Sunday, May 22nd, 2022
The (sadly, now deceased) singer Meatloaf once issued a song called “Two Out Of Three Ain’t Bad“. A noble enough ballad, maybe, but what about just ONE out of THREE ?
A few times in the recent past, I had heard mention of something called the Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride but, although I have often been characterised as a Rider, both the other two adjectives had yet to make it, even singly, into any sentence which also had my name in it. However, at last year’s R.A.R.E. charity event (an account of which you can find on this site) one of the organisers, my friend Martin Cieslar, who is also involved with the DGR, suggested that I should try and come on it in 2022.
I duly registered myself and, whilst I do not regret it, I have to say this prompted an absolute deluge of mainly pointless emails which I did find a trifle irritating. Still, the DGR is somehow associated with the “Movember” movement and it was for a good causes (Prostate cancer, mental health, etc.,) so I pressed ahead.
Theoretically at least (the reality was a little different) you are supposed to have a “classic” (or “classically styled“) motorcycle and I figured my Harley-Davidson Fat Boy, from 2004, might reasonably qualify there. Riders are also encouraged to dress the part …….. That was a little more worrying but I do have some decent trousers, a decent shirt and some shiny shoes and so I decided to risk those. My ensemble, such as it was, was completed by a rather jaunty waistcoat and bow-tie, both borrowed from my good friend Barry, who also chipped in with a fob watch and golden chain.
I am also in possession of an old, open faced helmet. Although this appears woefully inadequate by current standards, it was all the rage at one time and sort of “fitted” the theme – so I went with that !
The day dawned, mercifully bright and sunny so I did not need to worry unduly about my (only) good clothes. The gathering for the event was within the precincts of the Staropramen Brewery in the district of Smíchov in Prague 5. I have to say at this point (and no-one is paying me !) that the brewery authorities are extremely generous in allowing events such as this to take place in the yard of their main building.
When I arrived, I soon saw that neither the code for suitable motorcycles nor the one suitable dress were being adhered to that strictly. It should be said though, to be fair, that some people had made enormous efforts on the costume front (it could almost have been Henley-on-Thames in the 50s !). There were some genuine “Classic” motorcycles amongst an array of hardware that certainly spanned several decades. The “Movember” association was reflected in some of the people (mercifully the men !) sporting real of false moustaches – and some motorcycles had moustaches affixed to their headlights of front mudguards …
Martin, classically attired himself and looking somewhat distinguished, greeted me ……
In the corner a band in traditional costumes played, you guessed it, traditional music and it was all a bit like a garden party at times.
Various vendors provided refreshments, with all proceeds going to the charity and Staropramen thoughtfully had its non-alcoholic beer on tap. Triumph Motorcycles is a major sponsor of the event which takes place worldwide and there was a display of the company’s current model range. As a one time owner of both a T120V Bonneville 650 and a T140V Bonneville 750, I can see how far the company has progressed since those halcyon days of the late 1970s and early 1980s.
There were awards for the best costumes and also for the most money pledged. Although I was as snappily dressed as I can remember, I failed to be recognised in the first category and obviously, with mean friends like mine, the second also eluded me. In fairness, some people had amassed very impressive totals !
We were there to ride and, with a police escort instead of the usual “vestáci” we set off to navigate what proved to be quite an interesting route both through and then along the fringes of the city. Somehow I found myself very near the front of the column and communicated to Lucie, who was waiting in the City, that I had an excellent position on the “outside” (more of that later !)
The ride followed the normal pattern and, although quite a few of the participants obviously had never done column riding before, there were luckily no mishaps. The police escort, possibly under some, not generally known, time-pressures, set a somewhat rapid pace. It was certainly not a leisurely jaunt around the City. As always, the crowds loved it though and the roads were quickly lined with waving (and, of course, filming) onlookers.
We came to the Powder Tower, one of Prague’s former City gates and rode through it. That was where Lucie was waiting and I saw HER quite clearly ……. Sadly, a combination of not having her glasses on and a misunderstanding of the term “outside” (to Czechs, apparently, it means by the kerb …) meant she did not see me, nor manage to capture me properly, as I rode past ! In fairness, I am actually on this photo and I know who I am, but you would need the visual acuity of a Peregrine Falcon to spot me !
After a brief stop in Wenceslas Square, we returned to the brewery and dissipated from there.
Luckily, Lucie was, by then, waiting at a pre-arranged spot and, as I was by myself at that point and easy to spot, she caught me riding past.
All in a good cause – and I am thinking about 2023 already !