Next Thursday up to 300 motorcyclists will descend on Dawson City for the 29th gathering of Dust 2 Dawson Motorcycle Ride.
Dick Van Nostrand, a long time Dawsonite, helps organize the gathering. He’s been involved since almost the beginning.
“We had just bought the Downtown Hotel in Dawson City in 1995, when I met some guys up from Anchorage on a lark and going for a ride. We all enjoyed motorcycles and it was fun to hang out with them at the hotel,” he says.
Van Nostrand was inspired by the riders’ journey, bought a new bike and soon after and met his new friends in Alaska to ride back to Dawson with them.
Eventually, they started talking about holding an annual event.
“We thought we should call it something, talked about how dusty the ride to Dawson could be, and decided to call it Dust 2 Dawson,” he says.
The following year, in 1987, Van Nostrand decided to reserve the dining room of his hotel in order to hold a banquet dinner during the gathering weekend and ended up with about a dozen participants.
Eventually, he says, the gathering outgrew the dining room, so he added on an outdoor deck, which soon became too small as well. As the event gained popularity and more people joined in, Van Nostrand booked the conference room, which has a maximum capacity of 65 people. A few years later, he had to move the banquet to the Palace Grand Theatre, which holds up to one 150 people, and for the last five years he’s been booking the hockey arena.
“Last year, there were approximately 260 booked for our banquet steak dinner,” he says.
The gathering took off, Van Nostrand says, after they posted an invitation on the website Adventure Rider.
“We posted on the site and the whole thing just exploded. It used to be mostly Alaskans, but now people come from all over the world.”
Van Nostrand emphasizes that nothing about the gathering is formal or official. He bristles at the word rally and emphasizes the weekend is more about meeting old friends and making new friends in the friendly atmosphere of Dawson City.
Most riders show up and gather informally on Thursday. On Friday, there are activities available. The Poker Run starts at noon, a silent auction runs all day, the banquet is around 6 p.m., and after the banquet, there are the Street Games, which include skill testing events such as slow riding around cones, blindfold riding, the wiener bob and many more. The games are held in the parking lot of the Triple J Hotel. The finale, the posting of that year’s decal on the bikes and group picture, takes place at midnight, just after the games.
By the next day, it’s all over and most of the riders are on their way.
Van Nostrand no longer owns the Downtown Hotel, but the riders he met there in the beginning, as well as many others over the years, have become personal friends.
“I like being a host,” he says. “My house becomes a hangout.”
It’s great fun, he adds, mostly because there is no structure to it.
“A rally is too groupie and formal,” he says with a twinkle in his eye. “This is a gathering of like-minded motorcycle enthusiasts.”
For more information on Dust 2 Dawson, go ADVRider.com, check out the Facebook page, or email Dick Van Nostrand at TheDick@me.com.