ISLAMABAD: A group of sharply-dressed men in three-piece suits, sporting bow-ties and cravats descended on F-9 park on Sunday for the third instalment of the Distinguished Gentlemen’s Ride (DGR), an annual event held around the globe to raise money for prostate cancer and men’s mental health.

Regaled in their Sunday best, the group rode proudly down the streets of the capital to raise awareness and funds for this worthy cause, in tandem with thousands of riders in around 600 cities across the world.

The hardware on display was quite impressive too; from legendary Triumphs to imposing Harley-Davidsons and lightning-fast Kawasakis. Even classic Piaggio scooters were represented.

Age was no bar, and riders from all age group took part in the nearly four-hour ride across the capital.

But it was more than just another bike-rally – most of the people who participated had a personal connection with their vehicles and the cause they were supporting.

“Some biker friends told me about this international ride, which was for a good cause. I registered on the website and here I am,” said Sikander Javaid, a retired army man, straddling his Harley.

In his view, such events built riders’ confidence and were an extremely healthy activity, as they encouraged camaraderie and gave riders the chance to meet people who shared similar interests and exchange new ideas and information.

The pensioner told Dawn that he had owned a 1970s model Honda 300cc motorcycle for quite some time, and had recently brought his new bike. “I haven’t taken it up to the Karakoram Highway yet, but I certainly intend to,” he said.

For Haris Aziz, the event organiser, the cause was worth supporting as it was one close to his heart.

“I lost my grandfather to prostate cancer in 2011,” he said, explaining how that loss opened his eyes to the unimaginable threat that cancer posed to all men.

A chartered accountant by profession, Mr Aziz has been dressing up to ride his scooter for three years now, and has raised a substantial amount of money for the Movember Foundation, the international charity supported by the DGR.

According to the DGR’s official website, the rides held in Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad on Sunday have generated over $2,500.

According to Mr Aziz, fundraising will remain open until Oct 8, and the DGR is well on its way to meeting its global target of raising $5 million, with over $4.3m having been raised by Sunday night.

But for some, the connection they are forging is much deeper. Mohammad Ali and his five-year-old daughter Fizza, both dressed in immaculate and matching three-piece suits, brought their family Vespa to the ride.

“This has been in my family since 1969 and belonged to my father’s uncle, but his family had abandoned it. I haven’t been able to restore it completely, but it is in working order,” he said as he proudly displayed the kiddie seat and handle bar installed specifically for his daughter.

“She is the fourth generation of my family to ride this scooter, so this is a special moment for both of us,” said Mr Ali, beaming with pride as his daughter posed for the cameras of fawning newsmen.

Published in Dawn, September 25th, 2017