Across the globe, more than 60,000 riders in more than 700 cities “rode together” for the world’s largest motorcycling charity event – The Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride.
Santa Clarita Valley was no exception as resident Chris Blankenhorn organized a local ride on Sunday with a route showcasing parts of Saugus, Newhall and Stevenson Ranch. The ride kicked off at noon in each city’s respective time zone.
“The Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride is basically a fundraiser, but also a consciousness-raiser, for men’s health issues such as prostate cancer, depression, suicide [or other men’s health issues],” Blankenhorn said.
The ride is a way to showcase classic and vintage motorcycles, all in the name of men’s health, according to the DGR organization. Funds raised from the ride will be invested in both local and global prostate cancer research and men’s mental health programs by the official charity partner, Movember.
Since 2016, DGR raised approximately $34 million and invested the funds into Movember.
Blankenhorn said he organized the first Santa Clarita ride in 2019 because he was inspired when he rode in San Francisco alongside his brother and 400 other riders.
“I have a personal stake in it because my father and father-in-law passed away from [prostate cancer] at the age of 68,” Blankenhorn said. “I’m 65 now, so it seems too young. The idea is to celebrate, get out and have a good time, but to raise awareness as well.”
This year’s ride had about 16 riders sign up, Blankenhorn said.
In 2019, they had about 30 riders. Blankenhorn said they didn’t have a ride in 2020 because it was the height of the coronavirus.
Slowly, they are getting the word out about the ride and getting more people signed up.
“We’re going to be very careful, try to stick together and just ride right,” Blankenhorn said. “People will see us dressed up on our colorful motorcycles and hopefully wave at us. We’ll wave back.”
The ride isn’t just for men, as women are encouraged to join too, whether it’s driving on their motorcycles or supporting the ride any way they see fit.
Eileen Blankenhorn, Chris’ wife, followed the Santa Clarita riders while driving the “support vehicle.”
“I’m going to be behind all of the motorcyclists for safety reasons,” Blankenhorn said. “I’m carrying some equipment like ramps, a fire extinguisher or a medical emergency kit [in case] that any of the bikes have trouble.”
Santa Clarita resident Rudolph Baca said this was his first year participating in the ride.
He brought his blue 1978 BMW. Baca said he loves being in a community of motorcycle enthusiasts and they often participate in a lot of fundraising events.
“But I think [DGR] is very unique. It’s for a good cause,” Baca said. “It seems like the men are overlooked, unless it’s November [with No Shave November]. But [men’s health] is taken for granted because men are just men and we’re tough guys, too macho. The ride is a segue to men opening up and addressing their health.”