These Guys are the Best Reason to Shut Down the BQE

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Photo courtesy of Ethan Covey Photography

On a scorching late-September day, Mike Higgins and Allister Klingensmith slipped on tweed and leather jackets, pulled on their helmets, and got onto their bikes.

Ignoring the heat radiating out of their vintage engines, the two cruised up, over, and down the East River, leading a roaring trail of 1,000 vintage and classic motorcycles. In doing so, they raised over $146,000 for prostate cancer research and men’s mental health resources.

“It was surreal and incredibly cool,” says Higgins.

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen

This wasn’t just another ride; this was the sixth annual Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride. Founded in Sydney in 2012, DGR unites well-dressed men and women all over the world to raise money and awareness for prostate cancer research and male suicide prevention resources. Between 2013 and 2016, DGR raised over $8 million. This year the organization added $4.7 million to that total, with help from 90,000 riders in 600 cities around the world.

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Photo courtesy of Ethan Covey Photography

The strongest showing worldwide is in the United States, and the biggest ride in the U.S. is in New York. Here, Higgins and Klingensmith run the show. The two trim, high-spirited dudes devote their nights and weekends to tackling the mountain of tasks needed to organize the event: building and fine-tuning networks of partners and volunteers, organizing pre-ride and finale events, and slowly chipping away at the logistics of hosting a 1,000-person interborough parade.

As if that doesn’t sound hard enough, Klingensmith says, “replace motorcycles with cats. Imagine getting 1,000 cats to turn right on Wythe Avenue. Now imagine those cats are really heavy and can go 60, 70, 80 miles per hour.”

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Friends With Benefits

It’s a massive undertaking, for sure, so we’re proud to have painted a mural to help these guys build buzz around the event. We joined a list of local partners that included Ducati Triumph NYC and Dianese, as well as Jack’s, who kept the caffeine flowing, Van Heusen, who designed a custom silk tie, Proraso, who trimmed beards at the finish line. The NYPD even got involved this year; they escorted the group on government-issued Harleys — a definite highlight, according to Higgins.

Check out our photos of the event below, and ride out to North 15th and Wythe to get a glimpse of the big red mural.