G3LS, The Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride is a niche charity event with gentlefolk riding their Cafe’ Racer, Bobber, Classic, Tracker, Scrambler, Old School Chopper, Modern Classic, Sidecar, Classic Scooter and Brat styled motorcycles. Participants spend months perfecting the look of both their bikes and their costumes.
If you ride a vintage or classic styled motorcycle and wish to participate or would like to make a donation to the Wollongong Ride please register via this link:
Fundraising rewards include motorcycles and luxury watches from major partners Triumph Motorcycles and Zenith Watches. Wollongong’s top fundraisers will receive prizes thanks to Towradgi Beach Hotel and Coal Coast Emporium.
My first ride was probably on a postie or dirt bike on the farm up in the Highlands where we were raised. We were always around bikes as kids, one of my earliest memories is sitting on top of Dad’s BSA, polishing as far as my arms would reach while he’d be working on it. Dad loves classic racers; he’s owned Triumphs, BSAs, Nortons, Matchless and Ducatis. Pop and my brother have always had motorbikes too. Their love for life on two wheels has definitely influenced my own.
What was your first motorcycle and where did you ride it?
I picked up my first road bike on Valentine’s Day, a red Ducati Monster 659 named Valentino. I’d only been living in the Illawarra a little while, and my Duc took me up and down the coast as I learnt to ride. There were lots of National Park runs, rides up Keira, down Kembla, to Berry or further south and up to Bald Hill.
What wheels do you have now?
I’m currently riding a very charming 2013 Triumph Thruxton 900 named Knox. I went in to pick up a helmet and had the guys at City Coast Motorcycles hand me the keys and tell me to take it for a spin. It was love at first braap, and has been ever since.
What has been your most memorable motorcycling experience to date?
For me every ride is a memorable experience, there’s a really strong and encouraging motorcycling community in the Illawarra and I often ride with my motofam, the Illawarra Café Racers or The Litas Wollongong. We’re blessed with so many beautiful coastal roads here. The Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride last year though was superb, really well organized and for such a great cause. I’m excited for this year’s one. In partnership with City Coast Motorcycles and The North Wollongong Hotel, The Litas held a Santa Pub Crawl Charity Ride. It was fun riding across the Sea Cliff bridge in Santa suits and raising money for a local cause. We’re really grateful to be supported by local businesses.
Motorbikes have been like ‘a rock’ to you. Can you share with us how they have helped you?
I remember dad saying that you don’t see motorcycles out the front of psychologist’s offices, and you know I think he was onto something. I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression just before I bought my first bike and I found that riding really helped me to be mindful, to spend time close to Mother Earth and to be around good people. It’s amazing the type of healing a bike can provide. If ever I’m stuck a ride on my bike really contextualizes things for me. I always return with a heart full of gratitude.
How did the idea for The Incredible Freedom Machines come about?
The Incredible Freedom Machines tells the story of a little girl and her adventures with her Freedom Machine. For me, this book is a metaphor for my own adventures on Valentino. The day that I wrote it, I’d been riding through the National Park, and along the coast before arriving in Keiraville for a cup of tea. I wrote the whole manuscript in one sitting, sent it to Matt Ottley, one of Australia’s best illustrators with the email subject: ‘Be my Illustrator?’ and was absolutely flawed when he sent it to my now editor at Scholastic.
What age group isThe Incredible Freedom Machines pitched at?
This book could be read to Preschoolers or analyzed for literary studies in High School, though the primary teacher in me sees it being loved dearly by Primary students. The illustrations (which I can take no credit for) are the most divine creations, I couldn’t have dreamt them better.
This book is getting excellent early reviews. What do you have planned next?
Thank you! It’s really exciting seeing it hitting shelves. The Incredible Freedom Machines has been selected for presentation at the largest Children’s book fair in the world, Bologna Book Fair (May 2018). It’ll be pitched there to hopefully be published in other languages.
It’s also being presented as a part of The Sound of Picture Books in Fremantle, where an accompanying orchestral piece will be played by the Perth Symphony Orchestra as Matt Ottley (The Illustrator) draws and I narrate for school audiences. I’ll be Writer In Residence at Bundanon Trust in August for Book Week, sharing The Incredible Freedom Machines with local schools.
My second book, Our Dreaming is being illustrated at the moment by Dub Leffler and will be out in June 2019. I’ve also got two more manuscripts under consideration with Scholastic at the moment and have been working on a poetry collection as well titled Mother, Earth Child, Lover.
Can you tell us about your work at Red Room Poetry?
Red Room Poetry is a NFP that aims to make poetry a meaningful part of everyday life. I manage Red Room’s Poetic Learning programs, connecting contemporary poets with 450+ education communities across Australia & New Zealand. I am also the First Nations Cultural Liaison at Red Room. I’ve developed a program titled, “Poetry in First Languages” that sees First Nations poets create and publish poems in First Languages with Elders and Custodians while also supporting students on country to do the same. As a proud Gunai woman with ties to lots of east coast nations, seeing First Nations students use language to express themselves creatively is really powerful. This year we’re leading workshops on Gundungurra, Dharawal, Gadigal, Bundjalung and Yuin Nations with local communities.
You are a co-founder of the Litas Wollongong branch which is part of a worldwide, all-female, social riding collective. How is it going?
The Litas are a group of phenomenal women riding and thriving all around the world, I feel really honored to be a part of the crew and even more so to have helped start a movement in Wollongong with Sari Lokollo and Jessica Knight (the other Co-Founders). I’ve been so flat out of late that I haven’t had a chance to get along to many of the rides, but there’s always ride outs, camp outs and wrench nights happening. I encourage all female motorcycle riders of all skill levels in the Illawarra and surrounds to get involved.
Do you have any advice for women getting involved in riding?
My advice is to absolutely do it. Buy the bike, buy the leathers and start your adventures. Riding motorcycles has helped me develop confidence and independence in ways I couldn’t have imagined.
I’d suggest researching widely and finding a bike suited to your style, build and ability. Getting some quality, well-fitting protective gear is also paramount. My other advice would be to join The Litas or another club of riders, or ride with some more experiences friends, follow their lines and take their tips on board. Like all new ventures, you must do it often in all conditions and practice practice, practice.
We think the Illawarra boasts some of the best moto daytrips in Australia. Do you have a favourite?
There’s so many great rides around the Illawarra. I do love a cheeky braaap to Bald Hill and back; I think this one is best during the week or even in the evening when the road is a little quieter. I also love extending that ride into the National Park.
Riding up Mount Keira and down Kembla with lunch at the pub is always a good time. Heading out the back of Jamberoo, finishing in Kiama or heading to Berry is delightful too. You can’t go wrong with a ride up the Macquarie Pass up into the Highlands either.
Overall though, I love cutting along the Upper Kangaroo Valley River, to the suspension bridge. That spot is all kinds of magic.
Kirli Saunders’ The Incredible Freedom Machines from Scholastic Australia is available at all good book stores.
Counting down our Top Ten favourite moments of 2017. City Coast Motorcycles has had an exciting year, keeping active at the heart of the motorcycling community. We’ve staged events – large and small – many for charity – and we’re proud of them all! Follow us in 2018 – the best is yet to come…
On Sunday September 24, scores of dapper ladies and gents packed their manners aboard classic and vintage motorcycles and rode for the Movember Foundation.
What a sight to behold and what an achievement! 172 registrations, magnificent machines and new friendships formed.
The Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride was founded in 2012 by Mark Hawwa in Sydney. The charity event, raises much needed funds for prostate cancer research and male suicide prevention.
For the first time, Wollongong rode in unison with 600 cities across the globe. Participants took in a scenic route encompassing Flagstaff Hill before regrouping at beautiful Bulli Beach.
We are excited to announce Wollongong’s first Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride has raised $20,568 for men’s health. Our esteemed colleagues at Young Henrys kindly sponsored our local top fundraisers.
Congratulations to our winners:
HIGHEST FUNDRAISER: Jon Spark
2ND PLACE: Michael Jobson
3RD PLACE: Rob Veljanoski
We would also like to extend our gratitude to Lord Mayor Cr Gordon Bradbery and Wollongong City Council, Senior Constable Andrew Cotton and Wollongong LAC, Triumph Motorcycles Australia, 96.5 Wave FM, The Illawarra Mercury, North Wollongong Hotel, Young Henrys, John Keogh, Michael Jobson and all of our volunteers who helped Jane and the City Coast Motorcycles crew make the day possible.
And thanks to each and every rider for joining us in this remarkable event; we can’t wait to dress dapper and do it all again in 2018!