An Amsterdam Good Time

Posted 5 years ago

When The Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride first began in 2012, word of this fun and fruitful event made its way far and wide, and into the ears of one Arne Toonen; who has hosted, nurtured, and celebrated DGR Amsterdam since its first involvement in 2013. “This is my fifth year of organizing the DGR in Amsterdam. My friend Jonas Hendrix, from La Corona Motorcycles in Barcelona, asked me to host the first edition in 2012. Unfortunately, this was two weeks prior to the ride and I had too little time to set it up, but I was very excited about the idea and noble cause. A fun coincidence was that I was nominated for ‘Best-Dressed Man’ by the Dutch Esquire that year, so it totally felt like my area of expertise.” And with that, Arne decided to dedicate his time to ensure The Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride made its way to Amsterdam the following year.

While the frivolity of dressing dapper and riding a classic two-wheeled machine is more enough to convince a distinguished rider to become a host , doing so for 5 years running requires a special kind of motivation, and for Arne, that motivation has manifested from the effects of cancer on the male role-models in his life. “In 2012 my favourite uncle was diagnosed with prostate cancer, and 6 months later my dad with colon cancer. So, every year I dedicate these rides to them. Especially the 2015 ride, I personally dedicated the ride to my dad as he died the month before the ride from cancer. So that was an emotional ride for me. My uncle is alive and kicking and he rides with us every year.”


While Arne’s father and uncle will always lie at the crux of his motivation to ride and raise funds, it’s hard to deny that there’s something truly remarkable about this particularly unique event that draws together the passion of motorcycling and dressing-to-the-nines in your finest threads. “At that time I was very much into dressing dapper. Before hearing about the DGR I wore my brogue two-tone wingtips every day and loved my three-piece tweed. And my love for vintage mopeds and motorcycles connected with everything that makes The DGR ‘The DGR’, so it all felt like my cup-of-tea. All I had to do now was work on my organizing skills.” Lucky for Arne, he found support in organisation with his pal Mike, from Mutant Machines in corralling classic and custom motorcycle enthusiasts, and Mike’s wife, Floor, takes care of the incredible photography that captures the event so gracefully through her company, Fotofloor. Aside from this core team of passionate individuals, Arne has seen assistance from a wide variety of ready-and-willing sources. “Esquire magazine has always been very supportive in helping us raise awareness and Triumph Motorcycles Holland have always provided us with some cool giveaways. Over the years, our core team of organizers has extended with more close two-wheeled friends. Jef the Chief, Big Mike and TimTom are now also part of the core team.”


“From the first time we organized it, the ride got complete out of hand regarding the number of participants. We were expecting about 35 enthusiasts that day but a 100 showed up. The second year we had 200 riders, the third we had 400 and last year we had 600 riders. I expect this year there to be around 800 or more!”


“People from all over the country come to Amsterdam to join us. The custom scene is largely represented and we’re getting more and more vintage and classic lovers every year. Ages vary from 18 to 88, so-to-speak. People attend with different motivations as well. Some just ride for fun, or to be able to ride with such a large group, but there are even more people that ride in honour of someone they love that has to deal with cancer. It’s always a motley crew of beautiful bikes, from vintage Vespa’s to choppers, vintage dirt bikes and top end café racers.” While these beautiful bikes and dapper folk make for a visually stunning event, Arne has his sights on the bigger picture, and actively works to improve the fundraising culture around this event in his city. “Every year The Netherlands is around 5th in the worldwide leaderboard, yet still only half of the registered participants actually raise funds. Thanks to Dutch payment options, we hope to make it easier for every one to raise funds so we can reach our grand goal. Unfortunately, we all know someone close that has to deal with a form of cancer. So raising funds for our noble cause is identifiable for almost every one.


And with that, the Amsterdam riding community has grown into a level of camaraderie and love that has been growing since its first event in 2013. We offer our thanks to Arne, Mike, Floor, Jef the Chief, Big Mike and TimTom as the organisers for DGR Amsterdam, all of the fine riders that make the event such a treat to view, and all of their sponsors that graciously give to show their support of the cause.

Photography by Jef Richaerts.

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