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I have a very nice tweed jacket and matching waistcoat hanging in my wardrobe.  It’s pristine. Well, it would be, because I have only worn it the once and that was a few years back one Christmas Day when I had been invited for lunch at my mother’s home. I remember I wore it with a rather handsome orange shirt. No cravat, though, but otherwise adorned with a silk handkerchief tucked nonchalantly into the top pocket.

Oh, and I think I was also wearing a fob watch with chain, one of two Harley-Davidson ones I own.

Where’s he going with this now, you may ask? Well, many bikers will know of the Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride (DGR) that takes place annually across the globe. It’s an amazing spectacle, when classic and vintage-style motorcycles arrive with their owners dressed in dapper clothing and riding together to raise funds and awareness for men’s mental health and prostate cancer research.

This year, by all accounts there were 958 rides, across 105 countries, and with almost £41 million raised since 2002. That is some impact globally. In my county of Lincolnshire, a hundred riders had registered for the day (May 19), with £13,720 so far raised, topping the Lincolnshire fundraising goal which had been set at £10,000.


Not the most appropriate of attire to attend the DRG, but that’s Gonzo for you…

The riders had planned to converge at Wickenby Aerodrome, which was formerly used as a satellite station for operations by Lancaster Squadrons 12 and 626 during the Second World War. The purpose-built bomber base was constructed in late 1942 and early 1943. It had two T2 type hangars and one B1 type. The B1 and one of the T2 hangars can still be seen on the airfield site. Today, Wickenby is a busy GA Aerodrome (all civil aviation operations other than scheduled air services and non-scheduled air transport operations for remuneration or hire) with a fully renovated café and a popular meeting place for bikers.

As I arrived, bikes were already lined up neatly along the main entrance drive, as smartly-turned-out-gentlemen were wandering amongst the line-up, pausing and chatting, sporting colourful trousers, britches, boots, jackets, slicked-back hair and twirly, groomed and manicured moustaches the order of the day.

Apart from the occasional classic, many bikes were of the more modern era, so my Harley Breakout didn’t look too out of place, although the roar of the Vance & Hines pipes turned a number of heads as I cruised by to the end of the line, the 240 rear flicking up the occasional bit of gravel.


Relaxing at Wickenby before the start of the DGR run to Lincoln Cathedral

Fortunately, the skies were clear blue, a glorious day, and the atmosphere was all very jovial and chummy, as you might expect, with the café full, both inside and spilling out on to the terrace, where I sat with a friend and enjoyed a coffee… which arrived later than we had anticipated, such had been the queue for refreshments, so we actually missed the departure, only hearing the sound of engines leaving en route to Lincoln Cathedral.

It had never been my intention to join the ride, although it had been a toss-up between that and joining my Harley Chapter on a run to the Humber Bridge to escort riders travelling from the north of the country to attend this year’s InSpire Ride event at the International Bomber Command Centre in Lincoln, paying tribute to the men of Stalag Luft III who took part in the ‘Great Escape’ in March 1944.


Steve McQueen’s Triumph TR6 650 Special | Photo credit: Di Gunter

No doubt, like me, you have seen the film many times, as it’s usually on television over Christmas. Loosely based on the true story, it’s hard to believe that the Hollywood blockbuster was released in 1963. Of course, the role of Steve McQueen as the ‘cooler king’ Virgil Hilts is still best remembered for THAT motorcycle jump scene across a 12ft tall, barbed wire fence on a Triumph TR6 650 Special! And ‘that motorcycle jump’, one of the most famous film scenes of all time, was the link to InSpire Ride 2024, when the Triumph used in the film was on display at the IBCC.


Don’t scare the children…

So, no, I didn’t make that either. From Wickenby I headed off across country through Market Rasen and into the Wolds, taking in some lovely scenery, stopping off for a bottle of ginger ale and cake at the community-run Tealby Village Shop in this most picturesque of places. Just down the road towards Beck Hill Ford is a pretty stone cottage once owned by Bernie Taupin, Elton John’s songwriter. I visited the cottage on several occasions to interview him, and actually attended his wedding, with Elton as best man. Bernie had named  the cottage ‘The Piglet In The Wild’. The pleasant lady in the village shop said she wasn’t aware of that, as the name had since been changed, so there was a bit of history for her to note.

There are a myriad of walks around this area, but I was on the Breakout and keen to make use of the beautiful weather, so myself and my friend continued our ride across country to Market Rasen and to the outskirts of Lincoln.

It had proved to be a beautiful day of riding, in great company, and a delight to witness so many riders participating in such a global, worthy cause.


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