There’s just something about a man in a suit.
Especially when he’s riding a rare vintage or classic-styled motorcycle, such as Jim Oden’s 2013 Triumph Bonneville—which looks exactly like the original Triumph made in 1959, aside from a
bit of modernization such as fuel injectors, and is “customized to the max, but not overdone. Just one of a kind,” he says. Or Greenville native Joe Barnes’s 1972 BSA Thunderbolt, a rare model that’s “a survivor” from the last year the renowned British manufacturer produced bikes, and which was originally Barnes’s late father’s. Barnes got his license on it, and it became his graduation present. He’s completely restored it over the past year.
This distinct brand of unparalleled, masculine swagger—and even more so, the opportunity to celebrate the tradition of dapper style with attention to classic details—is the allure of the Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride (DGR), an international charity event that raises awareness and funds for the Movember Foundation, the largest organization to exclusively serve men’s health initiatives such as prostate cancer and suicide prevention.
Gentlemen, Start Your Engines // Joe Barnes and James “Jim” Oden orchestrated Greenville’s first Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride, a global initiative to raise funds and awareness of men’s health issues.
Held the last Sunday of September each year in cities from Singapore to Slovakia to Sydney, this year’s DGR boasted 57,477 registered riders and has raised more than $3.5 million. In order to maintain the integrity of the ride, the route details are kept secret until you register and sign a waiver on the official site. The ride is free, but each rider is given a pro le and can set a fundraising goal to share with family and friends upon registration.
DGR motorcycled its way through the streets of Greenville for the first time on September 25 thanks to Oden, a retired manufacturing manager who made his way to the Upstate by way of Shreveport and then Texas, the official local host who organized the 17-mile ride along with the help of his co-host and friend, Barnes.
The two had met at a local bike shop and bonded over their shared bucket-list dream of riding in a DGR. Aside from their joint efforts in remodeling vintage British bikes and their shared passion for the “freedom” of riding they both developed as kids, their efforts in bringing DGR to town had a lot to do with the formation of their close friendship.
They only had four weeks to plan, but they pulled it together with enthusiasm and support. The United States ranks rst for DGR riders in the world with more than 9,000 participants; Greenville finished in the top 50 cities in the U.S. for number of riders and raised $3,000.
When asked about what constitutes a distinguished gentleman, Oden says, “It’s about character. A gentleman wants to leave the Earth in a better place than when he came in it. He wants to help. He loves to help. Pretty much that’s what it’s all about: thinking of someone else before yourself.
“Next year we are going to go hard. I don’t want to turn anyone away—borrow a bike or volunteer. Even if we have ve riders, let’s keep the integrity of the ride. Distinguished. That’s what it’s all about.”