Bikers across the capital are gearing up to don their most dapper wear and mount their classic motorbikes as Phnom Penh’s second Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride takes place this month. Words by Marissa Carruthers; photography by Lucas Veuve.
Classic and custom-made motorbikes can increasingly be seen weaving in and out of the plethora of Honda Dreams and Scoopies that constantly congest the capital’s roads.
“There has been a proliferation of these types of bikes in the last three years; it’s incredible how it’s grown” says Moto Cambodge co-founder, Patrick Uong, citing one of the reasons behind the decision to organise Phnom Penh’s first Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride last year. “We also thought taking part in an international event helps to show how dynamic Phnom Penh is and how quickly the custom-made scene is growing.”
The global charity drive, which saw 408 cities take part in 2015 and is making its fifth outing this month, aims to unite suavely dressed men and women who share a love of custom and classic bikes, and give them the chance to hit the roads and showcase their two-wheeled rides while raising awareness of prostate cancer and funds to support research.
Last year’s traffic-stopping event saw a snake of more than 90 spectacular motorbikes, from café racers and rats, to street trackers and scramblers, take a circular route from Phnom Penh to Chroy Changvar peninsular, then Takhmeo in Kandal province.
A celebratory street party with a charity auction at Bassac Lane rounded off the day, raising more than $1,100 – higher than the funds raised in neighbouring Vietnam and Thailand.
With the event hailed a success, it is making a return this year with a call being made for avid riders to join in the fun on Sep. 25. “We want to create a really high quality event,” says Uong, who will be riding his custom classic 1977 Kawasaki KZ750.”Last year’s event had a real camaraderie about it, and a real sense of community; it wasn’t competitive. We want to replicate that.”
While the rules remain the same – bring the right bike, dress dapper in suave clothing and abide by the rules of the road – organisers, Moto Cambodge, have shortened the journey, cutting it to 22km. “This means we can drive slower, and take our time,” says Uong, noting that negotiating the capital’s notorious traffic together proved a problem last year.
An after party – the location is still to be confirmed – will once again be held, with a barbecue and charity auction. All proceeds will go to the international event’s funds for prostate cancer research. This year, the event is also raising awareness about male suicide.
“Every minute a man dies from prostate cancer,” says Uong. “The rate of male suicide is also one a minute. These are serious issues.”
Sticking to the steadfast Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride’s global rules, riders of all ages and experience can enter, provided they turn up with the correct bike.
“The event is mainly about the ride, but it’s also about the underlying classic and custom motorcycles and the culture that comes with that,” he says.
“We don’t want to be seen as exclusive but we can’t include other types of bikes in the ride. It’s not for street bikes or dirt bikes or those bikes you see every day.”
The other element is the attire, with participants expected to be turn up with the right look. “Think tailored and bespoke,” Uong advises. “Pocket squares, cufflinks and broaches; all these small finishes top the look off.”
Riders can register for free at gentlemansride.com and selecting Cambodia, then Phnom Penh. There is also the option to become a fundraiser.
Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride is on the hunt for sponsors and donors to help make this year’s event extra special.
From donating items for the charity auction to volunteering services at check points along the way, recording the event or helping with organisation, there are plenty of ways to get involved.
For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org