There on the street, milling around what amounted to an ad hoc motorcycle show, was an incongruous mix of men and women dressed in formalwear ranging from tweed to tuxedos.
Kind of hard to stay mad at someone who’s wearing a bowtie.
And that’s the trick with the Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride. Although it’s honestly a pretty crappy traffic-clogged parade loop, made all the more slow by sheer size of the gaggle, everyone’s effectively in costume, and even those who dislike group rides find themselves smiling as the pack rolls around through New York City to the dropped jaws of pedestrian onlookers.
Also it seemed increasingly evident this year that the name of the event is a fundamental misnomer. There were plenty of distinguished ladies in attendance, both as riders and as camera carrying passengers. In fact there were enough women in attendance we feel they merit their very own slideshow.
— Ladies First: Meet the Women of the DGR —
Overall last weekend’s ride saw roughly double the turnout as last year’s event, with an estimated 450 riders coming out for the parade.
That’s about 100 more than were registered, meaning there were plenty of charitable-donation-dodgers in the mix, too. But still, the New York ride raised nearly $80k (4th world-wide) for the cancer research charity. Not bad considering there were more than 400 participating cities this year, drawing an estimated 37,000 riders globally.
The NYC event was a general success, with a few hiccups one would expect from trying to herd 400-plus motorcyclists in a city like New York.
First, there was some initial confusion beforehand about who was and wasn’t allowed to participate. For the record, the organizers call for owners of only “classic styled bikes” to join in. We encouraged more of a melting-pot approach, and welcomed anyone who was willing to register for the charity ride, raise funds, and show up in a suit on a Sunday morning. Minus one guy in a hooded sweatshirt on a Harley, everyone else seemed to fit in.
Next, there was the traffic, which even for New York City was extra special this particular Sunday.
An early-morning 5K road race in Red Hook shut down local streets and nearly kept us from getting back to the shop in time with promised 9AM coffee, which was graciously provided by Stumptown Roasters.
A street fair forced our 100-rider pack into a circuitous route through DUMBO to find the entrance to the Brooklyn Bridge and then over to the South Street Seaport, which donated use of its cobblestone plaza for the ride’s official start/end point.
And even though we’d just dodged the gridlock caused by the Pope’s visit the day before, Obama had decided to come to town for the UN, so we had even more road closures to deal with. Cue 400-plus riders filtering through West Side Highway traffic and eventually congregating on the steps of Lincoln Center.
For better or worse, this sort of chaos is routine for most traffic-numb NYC riders. Anyone else might have lost their mind. Or at least a mirror, while cutting through traffic.
By the time we got to Lincoln Center a few flummoxed NYPD officers showed up to attempt some crowd control, and to find out why there were 400 motorcycles taking over the block. After some head-scratching and an obligatory group photo most riders eventually made it to the next stop in Washington Square Park before a final re-group back at the South Street Seaport, with its welcoming VIP motorcycle parking and food vendors.
— 400 Cities, 37,000 Riders, 8 Billion Instagram posts —
Photographer Ryan Handt got some good shots, too
As long as the weather holds next year, the traffic can’t possibly be worse so next year’s ride promises to be even bigger and better.
*To any Union Street neighbors reading this: Sorry! Seriously we didn’t’ expect this sort of turnout. Next time we’ll warn you.
**All photos by Ryan Handt unless otherwise noted. All rights reserved. ©UnionGarageNYC