Colorado 500 ride fires up Tuesday |

Colorado 500 ride fires up Tuesday

Tim Mutrie

The 25th anniversary Colorado 500 motorcycle ride, one of the nation’s premier off-road tours, kicks off with a roaring start Tuesday morning in Basalt.

Some 325 off-road motorcycle enthusiasts are expected to participate in the anniversary ride, which gets under way at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday morning in Basalt. Over the next six days, the riders will venture over to Crested Butte on their way to Ouray for two days, before following the same route back from Crested Butte to Basalt.

“It’s all about raising money for the towns we pass through,” explained Janet Lohman, ride coordinator. “All in all, this year we’re reaching the one million mark in terms of money we’ve taken in and given out to different charity organizations in the town’s the ride passes through. We’re pretty excited about that, and it’s all from donations from our riders.”

The Colorado 500 began in 1980, when Basalt’s Wally Dallenbach just retired from a successful career in auto racing. With a small group of motor sports friends joining Dallenbach on a motorcycle tour of the Western Slope, the Colorado 500 ride has grown over the years to attract participants from all over the globe.

“While we have our fair share of celebrities, the Colorado 500 is primarily an event for average Americans who share our love of the Rockies, (off-road) recreation and motorcycle trail riding, and our commitment to support Colorado schools, civic organizations and deserving students.”

Locally, the Colorado 500 will donate $7,500 to schools in Basalt, as well as several thousand more to Aspen schools. The Colorado 500 will donate a total of $20,000 to communities it passes through this year, Lohman said.

“We started the (Colorado 500) Charity Fund in 1981 and have been able to raise enough money to support a wide range of worthwhile organizations in Western Colorado,” said Dallenbach, who lives on the Fryingpan River. “In recent years, the Charity Fund has given substantial support to the U.S. Forest Service. This year, the two active grants are $75,000 to repair the Double Top Trail and $19,000 for the repair of the Timberline trail. This is in addition to the hundreds of hours Colorado 500 volunteers spend clearing and maintaining trails that are enjoyed by hikers, mountain bikers and others, as well as off-road motorcycle riders.”

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