This is the story of how I cashed in my Delta miles for a one-way ticket to Oklahoma City to buy a used Triumph motorcycle from a rock-and-roll youth pastor and rode it 1,636 miles back to New York.
It’s also the story of how I brought some amazing people together to transform that dust-filled bike into a gorgeous Steve McQueen inspired cafe racer and how more than 92,000 moto-enthusiasts from 56 countries got together yesterday to raise over $4.4 Million for the Movember Foundation.
Every year since we started in 2009, Alister & Paine Magazine has supported one non-profit or another through in-kind donations of our products and services. In the past we’ve donated to organizations close to our heart like The Access Fund and Livestrong. This year we decided to support The Movember Foundation by way of participating in The Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride (DGR). The money raised goes towards prostate cancer biomedical research and initiatives to support men’s mental health and suicide prevention.
We donated over $25,000 in content marketing and advertising services to help raise awareness of The Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride mission and interviewed their founder and CEO, Mark Hawwa, on alisterpaine.com.
In order to participate in the ride, though, I needed a bike that fit the bill.
FINDING A DONOR BIKE FOR THE BUILD
I managed to find a relatively affordable 2014 Triumph Bonneville T100 to ride in the 2017 Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride. The only problem was its location on the border of Texas and Oklahoma in a town aptly named Texoma. I journaled about my three day adventure each night on Instagram. If you’re interested in reading those entries you can find them below.
Motorcycle Diary. Day 1. Praise Jesus & Ride Motorcycles.
I woke up around 3AM this morning with the lights of midtown Manhattan shining in through my apartment windows. A quick shower, shave and kiss and I Ubered to the airport where I caught a flight to Oklahoma City by way of Atlanta. I made it to Tornado Ally by noon and the rain was coming down in buckets. I was buying a Triumph Bonneville T100 sight unseen and riding it back to New York for two main reasons… Continue reading on Instagram
Motorcycle Diary. Day 2. There’s Never Enough Nashville.
Today’s adventure started off with rain, again. After about thirty minutes of trying to put up with the shards of rain slicing my face I decided to do the only reasonable thing a man alone on a motorcycle does in Arkansas on a Saturday morning. I went to Waffle House. Good googly moogly that place is something else. My grits were floating in a sea of butter and the bacon! The bacon is so thin it’s like they took one thick cut piece of bacon and… Continue reading on Instagram
Motorcycle Diary. Day 3. Cold or Cold and Wet.
Today was the longest day. Physically, mentally, and literally. Since Friday afternoon I’ve ridden 1,636 miles from Oklahoma City to New York. My body is numb. My ears are ringing. And I’ve been home for hours. I started the day on the border of Tennessee and Virginia. I rode through the cold, and the rain, in Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania and, finally, New York. The cold, combined with the constant vibration of the Triumph, brought splintering pain… Continue reading on Instagram
BUILDING THE ALISTER & PAINE BONNIE
Thanks to A&J Cycles we were able to turn this virtually stock 2014 Triumph Bonneville into a black and brown cafe racer with cleaner lines and a little extra power in only eight hours (video below).
We got most of the parts from the awesome guys at British Customs and Herm at Dime City Cycles. The front end needed some serious clean up which was accomplished with a short front fender which we kept in a raw aluminum finish, the Low Profile Headlight Bracket, Satin Black Headlight Assembly with a DCC Originals LED Headlight, Low Profile Gauge Relocation Bracket, LSL clip-on handlebars, chocolate colored Biltwell Thruster Grips, and black DCC Originals Bar End Mirrors.
One of the biggest visual changes came from swapping out that stock exhaust (with slip-ons that the previous owner had welded on) with these gorgeous drag pipes from British Customs. Not only did that make the bike look cleaner but it completely changed the way she sounds in a BIG way. To help add a little bit more power and clean things up some more Brian and Jason added the Air Box Removal Kit and Air Injection Removal Kit from British Customs.
To clean up the rear end they completely removed the rear fender, added this Motone Fender Eliminator Kit, and swapped out the stock seat for the Slammer Seat from British Customs (the brown color matches the Biltwell grips perfectly).
They also swapped out the rear sprocket, put a new–lighter weight (and non-rusted)–chain on, replaced the rear shocks, cleaned the front fork gaskets of debris, and put on some new tires. All-in, I think they dropped about thirty pounds of unnecessary weight off the bike and made her look like a bike worth way more than it cost!
CUSTOM LIVERY FROM TUKI
The finishing touches were two hand-painted side covers by Travis “TuKi” Hess (click the link to watch a video of him hand painting the side covers!). Personally, I love pinstriping and hand lettering. I can watch Instagram videos of guys like TuKi all day long.
I decided the bike–and I–already had a bit of a motto after the adventure we’d been on together and had recently discovered the latin phrase “Auribus teneo lupum” which means “I grab the wolf by the ears”. To quote Mentalfloss, the phrase “comes from Phormio (c.161BC), a work by the Roman playwright Terence—was once a popular proverb in Ancient Rome. Like “holding a tiger by the tail,” it is used to describe an unsustainable situation, and in particular one in which both doing nothing and doing something to resolve it are equally risky.”
Sounds about right.
WHAT IT TAKES TO BE NAMED THE “MOST DAPPER” IN NEW YORK CITY’S DGR
There was some fierce competition out there and if I couldn’t join the ranks of the biggest fundraisers (I barely made Top 100, which goes to show how awesome guys like Vincent Nikolai are at raising money for the DGR) than I had better at least place for looking good!
The suit is from Alton Lane, a premium bespoke tailor with showrooms in a dozen cities across the country. I chose a lighter weight wool/silk/linen blend from Scabal’s St. Tropez collection which turned out to be a good choice since it was ninety degrees in the city yesterday.
On an ordinary day I may have been over-accessorized but this was no ordinary day. For cufflinks I rocked some Ox & Bull Silver & Gold Day of the Dead Skulls from cufflinks.com. On my hands I went all out with eight custom rings from jewelers I scoured the world (ok, I scoured Etsy and Instagram) for. The rings came from Rough Design Co, Black Rock Jewel, Joel Muller, JM Custom Skull Rings, and Hi Octane.
SHOP THE LOOK
THE CROWNING TOUCH
DGR sponsor and British motorcycle helmet manufacturer, Hedon, sent me this gorgeous Hedonist helmet in with a silver foiled finish for the ride and asked me to find a local artist to give it a custom touch.
In keeping with the theme of the bike, I found Jon from Handsigns who hand lettered the bike’s motto across the cap of the helmet. Jon’s work is incredible. I was able to visit his studio in Crown Heights to see some of his other projects and it seriously just makes me want to add hand lettering to everything I own. He really took an already beautiful helmet to the next level.
Of course, everyone always notices the goggles (which I couldn’t even wear before I got LASIK last month).
I first saw these goggles in a picture of Chris Runge driving one of his aluminum bodied Frankfurt Flyers and it’s one of the things you simply can’t substitute with anything else. These authentic British WWII fighter pilot inspired goggles from Halcyon really completed the cafe racer look.
A SMASHING SUCCESS
All in all, my first Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride was a resounding success.
As a company, Alister & Paine Magazine was able to support a great charity and donated more than $25,000 in services to raise awareness for the cause. As a global event the statistics are staggering. More than 92,000 moto-enthusiasts from 56 countries raised nearly $4.5 Million for prostate cancer biomedical research and to support men’s mental health and suicide prevention. Plus, I got to dress to the nines with a thousand other gents in New York City and have the NYPD block traffic for us while we toured through Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens.
A huge thank you goes out to every single company and individual who helped us pull off the most successful Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride, yet. It wouldn’t have been possible without you!