In a first for Cambodia, almost 100 dapperly dressed bikers mounted their beasts for the country’s first Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride. Words by Marissa Carruthers. Photography by Lucas Veuve.
A deafening roar reverberates down the road, cutting through the sleepy Sunday morning silence, as the refined ladies and gents fire up their engines. A line of gleaming custom and classic-style motorbikes pull away in single file as they set off on their 43-kilometre ride to raise cash for research, and awareness, of prostate cancer.
Minutes earlier, the mix of foreign and local riders – and a handful of females – gathered at Cafe Sito on Street 240. The neatly lined up bikes, including Harleys, Hondas and vintage Vespas, caused traffic to stop and stare; the sight of the group – all dressed to impress with tweed, leather, gingham and a healthy amount of moustaches being the fashion of the day – caused jaws to drop with shock.
Making its Cambodian premier, the worldwide Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride (DGR) is now in its fourth year. Taking place this year in 408 cities, and this year seeing rides in Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Kampot, the rules are simple: bring the right bike, dress dapper in swish clothing, and abide by the rules of the road.
The ultimate aim is to unite stylish avid bikers, showcase a range of spectacular motorcycles, from café racers and rats, to street trackers and scramblers, and raise money towards finding a cure for prostate cancer. “I love custom bikes and I love my prostate so it made sense to join all the other countries taking part and set up a ride in Cambodia,” says organiser Patrick Uong, co-founder of Moto Cambodge, which is behind the event.
Given strict rules to abide by – it’s not a race, helmets must be worn at all times, ride behind designated group leaders – the impressive row of bikes snaked away into the distance as they set off on the four-hour ride. From Street 240, they headed over the Japanese bridge to complete a circuit of Chroy Changva peninsular, stopping off briefly at Sokha Hotel for a few snaps. The group then made its way to Takhmeo in Kandal province before returning to the capital for a celebratory street party at Bassac Lane.
Expat Cecelia Marshall decided to mount her Kawasaki as soon as she heard about the event. “My grandfather was diagnosed with prostate cancer,” she says. “He never got tested and it’s something that can be caught early on. When I heard about this, I knew I had to sign up. It’s something more than just wearing a t-shirt and going for a run. You’ve got a good group of people together and good fashion so it’s a unique experience.”
This year’s worldwide DGR aims to raise more than $3 million for prostate cancer research. The deadly disease kills 1,300 men every day, the equivalent of one man each second globally. As well as raising funds, DGR aims to raise awareness about the importance of men above the age of 40 getting annual medical check ups. “It’s an issue that needs to be taken seriously,” says Oung, who was riding a customised 1993 Yamaha SR400.
Upon arriving at the post-ride barbecue, a charity auction was held at Hanger 44, with items including rum from Samai distillery, a stool
from Alchemy Design Co and ties designed by Remy Hou, going under the hammer, raising more than $1,500. In total, the ride raised more than $3,500, with fundraising efforts continuing until Oct. 16 – a larger amount than that raised in Thailand and Vietnam.
“This was much more than expected,” Oung says. “We are super stoked about that; the spirit was great. We’d like to thank all of our sponsors for their donations. We couldn’t have done it without their support.”
With a strong biking crew already prevalent in the Kingdom, thanks to groups such as Moto Cambodge, launched by Uong and pals Justin Stewart and Paul Freer in 2013 to serve the growing community of bike fans who like tinkering with their beasts, the premier event was hailed a hit. And plans are already underway to make the ride even bigger and better next year.
“This was the first year and we hope to have made notice. We will make even more notice next year. It was a great, fun day out. It is an excuse to get dressed up, and everyone enjoyed themselves. And this is all for a fantastic cause,” Uong says.
“This certainly wasn’t our intention but it definitely gives a positive impact of bikers away from being hooligans,” he adds. Watching the stream of stylish riders tweak their moustaches and fix their bow ties, Oung is right, the ride has definitely helped smash stereotypes.
For more information, visit gentlemansride.com/rides/Cambodia or find them on Facebook.