Local focus: motorcycles and men’s mental health

Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride raises funds in the most dapper way possible.

The Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride (DGR) roars through Tauranga this month with men’s mental health in the spotlight.

Founded in Sydney 10 years ago, the motorcycle ride now takes place in over 700 cities around the world.

This is a unique fundraising opportunity where local cyclists come together to promote conversations about men’s mental health.

“The Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride is about making sure we raise awareness about things like prostate cancer and men’s mental health, especially around suicide as well,” said Tauranga ride host Darren Leggatt.

“As Kiwis, we’re just not good at talking about our feelings, what we’re doing, good or bad.

“The funding that we generate as runners goes into mental health programs and not just into global research to try to eliminate prostate cancer, but also locally.”

The Tauranga Stage has raised over $80,000 over the eight years of its existence.

About 200 riders participate each year and, in addition to having a classic or vintage motorcycle, Bayride Motorcycles owner Damian Fleming said the only other requirement is rider attire.

“They can dress different, take out their different bikes.

“We tend to be a bit quiet or gruff or to keep to ourselves and this is a really good opportunity for us to talk about men’s mental health and to do a health check.

“As most of us get older, this becomes more important.”

Despite being called a gentleman’s ride, Fleming said everyone was welcome.

“A lot of women join in the day and also dress dapper.

“Everyone is welcome.”

Maddie Stubbins from Whakatāne will be participating for the third time.

“The first two were as a man and I transitioned in 2020,” she said.

“Covid meant that for two years there was not the same type of event.

“This year I still wanted to be a part of it because it’s open to gentlemen, not just gentlemen.”

A first-hand experience is at the origin of his desire to raise funds for the DGR.

“I’ve been through what it’s like to have depression, to be unsure of what I needed in my life and where I was going. Also to be ashamed, to hold things back and to don’t mean anything or say anything to anyone”

Everyone agrees that riding a motorcycle has a positive impact on mental health.

“Riding a motorcycle is a fantastic antidote to stress,” Fleming said.

“It’s very different from driving a car or going for a run.

“You focus on the road, the conditions, the wind, the noise, the bike itself and a lot of your cares and worries go away.”

Stubbins compares it to meditation.

“One thing I really love about riding a motorcycle is that you’re in the moment when you’re riding a bike – it’s kind of like meditation,” she said.

“You have to pay attention to what you see, take into account the weather, you feel things, you hear things.”

His son Daniel is also a long-time supporter of the DGR, having participated four times.

“It’s a great way to not only raise money for men’s mental and physical health, but to raise awareness about it all.

“I personally struggled with it and a lot of my family and friends do.

“It’s just a great way to try to open up the conversation a bit more with men about who we are.”

This year, the Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride will take place on Sunday, May 22.

You can find out more about the event and a runner to sponsor here.

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