Six questions for Niklas Borg, Rollout Manager and organizer of The Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride Gothenburg
Classic motorbikes and clothing to match are on the agenda when The Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride take to the streets. A global event that focuses on raising money for cancer research and men’s mental health.
Photo by Géza Ribberström Palyi
The Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride, shortened DGR, is a pretty new initiative but which has grown rapidly since the start. Today you’ll find DGR in over 600 cities across over 90 countries. After two months of fundraising, it’s time for le grand finale, where participants put on their best clothing, meet and drive around each chapter’s respective cities on classic and vintage motorbikes. In Gothenburg, it took place on September 24. Organiser was Niklas Borg, who works as Rollout Manager at Stendahls, and throughout the years, the Gothenburg chapter has raised approximately 500 000 SEK.
Tell us about The Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride
- It was founded in 2012 by Australian Mark Hawwa who came across a photo of Mad Men character Don Draper, dressed in a 1960’s suit and sitting across a classic motorbike. This inspired Mark to start a charity ride on motorbikes connected to this unique style, to raise money and tear down the, often negative, biker stereotype.
It soon became clear that DGR would become an international success with 2500 participants in 64 cities the first year. Fast-forward to 2017 and DGR has raised close to $13 000 000 for projects that work with men’s health and prostate cancer research.
When was the first DGR in Sweden?
- Stockholm was the first European city to 2012 hold a DGR in a smaller scale.
And how did you get involved?
- I read about the initiative in 2012 and thought about putting on a suit and riding into town for a cup of coffee, but due to rain it didn’t happen. And in 2013 I looked up DGR again and saw that it had become an annual thing, and that Gothenburg didn’t have an organiser. I asked to organise the event myself. The reason was completely selfish: I didn’t know anyone who rode a motorcycle and wanted to find like-minded people who liked the same motorbikes - vintage, classic, preferably self-built. The charity thing tagged along and today it’s a natural thing to get involved in. And it becomes so much easier when you can combine it with an interest you share with others.
The fundraising part of The Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride takes place on registered participants’ sponsor pages. Friends, family and colleagues can also donate money in a participant’s name. Since 2016, all means go to the Movember foundation.
As a local business, you can sponsor DGR with a $200 or $500 gift, and then you get your logo and link to your website on the local DGR webpage. Companies can also contribute with other things, for example printing material, and get the same exposure.
Why is The Distinguished Gentleman an important initiative?
- Prostate cancer is the second deadliest cancer form for men, just beaten by malignant melanoma. You don’t get called in for a screening, you yourself need to take the initiative to get tested. Unfortunately, it’s a sly disease, because you can go for years without symptoms but still have cancerous processes. A simple blood test, a PSA test, can show if you need a more thorough screening. So in addition to raising money, we’re trying to get men over the age of 45 to go and get tested.
Two years ago, one DGR organizer in the US tragically chose to end his own life. As a direct result of this, DGR together with the Movember foundation are now working with different project dedicated to getting men to confide in each other when you’re not feeling well mentally, instead of carrying it around on your own. A friend or a family member that you can confide in can make all the difference, so as a man you need to get pass the stigma that men don’t talk about their feelings.
It’s called The Distinguished Gentleman. Can women also participate?
- Absolutely! That’s something we really try to bring forward. We really want to see more women who share the passion for these kinds of motorbikes.
What’s next for DGR Gothenburg?
- Well, we have our grand finale in September, but you can still donate money until October 8. The global goal this year is $5 000 000, and so far, just about $4 500 000 has been raised.
Photos: Daniel Ek