DGR ’18: The Tweed for Speed

Culture

Motorbikes have moved people in the same way since 1885 when a pair of cool German cats – Gottlieb Daimler and Wilhelm Maybach – decided it would be a groovy idea to stick a petrol engine inside a bicycle.

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Wilhelm Maybach and Gottlieb Daimler


The humble motorbike has gone through many changes since then, and in 2018 every taste is catered to.

But whether or not you have a penchant for a bobber or a café racer, a flat tracker, bagger or brat, what’s been clearly excellent this year is that The Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride has moved more people than ever before to support its good causes.

Teaming again with the Movember Foundation to raise awareness of men’s mental health and prostate cancer, worldwide it’s raised $5.7 million, with 112k riders taking part.

That moves it into the realms of genuine charity phenomenon.

As we’ve done for the previous few years, we signed up as The Baffle Culture squad – any excuse to don fine attire while riding bikes to raise money is good with us!

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‘The Bafflers’ DGR 2018

Our Whatsapp group was a flurry of messages in the preceding few days, with talk of when and where to imbibe the all-important pre-ride bacon and caffeine topping the early chat charts, followed by the poll: ‘Open face or full face?’

This banter was mercilessly toppled in the latter stages as soon as questions started to fly regarding sartorial ride day selections.

I was bluffly confident at the outset, only to be knocked off my puffed up perch when new signing George clearly took the top step in the dying stages by busting out a sneak-peek of his dashing tweed-edged-velvet-collared-matching-waistcoat number.

Dammit – he’d made an impressively strong selection for his debut DGR.

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George sets the standard on debut.


On ride morning I left the house slightly later than I’d intended, and not wanting to be late for my George rendezvous a few miles outside of Cardiff, I soon discovered why riding quickly in a three-piece tweed suit and an open-face helmet is a chilly affair. Man not hot.

We rode into town at a more sedate pace, met up with a full complement of Bafflers – a hungover Salts, Sam, Andrew and his brother-in-law Paul – then headed over to the DGR meet-up spot near City Hall.

A (pretty much) oil-free meet up.

As we rode in it was clear that there were a lot more riders than last year, and we were all initially impressed with the turnout.

It was also clear that there was still only one toilet and one bacon emporium, so we spent most of our time queuing before the rider briefing.

Saying that, this was also A Good Thing for a handful of reasons:

We met Oli. Here was a guy who was clearly cut from the same wheel-fan cloth as the rest of us, so Salts wasted no time in signing him up to the Baffle squad. Salts also wasted no time in blagging a coffee off him and a bacon sandwich from Sam – the latter of which seemingly au fait with his ‘lads, lads, I’ve only got a card’ routine.
We got to watch all the bikes riding by us as they entered the fray. My particular favourites being a crew of choppers and a leopard spotted suit.


We had the opportunity to witness George getting more and more riled up by people who didn’t take note of the ‘distinguished’ brief and arrived in their normal, hi-vis, commuter riding wear. He was not amused, and this only became more overt as the day went on. (George has since informed me of his intention to write a strongly worded email: ‘Dear sirs, imagine my surprise…’)

We’re finding more and more about Oli as time goes on…



Once we’d eaten, had the rider briefing and waved goodbye to Sam – who ditched the rest of us for his ‘real friends’ to play hockey with – we saddled up and slowly rode out towards our first regroup spot out at Culverhouse Cross.

This first section always takes bloody ages, as trying to thread 300+ riders towards a PC World carpark is no small task, so we spent a good portion of time parked at each set of traffic lights.

Oli kept us all amused by revving the shit out of his BMW (pictured above) at every opportunity, and the rest of the time we good-naturedly waved and beeped as we passed cheering groups of bystanders.

I for one absolutely love it when kids look gob-smacked as we ride by, so always make sure I take the time to acknowledge them – these are the sorts of moments that shape children into motorbike fans, so the more converts the better.


We regrouped, took some photos, beeped some more horns then left in a huge swarm, only to follow a group who took a wrong turn (I couldn’t help but notice that the people we followed in the wrong direction were riding scooters – outside of mainland Europe I tend not to trust anyone riding a scooter).

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Beaming about on our bikes. 


But really it didn’t matter: we had such good fun beaming about on our bikes, chatting all the way – confirming that open-face was definitely the right winner of the previous week’s poll – scuffing roundabouts, unnecessarily revving engines, beeping horns, laughing and watching George getting more and angrier at sports bike riders wearing the wrong clothes.

We pooled up again at Barry Island, ran for comfort breaks, then buzzed back out and wound our way to Penarth where the pier was closed just for us (and 300 friends).

The best bit for me is always seeing my family at the finish – my 6-year-old looking so proud as if I’ve just won the Dakar Rally. Andrew grabbed some awesome drone footage to finish his day’s vlog and we chilled with more coffee and bacon (this time, Salts picked up the tab).

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Penarth Pier Brilliant shot by Andrew Harrison (DGR link)


This year was by far the best one I’ve been a part of, and it’s great to see the Baffle squad slowly growing. Next year is going to be brilliant – we’ve already been discussing details on Whatsapp.

‘If you can’t see Oli, you can hear him.’

It is also clear that each one of us is going to have to step up our suit game for next year – the friendly rivalry is cranking up!

Jamie Hibbard

(DGR 2018 by Andrew Harrison)

Life under the lid

Culture

 

As life seems to be racing along at an uncomfortable pace, where days, weeks and months are merging into one, I was asked by the BBC to talk about why I ride and where it all started. Something that’s still a ‘bit of a grey area’. Watching ‘David Beckham: Into the Unknown’ almost (definitely) had a part to play. There’s something about watching David cruise across South America accompanied by his closest mates on custom Triumph Bonnevilles that does it for me. With minimal hesitation and no approval from the parents, myself and Sam committed to the CBT (Compulsory Basic Training).

 

 

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Into the Unknown (BBC)

 

Being a professional cricketer, the summer comes with mixed emotions. From excitement and satisfaction, to nerves, pressure and expectation; buzzwords that are probably common across most professions. Underneath these lids (unnecessary colloquialism for helmet), there are both differences and similarities to professional and personal life.

 

Similarities? “I’m glad you asked Andrew..”

Both lids come with the same sense of the unknown. I dread to think the time we spend trying to foresee the unpredictable. As much as you prepare for various situations, be it a Sunday morning ride or facing the next opponent on the cricket field, we have to accept we’re going ‘into the unknown’. Very rarely do you see two experiences mirror one another. And that’s present in everyday life. Every time I get on the bike, the wind is different, the road surface is variable and Bill in his white van is definitely unpredictable. Every time I go into bat, the way in which the delivery is bowled and where is completely out of my control. The only thing I can do is react with my best judgement; an analogy that I believe we spend our whole lives doing. Think I’ve accidentally stumbled into a moment of philosophical genius.

 

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(Huw Evans photography)

 

This professional mask that we slide on doesn’t change who we are and how we think, how we overcome obstacles thrown into our path, celebrate success, or even how we look out for others. It’s you, it’s who you are, in any walk of life. Both lives are timeless even if certain elements are transient. Both motorcycling and cricket have been here for a long time before me and will continue to exist after me (hopefully). As much as they both are ever evolving – electric motorcycles being pushed by major manufacturers and shortened cricket formats headlining world cricket – the values, tradition and skill still remain prominent.

 

Where does the professional and personal life divide?

As I’m performing a mental Q&A in the local coffee shop, it does actually provide a different and worthwhile moment of reflection.

For me, riding provides a life outside of cricket (work), it provides me with the opportunity to meet people from different professions, backgrounds and cultures. It’s a life of little expectation and complete freedom. The only expectation is ‘to come back in one piece’ as directed by mum, which of course, is absolutely the most important factor.

 

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‘Baffle’ Boys

 

As I’m slowly creeping towards escapism (yes, I’ve stumbled across a new word), I think lots of people seek a personal venture to put life’s harsh demands to one side. A great example I remember is watching two of my South African teammates go fly fishing in the nearest river after six hours of cricket played that day. A vehicle they’ve chosen to relieve some of the stress and pressure that comes part and parcel with professional sport. There’s a perception that playing a professional sport is a dream job, and I undoubtedly don’t deny that. I play the sport I love and get to travel the world whilst doing so.

On a bit of a tangent… Sometimes, I believe ‘we’ lose a sense of reality. We lose a sense of what is actually important, and that can turn this dream job into a stressful and emotional rollercoaster. ‘Winning and performing on the pitch is the only thing that matters in life’ becomes the unfortunate mantra many professionals have to deal with. With your daily performance under the public microscope and often scrutinized, this psychological outlook can be blown out of proportion. I was lucky to be part of an academy based in Australia led by cricketing legend Darren Lehmann, where he spoke confidently about where cricket should lie in your life priorities.  I think it surprised everyone who was sitting attentively in the room that it wasn’t considered number one. Family, friends, health came first… the list went on. Major strings to life that he believed mattered most.

 

What is important in your life?

 

Maybe I was on a subconscious journey to find a metaphorical vehicle to get away and stumbled across two wheels and an engine – not so metaphorical after all.

 

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Riding the Bobber Black (Bevan Triumph)

 

What is it about motorcycling?

Surely you don’t need a 1000cc V twin between your legs to ‘get away’ from the real world? Of course not, but If you’re a bit weird like me then it helps. For me, riding helps me think. But in saying that, I think it does the exact opposite. It helps me ‘power-down’. As other riders will know, you have no other option but to focus on the road (and no, I’m not just writing that because my mum reads these). When you’re on the bike with little to think about apart from the sound of the engine, the gear you’re in and how you’re looking to take the next corner, it’s a breath of fresh air for the mind. No one can call you and more importantly let your phone distract you.

The initial buzz of jumping on my first bike (and it’s here I wish I could tell you it was a 1000cc sports bike, but in fact sounded and resembled something similar to my dad’s lawnmower), still puts a smile on my face to this day.  It’s that lawnmower that has led me to ride over ten different bikes to date (and counting), I think.

 

Is there a conclusion?

Upon reflection, in a perpetual motion of contracting thoughts, riding has given me an amazing opportunity to travel along some of the best roads in the world and meet some even better people; a pretty weighty argument to outweigh the risk involved. With off-road riding, track days, expeditions to ride the Himalayas, South America, USA and Europe slowly creeping into the bucket list, the future is exciting.

 

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And Baffle Culture? We’re slowly getting closer to getting some rides sorted this summer to bring some fellow legends together to share what we love. There might even be a refreshing beverage along the way.

 

Andrew Salter
Baffle Culture

LANE BOMBING

Culture

I spent the first 16 years of my life living in a tiny village near Bath. In the hazy summer months I’d be outdoors, climbing trees, building dens, and riding bikes. I loved anything with two wheels – mountain bikes, BMX, and the local farmer kids’ ‘scramblers’.

One of my strongest enduring memory strands is of rides through the country lanes on my BMX. Near where I used to live, it was possible to ride for miles and miles without seeing another human.

At the time it didn’t even occur to me to wonder why I felt so strongly about it, but now it’s obvious – that was my first proper taste of freedom.

 

 

 ‘a punker on a Clunker’

Being able to run around fields was great, but to feel the world cruising by on two wheels changed my entire life.

I chased that feeling of freedom for a long time. I ended up on mountain bikes, which lead me to doing work experience at Mountain Biking UK magazine, which in turn gave me my first job and the start of my career. That took me around the world, riding in amazing places – the most notable being two thrilling weeks riding in the primo destinations of California with the inventors of mountain biking: Joe Breeze, Gary Fisher, Charlie Kelly (pictured) and so on. I can still remember a caption of me riding one of the first ever mountain bikes: ‘a punker on a Clunker’.

Then I got into heavy metal, drinking, going to gigs, and basically destroying myself doing all of the wrong things in the pursuit of rock ‘n’ roll hedonism, while at the helm of Metal Hammer magazine. I completely forgot about bikes (and most everything else, truth be told).

I spent over ten years away from two wheels, and I now really regret the time away.

But you live and learn.

 

 

In 2011 I moved to Wales for love – married, three kids, living near the beach. All things I’ve spent my life looking for.

And finally a return to bikes – only this time, with engines.

Getting onto a motorbike was something I’d banged on about forever but had never really attempted to make real. Then my wife – fed up with all talk and no action – bought me a CBT day for my birthday, and as soon as I’d passed that I knew I had to get my full licence – a 125 (cc) was never going to be enough.

The same things that had thrilled me in my youth were once again reignited – there’s no freedom I’ve found so far that’s quite like it.

Life is very cyclical by nature for me, but it’s taken me until my fifth year on motorbikes to really fall in love with riding the lanes again. I’m obsessed with it right now.

 

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Harley Davidson Roadster 1200cc

 

I live an average ride away from work of about 45-minutes. There’s a quicker route – not including the motorway – that I can do in under half an hour with a fair wind, but recently I’ve started looking for the long cut lane route. I’ve not been looking it up on a map, but just following my nose. I’ve found some amazing, practically deserted roads that are so good for my mental health of a morning/evening that I’m addicted to revisiting them over and over.

Rather than fighting traffic in the hustle and bustle of tin can drivers, I’m on my own riding between fields of corn and cattle (and sheep obviously – I live in Wales).

My biggest concern for that section of the commute is whether or not there’s a tractor parked around the corner, so I just chill and suck in the scenery. It’s amazing. My days of working in London are such a a hazy memory, overwritten by a tranquil transition.

 

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There’s a general movement and acceptance of mental health being something we can finally talk about, and although I don’t think I’ve got anything to write home about personally on that level, riding motorcycles certainly helps with my wellbeing. It’s a good way to block out the shit and get centred.

Johnny Utah: “You’re not going to start chanting or anything, are ya?”
Bodhi: “I might!”

Jamie Hibbard

An Exclusive Interview with: The Cafe Racer

Q&A

 

 

 

 

Win a part of Motorcycle history!

 

‘I heard The Cafe Racer were giving away a piece of history so we thought we’d have a chat to out find out a little more including some exciting developments regarding their new store! !’

 

Riding season is getting closer by the day (not that I’m counting). It’s time to remove the trickle charge from the over polished, mollycoddled, love of your life. Yes, you know the one. The one with a set of spoked wheels, a lovely powder coat and an exhaust note that sends shivers down your spine. With a press of a button, that small spark ignites a passion that has been brewing for the past six months, it’s time to ride.

 

There’s nothing more inviting than indulging in a catalogue of new state-of-the-art gear. I’m really not being biased when I say The Cafe Racer (TCR) has an incredible range of motorcycle gear to suit everyone’s style and taste. TCR is offering the chance to win the first Belstaff Streamliner 400 jacket produced, number 1 of 400. It’s the chance to own your own piece of motorcycle culture, first off the production line. Something to impress people with at your next ride out.

 

 

TCR2

 

 

With its ever-growing catalogue and the ability to satisfy the tastes of bikers across the world, TCR has recently moved themselves into a new HQ to grow their current operation to even more customers across the globe. Something we at Baffle Culture are extremely excited about!

 

I was very fortunate that Rory Milton gave me his time to talk about the waves TCR are making in the motorcycle space, fast becoming one of the stand out establishments for all your biking needs. I was lucky enough to get to ask Rory a couple of questions (all above the belt of course) about their rapid success. Find out below what got talking about!

Blinded by Choice

Culture
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With so many bikes out there to choose from, nailing down just one is a difficulty in itself.
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For the last two years, I found myself in the rather enviable position of somehow being a brand ambassador for Harley-Davidson. Now, this is a grandiose term for what in all intents and purposes meant that they gave me motorcycles to ride and write about.

Trust me, it is not something to be knocked. In fact, it was bloody great. However, they decided that this year they didn’t want me, and I’ve been left out to pasture like one of Donald Trump’s MAGA hats at a Jeremy Corbyn rally.

Which is somewhat stressful.

 

 

They say that moving house is right up there with the most stressful things one can do. And they’d be right – I’ve just done it, with a family of five, and I can indeed confirm that it sucked the most of anything I’ve ever done that sucked.

Having that many enormous moving parts completely out of my control was more than I could handle, to the point that I got ill from the stress and driven to uncomfortable bed for six days afterwards with myriad illnesses.

Suffice to say, I shan’t be doing it again anytime soon.

However, what I have got to now do is face up to that thorny, other most stressful thing, and choose my next motorcycle… Now what you may be asking yourself is how come I’ve left that decision so late, when we’re this close to spring an’ all?

Well, one of the reasons is that blasted house move – its fund-sucking nature shows no sign of abating any time soon – and the other one is that: man’s never hot.

 

 

Allow me to explain…

 

I’m a cold human. It’s dogged me for my whole life. I got in trouble at high school once upon discovering they expected that I should dive onto a frozen solid pitch in the middle of winter with bare legs for something called ‘rugby practice’: ‘You, sir, are having a laugh.’ I decided that I would only do such a thing if I were wearing a pair of joggers.

I got sent back to change. Then I got a detention.

Now as an adult, I still suffer that indignity of coldness in ‘man situations’ on a regular basis. One’s judged on levels of strength and toughness by one’s ability to stay warm in cold conditions, so I never stack up well.

I even let myself down in mundane situations such as getting off a train. Once, I put my arm out the window to open the door at a station, only to watch as my wedding ring slipped from my cold-shrunken finger, bounced off the platform edge and disappeared onto the tracks. I had to get someone with an embarrassingly long grabber hand to retrieve it for me when the train had gone.

I look to be a perpetual weakling.