I began riding motorcycles while I was in high school. It was the lure of the open road and pleasant scenery that I appreciated most, plus the singularity of myself with the machine. From time to time, I’d ride with a few friends or ride with a passenger but mostly it was the solo nature of the ride that appealed to me. Like many young men of that era, I was influenced by Hollywood films like “Easy Rider,” starring Peter Fonda, who co-wrote, co-produced, and co-directed the film with Dennis Hopper, the film’s other star actor.
Image, above: Our distinguished writer/biker/clothing aficionado…
Recently, I rode with a half dozen bikers to the annual “Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride,” the ultimate motorcycle adventure that generates funds to benefit men’s health issues around the world. On the same day each year, riders from around the world trim their beards or come clean-shaven, wearing their finest apparel in order to look dapper on their vintage, classic, or café racer motorcycles. My friends and I had signed on to ride with a group from Rhinebeck, N.Y., and were to join up with them at the Duchess County Fairgrounds for a 10:30 am start time. As we arrived at our starting point, we were greeted by 135 fellow riders.
We were on our machines when we heard the first of the motorcycle engines come to life. It was such an amazing sight to see all these great bikes in neat lines of position on the road, but what got to me most was the sound of gentle throbbing motorcycle engines running together at street-legal speeds. To my ears, it was like the Boston Symphony playing something soothing and beautiful from Franz Schubert. As a former musician, I have weird thoughts like that. I caught myself smiling underneath my helmet as I was overwhelmed by the sights and sounds surrounding me.
Also enhancing smiles: the people on the side of the road cheering and waving at us as we passed. We were even cheered on by automobile drivers who had their travels halted while they watched our parade. And the New York State Police were incredible, controlling the traffic flow and allowing us to progress undisturbed.
When we returned to the Duchess County Fairgrounds, we walked about with pride, having raised $36,459 for men’s health agencies. On Sunday, May 21st, 2023, there were 893 group rides in 107 countries with a total of 105,883 riders who raised $7.28 million worldwide. Since 2012, we motorcycle riders worldwide have raised $44.84 million. And next year we will come back and do it again.