Monday, May 23, 2022

Distinguished Gentleman's Ride brings out the bikes and bowties in Annapolis

Motorcycles parked at a curb.
The DGR "strictly" limits entries to "vintage inspired" motorcycles.

 The line up of motorcycles in the parking lot of the VIN909WineCafe in an historic section of Annapolis, Maryland didn't include a Royal Enfield or any really vintage bike. But the spirit was strong.

A gorgeous new Indian and a sporty looking Triumph Scrambler were the closest to any "retro" look while 30 or so others were what I suppose cafe racers would have looked like if the genre had been invented today instead of 60 years ago. They looked stripped for racing, with blacked-out motors. 

A luxurious BMW, one tall dirt bike and a couple scooters rounded out the entrants in Sunday's Distinguished Gentleman's Ride. The group would be just the right size, one rider told me: not too big for comfort. 

Motorcycle parked next to curb.
Modern Triumph Scrambler displayed classic touches.

I nodded: the VIN909WineCafe is in the historic Eastport section of old Annapolis, where streets are so narrow automobiles must dodge around one another when they meet. Just getting out to open road would challenge any pack. 

The riders themselves turned out in full Distinguished Gentleman style. As modified for the near 90-degree heat, that is. 

One dashing young man managed to look completely appropriate in short pants: "The heat," he explained. The short pants showed off the tattoos on his legs which, combined with his playful smile, seemed the perfect touch.

Motorcyclist in short pants with bowtie.
Short pants were never more becoming a gentleman.

Still I had to admire the grit of guys who wore bowties and suit jackets, somehow managing not to sweat.

"I brought a blazer," a man in shirt sleeves told me, but no way was he going to wear a tie. I suggested he just sling the jacket over his shoulder in some debonair fashion. 

"Or strap it to the bike!" he responded.

Man next to VIN909Winecafe sign.
Justin Moore, executive chef at VIN909WineCafe, led the ride.

The Annapolis ride was hosted by Justin Moore, executive chef at VIN909WineCafe. Hosting the ride wasn't really a promotion for the restaurant, a farm-to-table establishment with a deep wine list and 4.5 stars on Yelp. It's not even open at that hour.

"It's me," Justin said of leading a DGR ride. A big challenge was settling on a route and wrestling to get it right on a Google Map, he said.

Printed-out route maps for the riders showed so many handwritten notations they might have been drawn by a 16th-Century pirate. Which, again, seemed perfectly appropriate for the crew of happy warriors who gathered to ride Sunday morning.

Map with many handwritten notations.
A map a pirate might draw, for a region that saw its share of pirates.

The Annapolis ride benefitted from a sort of bidding war among several riders to raise the most money for the DGR causes. There was a prize for the top fundraiser but it was clear this contest was driven by friendly competition, not hope of reward.

I live in Florida, and that's where my Royal Enfield motorcycle resides, so I wasn't riding in the Annapolis DGR.

I wanted to see a DGR gathering and so had signed up just to watch the riders set off. It seemed, by the time of departure, that they already had accomplished their good deed for the day, by giving to charity and getting together with strangers to talk motorcycles.

Three men looking dapper.
Top fundraisers Sheldon Richardson, Mike Burcham and Gary Wilson.

The ride "goes right past my home," one scooterist told me, with a grim. "If it's too hot I'll just go home."

His no-fuss scooter, pink shirt, shorts and flip-flops made their own cheerful statement. Perfect for a gentleman on a hot day.

Casually dressed man rides by on scooter.
Perfectly dapper in attitude as well as dress.
Man in suit and bowtie.
Demonstrating the gentlemanly art of never breaking a sweat.
Two men wearing vests and neckties.
White shirts, ties, vests and flat caps. Done.

Woman and man pose behind motorcycle.
Check out Mike Burcham's YouTube channel LifeOfBurch.

Man and woman in dapper outfits.
Dressed for the occasion.

Man wearing tie with motorcycle.
Classic all the way around.

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