Copper Cyclefest attracts thousands of two-wheeled enthusiasts
COPPER MOUNTAIN – Faced with the prospect of 7,000 leather-clad bikers rolling into town, some folks might find themselves heading in the opposite direction – as quickly as possible.
But rather than turning into a slightly scary Sturgis-styled blowout, this weekend’s massive Copper Mountain Cyclefest has proven that motorcyclists are just average folks with a passion for riding that’s as big as the price tags of their bikes.
The event, billed as the largest motorcycling gathering to hit Colorado in more than a decade, continues today with a mix of guided rides, high-powered races and more chrome, steel and leather than you’ll ever see in the High Country.
Today also features the second day of the Fay Myers Suzuki Supermoto Classic, a loud, fast and furious fusion event that blends the blinding speed of asphalt racing with a track at the Alpine parking lot that’s half motocross-style dirt and jumps. Both days’ Supermoto races brought out some of the biggest names in the motorcycle racing world, including favorites such as Mike Metzger, Jeff Ward and Kevin Schwantz, all of whom are learning the ropes in the relatively new sport.
Seven-time Supercross champion Jeremy McGrath – the Michael Jordan of the dirtbiking world – won the first heat of Saturday’s races, tearing up the tarmac on his screaming Honda 450. Signing loads of autographs for fans inbetween races, McGrath said he was happy to take part in the Classic, especially with some $20,000 in prize money up for grabs.
“I’m very excited to be here … it’s all a nice event,” McGrath says. “And the purse totally smokes what you’d get at an (American Motorcycle Association) event. But I’ve still got a lot to learn … this is definitely not easy. And I’m not trying to start a second career or anything, I’m just hoping to get some experience.”
David Stanfield, one of the day’s announcers, said he was astounded by the collection of talent and the scope of the weekend’s races.
“This whole thing is like a private party – it’s probably the most exciting event I’ve been to in years, and there are more motocross heroes here than I’ve ever seen, absolutely the best of the best,” Stanfield said. “And I love watching these Supermoto races – everybody’s got a kid’s attitude, popping wheelies, digging into the corners and making the kind of contact you’d see in a 200 mph road race.”
Over in the village, the streets were teeming with biking enthusiasts of every stripe as folks took the opportunity to hop on new machines. A steady flow stopped by the Fay Myers tent to check out the unbelievably futuristic Honda Rune, an 800-pound black behemoth sporting an 1,800-cubic centimeter engine and styling straight out of “Judge Dredd.”
Checking out the bike, one of only 1,200 in the country, rider John Murphy said he made the 18-hour haul from Houston on his Honda VT to take part in the festival; his buddy, a Harley enthusiast, tagged along for the ride. Murphy said Copper’s scene was perhaps a little more family-oriented than he’d expect at a motorcycling event.
“My friend’s a little disappointed – we haven’t seen too many boobs yet,” Murphy laughed. “We wanted to go up to Sturgis this year but decided that we didn’t want to go that far since we’ve already done about 5,000 miles this year. Things have been fun here, though.”
Todd Olson, a motorcyclist from Castle Rock, said he was equally impressed by the scope of the Cyclefest, especially the Supermoto races.
“It’s amazing how fast they get going and how they totally push the limits on the corners,” Olson said. “But what’s really great for me is how they’ve brought out such a huge crowd of bike fans … you see motocross guys mixing in with Harley guys. I really hope they continue doing this event.”
Race Promotion Management’s Kevin O’Grady, one of Cyclefest’s organizers, said he’s received almost entirely positive response over the first two days of the event.
“We really wanted to do a motorcycle festival with something for everyone and not just have a limited focus,” he said. “Motorcyclists face a lot of discrimination as it is and we don’t need that Harley versus Honda kind of stuff here. As long as it’s got two wheels – or even four wheels – it does the trick.”
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