Events: Interview

Fast Freddie: Why I’m backing DGR

Race icon’s health warning

When a racing legend who stared mortality in the face each time he hit the track tells you to watch your health, it’s probably wise to listen.

Despite the superhuman feats of historic 250cc and 500cc Grand Prix World Championship crowns in the same year, Freddie Spencer has an innate awareness of what truly matters in life.

That humility was enough for the Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride organisers to approach him to be one of the charity event’s Ambassadors this year.

“I guess at 54 I’m the prime age for guys to be making sure they are healthy, or they just wanted a big name from motorsport. Either way it’s the perfect storm,” he jokes.

That’s typical of the modesty of the Louisiana rider, who held the record for being the youngest man to win the 500cc in 1983 – an accolade he held until two years ago.

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“I’ve said all along that it was all about the experience of riding fast and being at one with the bike rather than putting all the emphasis on winning or losing. Looking after yourself and being healthy is the same,” he says.

“It’s not about being better than the next guy. It’s about getting to the finish line with your physical and psychological health intact.”

Fast Freddie admits he was delighted when the DGR guys approached him to be one of the faces of this year’s global ride-out: “I was super excited because it’s such a great cause and one that represents a very real opportunity to help save lives.

“I was very lucky in my career and I’ve been lucky in life with my health. Being around motorcycles gave me a purpose and taught me so much about everything that matters in life.”

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Still haunted by a wrist injury that curtailed his career, Freddie knows only too well the importance of health and the knock-on effect it can have if the warning signs are ignored: “The time when I couldn’t ride was quite traumatic. It was a real struggle not being able to execute things I’d always taken for granted.

“In life I don’t believe I can’t do anything without preparation, but I understand that I can’t do anything without my health. That’s why it’s so important to get a simple PSA test done at the doc’s.”

He insists: “Get it done like me. It takes minutes but could give you years more riding. And let’s face it, that’s got to be a decent reason.”

Freddie, who joins Triumph Ambassador Charley Boorman as a DGR lead, plans to get dapper for DGR with 50,000 other rider of classic and vintage bikes in 500 cities across 90 countries on September 25.

Riding in races or for leisure is about being part of a team, but the most intimate team you have is your physical health and spiritual awareness

Freddie Spencer

The event will raise awareness and a target total of US$5million for the Movember Foundation’s men’s health programs.

Freddie, who plans to ride in London, says: “I met DGR founder Mark Hawwa in Sydney and he’s so driven by the whole awareness side of DGR that I had to be involved. If promoting a simple trip to the doctor saves one rider’s life, he will have years of camaraderie and joy ahead of him that he otherwise might not.

“Riding in races or for leisure is about being part of a team, but the most intimate team you have is your physical health and spiritual awareness.”

Visit www.gentlemansride.com to find out more about DGR, including how to register, donate and the location of a ride near you.