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A Distinguished Gentleman

Is there anything better than classic and vintage style motorbikes? Well yes, dapperly dressed men and women on classic and vintage style motorbikes, uniting for men’s health. Their objective? Raise much needed awareness and funds for Prostate Cancer Research and Men’s Mental Health.

The Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride is a global event, popping up at major cities this Sunday 23 May. Canberrans, expect to hear them riding through the nation’s capital from 10am and celebrating on the QT Deck from 1:30pm.

Ahead of the big ride, we caught up with John Aust (DGR Canberra Host), Simon Whittaker (DGR top fundraiser) and Steve Farmer (Shannons).

It went a little something like this…

From left to right: Simon Whittaker, John Aust 

QT: Why did you get involved in DGR?

John Aust (JA): I think the whole cause of the event, fundraising and supporting the issues that they are – research into prostate cancer and men’s mental health. They’ve both been things that I have been witness to over the course of my life. When I discovered the event three years ago, I thought that’s something I wouldn’t mind being part of. I actually already went out and bought the motorcycle which fit the brief and I don’t mind dressing up like a dapper gentleman, even though I am probably not deep down.

QT: Do you normally dress so distinguished?

JA: In the old days I loved wearing suits, I was a Collins Street banker. I loved it. This is a bit different, you can use eclectic pieces – and it gives me a chance to wear bow ties. Stay tuned for what I am wearing on Sunday.

QT: Is there a personal connection for you with Prostate Cancer and/or Men’s Mental Health – if you feel comfortable talking about it?

JA: There has been. My own father had prostate issues right until the end of his days. It wasn’t the cause of his passing, but it caused him great grief in life. He first discovered he had those issues in the 80s, and there hasn’t been a lot done with it in terms of awareness. Now they are intensifying it, it’s important for me to be part of the event and know people like Simon who put the word out there for men to get checked. Just get it done.

QT: What is your favourite bike?

JA: That’s a curly one, it’s usually the one you’re with. I love the one that I have – the Royal Enfield. It’s a lovely gadget, only on the market the last couple of years. I love the classic look. Growing up with a father who loved motorcycles, he always rode British bikes and that fits the same image of the Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride.

QT: How many bikes do you have?

JA: I actually only have the one, I got into bikes three years ago after 40 years of not being on them. It’s a third childhood.

QT:  You are a big component of the Canberra ride after only three years involved in the day, how did you connect with the DGR organisers?

JA: In 2019, I noticed the Canberra ride didn’t have an allocated host, so I called the organisers from the website and asked what do I have to do. I had been involved in car clubs and organising events for them for decades, since my twenties, so I thought motorbikes can’t be too different. I was connected with Simon who is heavily involved in the event and a brilliant fundraiser for the Canberra ride (Simon is one of the top Australian fundraisers, read more on him here) and Steve from Shannons who in 2019, alongside myself were the top movers for DGR in 2019.

QT: There is such a great sense of community with DGR, did you know Simon prior to getting involved?

JA: I didn’t know Simon or any of the bike fraternity here until I joined the ride. We all have similar interests, and there are a number of clubs and associations that do things that I like. Steve from Shannons has the Car and Coffee Facebook page, Simon runs the Canberra Café Racers page, so I attend a few of their rides. It’s opened a few doors, I’ve met a lot of people and they are great.

QT: Who gets involved in the ride?

JA: There is a wide range of ages and that is really exciting. We had an organisers day the other day and I was probably the oldest bloke there. I gave the keys to my Royal Enfield to one of the guys there who was 22 and on his L’s. He just had one of those faces you can trust.

Steve Farmer (SF): There is a sense of trust, comradery and community that exist in motorcycling which just doesn’t exist anywhere else. It’s a unique thing.

QT: Steve, Shannons are quite involved, tell us about your experience with DGR?

SF: This will be the fifth DGR that I have been involved with, but only the third with Shannons. Prostate cancer and men’s mental health has touched my life – through my involvement in DGR my dad actually got tested, that eventually led to the discovery of a different health issue. Personal experiences led me to, through my work at Shannons, want to get involved. Now I get the job of arranging our national partnership – Shannons will have physical presence at 12 of the rides throughout Australia.

It’s such an interesting and fun event, I’m looking forward to riding on Sunday.

QT: And what about bikes?

SF: I got into motorcycles really late, I’ve only been riding for about 8 years. I really wanted to ride a 1955 Matchless, which is the my grandfather had, which is collecting dust in my garage.

From left to right: Simon Whittaker, Steve Farmer, John Aust

QT: How much has the DGR Canberra team raised so far?

JA: As we get closer to this weekend, we have reached a total of $250,000 AUD from Canberrans generous support. We are currently the number 40 top fundraiser in the world, out of over 700 participating cities.

If you would like to donate visit the Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride and if you’d like to be part of the Canberra ride, visit the DGR Canberra official Facebook page.

QT Canberra is proud to support the Distinguished Gentleman’s Canberra ride in 2021.

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