Bowties, cravats, blazers and poplin suits, and other dapper trappings will adorn the distinguished gentlefolk who will drive classic-style and vintage motorbikes in Phnom Penh’s second Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride on Sunday.
“We’re going to ride very slowly, safely, as one huge pack that will cause a sensation and stop a little traffic in the name of prostate cancer research and preventing men’s suicide,” says organiser Patrick Uong of Moto Cambodge.
The ride is part of a global campaign to raise awareness and funds for prostate cancer research and – starting this year – suicide prevention. Last year the event raised $2.3 million globally.
And while about 150 registered riders in Phnom Penh, Kampot and Siem Reap modestly accounted for about $4,000 of that, it was about as much as Malaysia’s, Vietnam’s and Indonesia’s riders combined. Phnom Penh’s riders alone fundraised nearly double Bangkok’s – and with half as many riders.
“It’s for the pageantry of it all: with our bikes and our beards and waxed moustaches,” Uong says.
If last year’s event is any indication, it will be sure to turn heads. Uong says the riders are a healthy mix of locals and expats, adding that the custom motorbike scene has grown in recent years owing to a new generation of young Cambodians looking to express their individuality in unique ways.
This year, Phnom Penh’s moto-enthusiasts are aiming for “better, not bigger”, he says.
With 100 registered riders so far, they have raised $3,700 as of last week. Uong and his team hope they will better that with their focus on a quality event featuring not just dapper gents (of both sexes) on distinctive rides but also by organising before- and after-parties.
To that end, the Clay George Trio will play classic crooner jazz on Bassac Lane on tonight to fit the “suave kind of vibe” of the event, then – following Sunday’s morning ride – Chinese House will host an afternoon of live music featuring local talent including Scott Bywater and Miss Sarawan. Accompanying the music is an all-you-can-eat barbecue for $7 a head, with half of the proceeds going to the fundraiser.
But it’s not just about the boozin’ and the cruisin’ (which should not be combined, Uong notes), but also remembering that despite the machismo of a nice bike and fancy dress “we’re all fragile and susceptible to sickness”.
According to 2016 data published by the World Health Organization, Cambodia has a suicide rate of 9 per 100,000 – nearly twice the rate of neighbouring Vietnam. Global data compiled by the WHO indicate that men commit suicide at much higher rates than women.
Prostate cancer is the second-most diagnosed form of cancer in men (after skin cancer) in developed nations, and is believed to be on the rise in the developing world.
The Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride kicks off at 8am on Sunday at Java Café, #56 Sihanouk Boulevard, and ends at 12:30pm at Chinese House. More information: www.gentlemansride.com