Why I'm Riding Solo: Eric Hansen

Posted 2 years ago
2020 might be a solo event for our riders, but riding in groups isn't the only good thing about DGR. Most get involved to dress in their best and ride, but what we are riding for is men's health - and the need for funding cancer research and men's mental health programs haven't stopped because of COVID. If anything, now it the most important time for us to band together and remember why we ride.

Dapper Gentlefolk of DGR, we'd like to introduce you to Eric Hansen, from London, UK. Eric is a long-time rider in DGR, taking part as a chance to dress up, look good, and ride with an incredible group of people in his city. But more recently, the cause has become the most important aspect of the event and is why and he and his daughter will be Riding Solo, Together this year.

"I've been riding in The Distinguished Gentleman's Ride since it's first year in London. The past two years, I have participated in the West London Ride (for a bit of a change). When I started, I did it primarily because it seemed like a cool ride-out. And I had a bike (and the wardrobe) for that sort of thing. The crowds were great and it quickly became a regular part of my calendar. The charity side of it didn't mean that much to me, to be honest. I did my part, raised money - nothing amazing, but still enough where I felt like it might be helping people, so that was cool too."
"In late July before the most recent ride (2019), I was admitted to hospital on an emergency basis and was diagnosed with stage 4 cecal cancer (a type of bowel cancer). It had spread to my lymph nodes and to my liver. I had no symptoms other than a very high fever and stomach pains, I had no previous warnings at all. They performed surgery to remove the cecal mass the night I was taken to hospital. Had they not operated, I'd have been dead by the next day. Incidentally, the surgeon who saved my life is a biker as well. I'm not saying that biker surgeons are better than other surgeons… but given the choice, go with the biker."
"I was in ICU for a week. I lost more than two stone in weight. The initial prognosis was that I had six months to live. I was 51 years old at the time. Before I was in the hospital, my motorcycle was having a sidecar fitted. My plan had been to take my daughter (11 years old at the time) on the ride in September. I decided I would do my best to recover in time to do the ride with her. We did the ride last September. There was a talk from one of the representatives before the ride about the charity. While the talk was going on, my daughter started quietly crying. I don't think anyone noticed, as we were off near the back of the crowd. The ride completely changed its meaning for me. It became more than a chance to show off my bike and have a laugh. I understood then what it was really about."
"We bought some DGR lapel pins at the ride. My daughter's school lets her wear it on her uniform. It's a memory she'll always have. For this, I am truly grateful..."
"My chemo is going okay. My prognosis is now years longer. And I have plans to extend that even further. I'm convinced that cancer is no gentleman and I will not readily lose to it. I was looking forward to the ride this year. I'll be doing it as a solo run (with my daughter again). I'll miss the gathering and the camaraderie and the great joy that your initiative has brought to me over the years. I'm saddened for the event too, that due to the obvious pandemic circumstances, you can't (in good conscience) organise group rides. But here's the plus side, and a message for all of the riders who are disappointed as well - especially those who are in a similar struggle to mine. Whether it's cancer, or mental struggles, or whatever:
I'm pushing my goals forward, and you can too. Live happy and long enough to do it again in 2021, and further. Take this an opportunity to take a short-term goal and make it into a long-term one as well, however you can.
As for this year, if you see some idiot in tweed with his daughter in a sidecar (likely with a dog wearing goggles), you can point and laugh if you like, but I'll be the happiest guy you see that day. Enjoying my life and my bike and raising money for DGR."
Thank you. Stay safe and, above all, stay dapper.
Sent with sincere best wishes.
I remain,
Eric Hansen"
Thank you for reaching out to us and allowing us to share your story, Eric. If anyone of our dapper riders in the London area sees you and your daughter dressed in tweed and riding solo together for men's health, we encourage them to give you a wave and a smile.

Related Articles