The Distinguished Gentlemen take their first ride out in Santa Clarita

The Distinguished Gentleman's Riders,(left to right) Oscar Mendez, Christian Haro, John Haro, Michael Finley, Alan Didion, and Anthony Schlenhner dressed up in dapper attire while riding motorcycles through SCV communities to promote the cause. ride to raise funds and awareness for prostate cancer research and suicide prevention Sept. 29, 2019. Gilbert Bernal/The Signal

Motorcycles and people in nice clothing turn heads when people see them out in the world, and Chris Blankenhorn is counting on that to bring attention to a good cause.

On Sunday, Blankenhorn organized Santa Clarita’s first Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride (DGR). Originally founded in 2012 in Australia, the Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride raises funds and awareness in partnership with the Movember Foundation for prostate cancer and men’s suicide. Motorcycle enthusiasts in 649 cities in 101 countries gather for one day at the end of Sept. each year to spread awareness through their hobby.

Blankenhorn, who organized and hosted the event for Santa Clarita, said that after participating in a ride in San Francisco, he was inspired to bring the event to his hometown. This year, he and the 30 other participating riders were able to raise $2,454 and planned to ride for an hour around Santa Clarita, hitting all the main spots in town like the mall, Old Town Newhall, and auto row.

“This event is about style and looks and we drive through the community giving people a wave, so everyone enjoys themselves,” Blankenhorn said. “I looked at some comparable cities and some of them have seven riders and some have 45 riders, so 30 is a really good turnout for our first event. I think this is a great event because it promotes community bonding for a good cause and it promotes a positive image for motorcyclists as well.”

Alan Didion, who has been riding for nine years, came to the ride because he wanted to marry his love of riding with supporting a good cause.

“Several men in my life have come close to suicide, and thankfully none have succeded, but we have a culture that encourages men to ‘man up’ and if we have events like this where we can do something classically ‘manly’ and to show that they can talk about their problems, then that’s important,” Didion said. “It’s hard to connect with people unless you know they’re there.”

Clark Bertram is a survivor of prostate cancer and said that after participating in the Los Angeles DGR, he was glad that Santa Clarita held an event since it is less crowded and chaotic.

“From a prostate cancer standpoint, if you catch it early the success rate is very high, so events like this help overcome the stigma of having that kind of intimate medical examination,” Bertram said. “There are a lot of men out there and prostate cancer is a big part of men’s health especially since now that we’re living longer, more people are going to get it.”

Canyon Country resident Michael Finley has been a participant of the DGR for three years and was excited to have the ride come to his hometown. Finley said that he believes that the enduring charm of motorcycles comes from the freedom they afford.

“The motorcycle is a symbol of freedom,” he said. “You can feel the wind and the differences in temperature and other things you just can’t experience in a car. It’s unquestionably about the freedom and also forming a connection with the world. When we ride around the community for events like this it encourages the community to connect with us and ask questions that help spread the word about important issues.”

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