Preface: The Colorado 600 is not to be confused with a race, and is solely a trail symposium and trail awareness trail ride intended to help save the sport of motorcycle trail riding.
When the Colorado 600 Trail Symposium rolls around, you know it’s time to hop up off of your couch, go straight into your garage and prep your iron horse for the trail. This probably won’t be just an ordinary prep… you might even polish the spokes getting ready for a prestigious ride like this one.
Fortunately, Dirt Rider was able to make it out to “Colorful Colorado” to experience firsthand what the trails and off-road groups in the area are all about, and learning along the way how to bring that motivated, never-give-up style attitude to a new or existing motorcycle club back home with the main goal of saving trails. The personalities at the event are great and individuals flocked from around the country to take part in the five-day event. From the clear blue skies, elevation changes, aspen forests, perfect dirt and the professional individuals like Don Riggle of the TPA (Trails Preservation Alliance), John Bongiovanni of COHVCO (Colorado Off-Highway Vehicle Coalition) and Stan Simpson of the AMA (American Motorcyclist Association), it was time for us to go into sponge-mode and soak up all the knowledge and scenery we could.
The CO600 is all about saving our sport one case at a time. And yes, we mean case literally, because all of your support and donations goes to organizations that are trying to save our sport. It’s expensive to respond to all the travel actions of the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management, and to go up against groups that want our trails shut down. If you’d like to share single track, or any other off-roading locations with the youngsters who are the future of our sport, then we suggest you do it now before the trails as you know them become illegal, overgrown and gone forever—or you can get active and hook up with a solid motorcycle club to make a difference. With that said, if there doesn’t seem to be a club worth putting your valuable time and money into, then it’s not a bad idea to start one of your own. Or light a fire under theirs…
Of course, and event like the Colorado 600 would never take place without the awesome support of some of the most proactive companies in the industry, including Tucker Rocky/ MSR, KTM, Dunlop, Motion Pro and Spider Grips. BRP was a major help this year as well, as they provided a killer project bike to test that you can read about here on www.dirtrider.com and also in the pages of the magazine. Of course, there will also be a full feature story on the Colorado 600 in an upcoming issue of the magazine; this is just a taste of the impact of such an awesome ride and the experience that we had while spending a week exploring with some of the most knowledgeable and active trail awareness specialists in our sport.
There was a lot to be learned throughout the week at the CO600, so here are some key points from the speeches of Stan Simpson, Don Riggle and John Bongiovanni.
Stan Simpson & the AMA:
“If the AMA had a few million members they would have a much louder voice, and what’s important for us is strength. We have only 75 or 80 full time employees. Everything that we do when it comes to land use and other issues in those regards need to be approached at a local level, and that is why organizations like the TPA and COHVCO, and folks like Don Riggle and John Bongiovanni are so adamantly important to the future of motorcycling and the AMA. What I tell everybody is that the AMA should be the guidance and the voice to speak in Washington DC. We are nothing without individual members, and that is what gives us the horsepower in Washington to make a difference.”
Don Riggle & the TPA
“So we’ve got the TPA, COHVCO and the AMA. Here is how I look at it. First of all, lots of people come to Colorado from out of state and want to ride here. I’m talking about California, Arizona, Kentucky, Kansas and Oklahoma. They come over here and use the trails, have a good time and spend just a little bit of money and leave. The local clubs are left with keeping the trails open for everyone to use….we need help from every group that comes to Colorado to ride. If you’re coming to Colorado to ride you need to belong and help us here, because if you don’t, it’s not going to last. The limited amount of single-track trails left in the state are going away fast. We need all the help we can get in keeping them open for all to use.”
John Bongiovanni & COHVCO
“The biggest issue we have right now is that we are outnumbered at least ten to one if you look at all of the active or registered people—both pro- and anti-motorized. That means there are ten times as many people out there right now that are preaching anti-motorized, as there are pro. That doesn’t necessarily mean there are ten times as many anti-motorized people; it just means that there are ten times as many people out there being vocal about it. And that is a key problem that we have. If it appears that there are ten times as many people preaching against us, then it shows the higher ups that are making decisions believe there are ten times as many anti-motorized activists. This is probably my most critical point, because the last thing I want everybody to do here today is walk away thinking of the agencies are our enemies and that they are out to get us. That is flat-out not the case. I have had many people at the Forest Services (FS) and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) come to me and say, ‘You guys need to speak up more. You’re getting the wrong idea. There should be a balance here.’ And that is coming from the agencies which shows they aren’t our enemies. They want to help us, but first we have to help ourselves so they can help us. There has to be a much more vocal group on the pro-motorized side and we are just too quiet. We’ve got to get involved and that’s what I’d like you guys to go out and preach. We have to get the word out and we have to get people involved.”
Head on over to these links to see what the different groups are all about, sign up and make donations. And keep an eye on Dirt Rider magazine for more info about the CO600!