story and photography by Dr. Gregory W. Frazier
[This Fourth Colorado Honda VTX Ride was originally published in the July 2007 issue of Rider magazine]
Fun. That was the word most often used when VTX Rally Riders were asked to describe their annual rumblings in the Colorado Rocky Mountains. When you saw their smiles and listened to them laughing, there was no doubt that monster 1,300cc and 1,800cc Honda cruiser riders know how to have two-wheeled fun.
Even as a BMW was besting a deep field of VTX competitors in the Slow Ride Event, the VTXers on the sidelines were having fun, cheering on both the Beemer rider and their VTX pals. In the end a VTX won, but the second-place Bavarian machine pilot was cheered just as loudly as the winner.
The Fourth Colorado VTX Ride-In July was mixed with riding, tire kicking, competition, joshing and seminars. It was also a mix of marques. Sprinkled among the mega-cc Honda cruisers were what some would consider outsiders at other marque-specific motorcycle rallies. Harley-Davidson and BMW riders were not only welcomed, but they claimed they had more fun with the VTXers than they did at their own brand-specific rallies. A Harley-riding entrant lost a sidestand and had to admit that no VTXers made any disparaging remarks, one even got him to a welder to make repairs. He did say that he felt he was watched more closely than the Honda riders, as though they were waiting to see what else would fall from his York-made iron. His lady passenger laughed, hit him on the shoulder, then said, “Not true, they were looking at me, they don’t care about your motorcycle.” That brought a round of laughs from everyone standing close enough to hear.
During the rally the attendees could choose among several optional daily riding routes. Motorcycle “Pass-Baggers” lined up early each morning to drool over such routes as Trail Ridge, Independence Pass and Mount Evans. Then there were longer romps like the Million Dollar Highway out of Silverton. If the attendees wanted to join a group doing a midrange loop they could log 300-500 miles through Steamboat Springs or the Royal Gorge. And then there were the oddly named routes like Pigtails and Pipes, Ride and Raft, and Curves and Canyons. A shorter ride, called the “Old Fart’s Route,” was a kinder, gentler ride with photo-ops and sightseeing the priority. For the big riders, there was an overnight ride as well.
When looking at these motorcycles, often highly customized, the first impression was that they were made for show and not go. For this group of VTX owners that was not true. No matter how radically the Honda had been modified, the focus was on riding, because the owners said they liked “to go, not just show.”
As event organizer Cliff Meier explained, “We’re a collection of motorcycle owners from across the United States who like riding over repairing. Some of us may trick out our bikes, but at this rally you’ll find the parking lot empty during the day. Participants are here to ride. We shut down the registration and information center during the day so our volunteers can get out on the roads.”
After one group found sleet and freezing cold on a day ride over 12,000-foot-high Rocky Mountain passes, their bikes came back to the event headquarters far less shiny than when they left in the morning. The smiles and laughs of the riders as they talked about how they had chosen the wrong riding gear for the day warmed them. Several headed to the car wash to clean off their bikes. Undaunted by the wet, mud and snow, they polished their bikes for the next day’s riding.
When asked why they liked the VTX over other cruiser model choices, the unanimous response was, “They are made for riding, seldom does anything break and the price is right.”
As one wandered around the parking lot at night or in the morning looking at the VTXs parked and on display, a notable absence was that of trailers. At first one would think that these often highly customized cruisers would be trailered to the rally. Not so.
The VTX guys and gals were real riders, trailer queens being notably absent. It was with relish the VTXers traded travel tales and distance stories, nearly all having ridden their motorcycle to the event. Those few who did haul their motorcycles behind a car or in a truck had solid and unquestioned excuses.
Besides the superb riding offered by the Colorado Rocky Mountains, the VTX owners came to the rally to share information, but more importantly to meet each other. They are collectively one of the more active Internet motorcycle groups. One site, www.vtxoa.com, claims more than 21,000 registered users. Throughout the year they swap cyber pics, technical tips and stories. As one owner said, “It’s nice to finally meet some fellow VTX motor head who you have only known over the Internet.”
Evening life for the VTX rally group ranged from attending a Colorado Rockies baseball game to a group barbecue. One night a multimedia show was offered about riding motorcycles around the world.
One VTXer typified the kind of fun this group likes to have. His VTX pal had “T-Rexed” his VTX and helmet with a custom T-Rex dragon paint job. He was quite proud of the play with graphics and words he had managed to merge into a “VTreX” signature, and had entered it in the bike show. His riding buddy knew he was going to be interviewed by a motorcycle journalist and asked the journalist to help have a little fun with him. The proposal was for the journalist to say during the interview he thought the graphic did not look like a dragon, something his riding pal had been teasing the owner about for days. Mr. VTreX, Kenny Rowe of Temple, Texas, smoothly answered several of the questions posed by the journalist, then came to a sputtering halt when asked, “Is that image on the gas tank and helmet a duck or a hummingbird?” Both his riding pal and the journalist deadpanned the resulting void for four or five seconds before Rowe figured out he’d been had. All got a good laugh and went away friends.
If you want to enjoy some superb two-wheeled riding with a family of fun riders, you might want to attend this event. Check out www.coloradovtxrangeriders.com.