The Colorado 500 as I remember it
Since I started the web page, I have posted pictures and a brief story about various years of the Colorado 500. I've decided to move all my memories and pictures of the 500 into one place and this is it.
My first exposure to the 500 was hearing a friend of mine talk about coming across the riders of the 500 in the mountains near Ouray. This was a year or so before I moved back to Gunnison. Then in 1980, while I was a city patrolman for the Gunnison PD, I had occasion to stop and question Sherm Cooper. I saw him riding out of town on West Tomichi and just had to know the story behind an old guy on a street legal dirt bike with New Jersey plates. He explained that he was looking for dirt roads or trails in the area for the Colorado 500 which would be coming through in the next few weeks. I told him I knew the routes he was looking for and offered to show them to him the next weekend. He agreed and the next Saturday, he and Big John Russell showed up and we rode the routes around Gunnison from Ohio Pass to the turn off to Lake City (Antelope and Beaver Creek drainages). The next weekend we went south and tried to find a route through to the road from Highway 50 to Lake City. We were stopped by private property but I've since been able to get through though I don't know how! On that ride I managed to overrev Big John's XR500 and bend a valve! They took the motor apart at Wally's and fixed it though in time for the ride. John never let me forget it.
What I didn't know about my first encounter with Sherm until later was that Wally Dallenbach Jr. was riding with Sherm that day but didn't have a license so he 'hid' on the back streets while I talked to Sherm. Any way, that encounter led to me meeting up with Sherm each year for the next five as the 500 came to town. Most of the time I just met him for dinner in Crested Butte on the first night of the ride. And that is how I came to be invited to ride: I was having dinner with Sherm and some of his friends when one of them asked me if I was a 500 rider. I explained that I was not, had never been invited. Sherm, put on the spot I guess, then asked me if I wanted to come the next year. Did I? I told him I would kill for the opportunity! And so it began. The next day I met Sherm and about six other guys at the Cement Creek turnoff. We rode the trail from the top of the Divide down to the Reservoir road near the Beaver Ponds. It was a serious trail and several guys had trouble on it. One of them blamed me because Sherm told them we were taking an 'easy trail' because of my limited skills! I was riding an XR500 that I'd purchased a few years before from Sherm and two things stand out about that ride: riding in cowboy boots and burning my leg when I tipped over and was trapped with my leg against the exhaust pipe!
The next summer I purchased a 'hold over' 1985 Honda XR350 (at Sherm's recomendation) and that became my ride of choice for all but five of the next fifteen Colorado 500 rides. I rode a BMW R100GSPD one year (oh, yeah, it was TOO BIG,) a Kawasaki KDX200 once, a Kawasaki KLR650 once and a Suzuki DR350 once. I also drove a chase truck, 2007 I think it was. That was actually the best of all my '500's!