A Story About the Colorado 500 Motorcycle Ride

“Do you believe in magic? . . . . “It’s like trying to tell a stranger ‘bout rock-n-roll” c. Loving Spoonful. That’s what it’s like trying to describe the Colorado 500 to a non-participant. I’ve given up trying to describe it to a non-motorcyclist. I’ve ridden the dirt ride something like 24 years and the street ride I think 14 times. (The second thing that goes is your memory – I forgot what the first was).
Anyway, as I try to recount our adventures on the street ride, I struggle with the real essence of the ride – the spirit, the camaraderie, the friendships that I have developed. All from four days of riding with people that I may not see for another year, or may bump into at a race track somewhere, or ski our butts off together, or see how fast the rental snowmobiles will go or practice hand brake turns in our rental cars. You get the idea – classic type-A personalities. It’s not the amount of time we spend together, it’s the quality, the intensity.
Since it is so hard to convey feelings by the written word, or describe the smell of the Douglas fir as we sweep around yet another fast corner, I’m reduced to telling you what we did, so maybe the “non-believer” can understand how we feel. What we did, was travel to country that most of us had never seen before – to Northern New Mexico. Country that is rich in Indian, Spanish, New-Age, and Anglo culture and heritage. Country that is the land of the Anazasi, “The Milagro Bean Field War,” the Unser family, the Vietnam War Memorial, Michael Martin Murphy, Los Alamos, the Atomic bomb, two of the greatest art centers in the world, the Apache, the Mountain Ute, the Hopi, the Dallenbachs. In short, it was hard to ride because there was so much to see and do – but ride we did. ON and ON and ON. To see what was over the next horizon, around the next corner, beyond that little rain shower, through the desert valley. “No matter where you go, there you are.”
There were a few glitches, but to 500 riders, they were opportunities, not problems. A few folks got to room with people that they hadn’t met before – not strangers on the ride, strangers. What happened? New friends. One couple did have problems staying aboard their cycle – a Honda ST 1100. First, they were stopped for speeding. When the “driver” got off the motorcycle to “schmooze” the County Mountie, he put down the sidestand, leaned the bike over, and got off. What he forgot was that the ground has to be beneath the sidestand in order for it to work. It wasn’t. There we stood and watched his ST as it gracefully fell over into a rock pile. Being the resourceful Colorado 500 rider that he was however, after the four or more of us righted his cycle, he whipped out his duct tape (naturally, color coordinated to his black motorcycle), and performed band aid surgery. Soon we were ready to go. However, we can’t end this little sage without noting that his buddy, who had been riding first, had just waved him by as his radar detector suggested the County Mountie was nearby. What are friends for?
The next get-off was unfortunately more serious – remember these things can bite. Our “road rocket” was sweeping through a fast left hander, when he got a bit wide, into the “marbles”, and ended up in a “tank slapper.” The wife, she was “flying through the air with the greatest of ease.” I happened to be the first bike behind them and so I stopped. The “driver” appeared fine, but I couldn’t find his wife. H’mm. The side of the road dropped off quickly, into a meadow of high grass – “Strawberry Fields forever…” No wife. Wait! There’s a rustling in the grass – a snake, a coyote? You guessed it, a wife. “What are you doing down there, are you OK?” Of course I’m OK, I’ve had to go to the bathroom all morning. Seemed like a good spot, since I was down here.” Whew, was I relieved (bad pun).
This time we did serious damage to the duct tape. Mirrors, windshield, side covers, etc, etc. When we were done (I say we, because every Colorado 500 rider stops to help his buddy, and we gathered a large number of buddies), the “driver” was chauffeuring one of the slickest band aid jobs you have ever seen. It was no longer duct tape, it was racer’s tape! Mama had made it up the hill and we decided that we would let the “driver” take his racer’s tape on a test ride into the next town. Bike was great, “driver” was fine, and we had a wonderful lunch, pit racing the events of the morning.
Or the time at the marina-Apache Reservoir, where the “road warriors” dueled it out with ice cream cones (sorry Pepi, no pie), while basking in the summer sun. Or the “tight-lipped” Buell rider whose high tech creation pooped out and he walked around it for hours, refusing to talk to anyone (remember, we were in Indian country – perhaps a war dance would help). Or another “High-techie” among us also pooped out in the middle of nowhere – but he got it fixed with screw drivers and bailing wire – unfortunately not in time to attend the cocktail party he sponsored. Thanks, Jim, we sure enjoyed the hors d’ouevres.
The “shop tell you drop” crowd were in Virgin country (I use that term loosely – another bad pun). Crystals, world class art, and jewelry – buy, buy, buy, charge, charge, charge. Anyway, we learned why so many women prefer Gold Wings – storage capacity. The trip back from Taos to Red Mountain was sort of like the St. Patrick’s Day parade, with plastic bags of every color tied on, hooked on, and held on. Some Gold Wingers were really pros at this – their tanks were full and they had bags tied everywhere. It was a built in speed governor – if you went too fast, the bags ripped, and one of our crowd was picking up treasures for a half-mile.
Pie. I tease Wally and Pepi about it every year. Little did I know. I bought one of the chase vehicles after the 500 in the fall – I’m still getting the pie crust out of the seat cushions – UMM, UMM, Good.
Hopes for the future? Neil Diamond has sponsored two cocktail parties. Perhaps he will get to ride with us one of these years. Next year it’s back to Durango!