If you happen to see hundreds of well-dressed gentlefolk riding around town on vintage and classic motorcycles this Sunday, don’t be alarmed. It’s not a dapper mustachioed biker gang from yesteryear on the loose — it’s for a good cause.
The core of the sixth annual Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride (DGR) is to raise awareness for often overlooked men’s health issues such as suicide prevention, mental health and prostate cancer.
The latter hits very close to home for longtime DGR rider Jason Hodrinsky, who’s been riding the past four years to honor his father, a prostate cancer survivor, and the many law clients he’s served over the past 10 years.
“I represent folks who have gotten cancers from asbestos and other environmental hazards,” he said. “My day-to-day interactions are with clients that are sick and dying from cancer or family members of folks who have already passed away. It’s important to not only support people that are going through that, but try to really fundraise in an effort so that others don’t have go through it.”
DGR partners with the Movember Foundation, which has grown from a few buddies trying to bring mustaches back one November to a global, year-round movement that’s since raised hundreds of millions for men’s health programs since 2003.
As of Thursday afternoon, DGR has 75,468 registered riders across the globe with nearly $3.4 million raised. Of that, 866 riders have raised $110,763 to ride through the streets of New York City.
When Hodrinsky, who has since founded a riding collective called Moto Fellas, first participated, there were around 100 participants in New York’s DGR. “The awareness, participation and fundraising around it has grown, and I think this year riders in the area have greater involvement in the planning stages to get it to be the safest and best-executed it could possibly be,” he said.
But as fun as it is to ride — and see — a flock of sharp-dressed riders atop vintage and classic motorcycles around Brooklyn and Manhattan, Hodrinsky stresses the importance of why he and thousands of others are dolling themselves up and setting out on two wheels.
“It’s one of the things that men don’t really talk about, their health or their feelings,” he said. “It’s not really on the radar or shared among us, and it’s a good way to get the discussion going, do it in a kind of fun way and remind everybody it is important that we have to get checked and talk to our doctor and tell friends.”
8 questions for a Distinguished Gentleman’s Rider
Metro: What will you wear Sunday?
Jason Hodrinksy: I’m not 100 percent sure, but something dapper I hope.
Describe your facial hair for the ride.
I’m attempting to grow my beard as quickly as possible, I can’t pull off a mustache. My dad, he’s had a mustache for years, he was doing Movember before Movember was cool.
You ride to honor your dad. Does he participate?
His vice is boating, but he does help me out building bikes and working on them. He’s a pretty common fixture in my garage.
What’s the best part of riding through NYC?
The crowd reaction. Traffic in New York does not make riding in New York all that much fun, but riding in the DGR, every year we just see people stop and stare and cheer and ask what’s going on. It’s a sight to see, it’s a bunch of people in suits and bowties and mustaches riding around on all these cool bikes, so the positive reaction just kinda adds to the excitement of it all.
What’s your most gentlemanly quality?
I think it’s always being ready and willing to help others. I always like to lend a hand when I can, or an ear or shoulder.
Who, to you, is the most distinguished gentleman of all?
Historically, I’ve always idolized Paul Newman, especially not only for his car racing and motorcycling “Cool Hand Luke” but also his charity and Paul Newman Foundation.
Tell us about your motorcycle.
I’ve got a bunch, it’s a little bit of an obsession. But the one I will be riding will be a 2004 Triumph Thunderbird Sport that I have completely rebuilt from the wheels up. It’s been a project of mine, and I am very excited to have it out there to debut for the DGR.
Where’s your favorite place to ride?
Harriman State Park (in Sloatsburg, New York). It’s up north a little bit. It’s amazing and a very popular motorcycle destination.