Motorcyclists take a ride for ‘distinguished gentlemen’

Santa Clarita Valley motorcycles enthusiasts wait at Central Park in Santa Clarita for the 3rd annual Distinguished Gentleman's Ride on Sunday, May 22.. The DGR was first established in Australia 2012 and it is the world's largest motorcycling charity event. Jose Herrera/The Signal

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.   

Joshua De La Cruz sits on his father’s “monkey” bike while participants of the Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride of Santa Clarita prepare for the ride to begin at noon on Sunday. Jose Herrera/The Signal

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.   

Chris Blankenhorn, 65, who organized the 3rd annual Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride in Santa Clarita, reads aloud information about DGR. Blankenhorn said the ride is important as it brings awareness to men’s health issues such as prostate cancer and mental health. Jose Herrera/The Signal

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.   

Jed Gutierrez reflected on a side mirror of one of the motorbikes at Central Park. Gutierrez said he’s been driving motorcycles for about five years. He’s friend invited him to particpate in the DGR, and he happily accepted to ride along. Jose Herrera/The Signal

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.” 

Leather jackets and protective eye wear are used by motorcyclists to minimize dangers from weather and blinding light. Jose Herrera/The Signal
Eric Nordberg rides his Triumph motorbike for the 2022 Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride. The DGR in Santa Clarita Valley took an hour-and-a-half and participants drove through Newhall, Stevenson Ranch and Saugus with the focus being “trying to be as visible as possible.” Jose Herrera/The Signal

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