In a 1967 film called Born Losers, the late actor Tom Laughlin introduced an action character named Billy Jack and immortalized the nastiest of stereotypes about the biker menace.
After returning home from Vietnam Billy Jack took refuge in the lonesome mountains of San Luis Obispo County on California’s Central Coast. In the inciting incident of the film, the moment that pushed the plot into motion, Billy Jack arrives in Morro Bay and witnesses a motorist being savagely beaten by the Born Losers Motorcycle Club. Billy Jack jumps in, saves the victim and is arrested for his good deed. Of course, unbeknownst to Billy Jack, the motorist started the fight by running into one of the bikers and then insulting him. Free of the impediment of Billy Jack’s mad martial arts skills, the Born Losers proceed to terrorize Morro Bay – or “Big Rock,” as it is called in the film – and rape four teenage girls.
Now, half a century later, life seems to be trying hard to imitate art in the lonely mountains near Westcliffe, Colorado.
Biker Gang Attacks Family
Writing in the Wet Mountain Tribune (“Published Every Thursday Since 1883”), under the headline “Biker gang attacks visiting family,” esteemed colleague in journalism J.E. Ward reports that “a man, woman and three-year-old boy” were attacked by members of the Valiants Motorcycle Club – a club born about seven years after Billy Jack faced his biker foes. The Valiants now has chapters in Denver, Windsor and Florence
Ward reports “Travis Harter, 25, and his girlfriend Nicole Mickeletto, 24, and their young son were surrounded by the motorcycle gang known as ‘Valiant.’”
“The attack began west of Wetmore on Highway 96.” “There were a dozen motorcycles and five SUVs that increased and decreased their speed around the family, and refused to let them pass.” “By the time the family had come onto Hardscrabble Road they had been rear-ended by one of the SUVs already.”
“The assault escalated at mile marker 18 when a motorcyclist rode beside the family, pointed a gun at Harter through the window and told him to pull over. ‘That is when a white SUV shoved them off the road,” Custer County Sheriff Fred Jobe told Ward. “While being forced off the highway, Harter hit one of the motorcyclists. ‘We don’t know if it was intentional or not,’ Sheriff Jobe said. Several of the alleged Valiant members hit Harter through the driver’s window. While he was being beaten, other members smashed the headlights, slashed the tires and stabbed the driver’s door with a knife. ‘Other members shouted and harassed Mickeletto and the three year old on the other side of the vehicle,’ Sheriff Jobe said. ‘They were not touched, though.’ By the time deputies arrived at the scene, the bikers were gone. Harter was taken by a Florence ambulance to Parkview Medical Center in Pueblo where he was later released the same day.” You can read the complete story here.
Today the Pueblo Chieftain ran a shorter version of Ward’s story under the headline “Gang assault under probe.”
The Valiants MC
The Valiants don’t make much news. On Christmas Eve 2011, the Canon City Daily Record reported “Valiants Motorcycle Club helps donate presents to the Family Crisis Services, Inc. shelter.” A year ago, the Billings Gazette reported that a club member named Todd Schisler “threw a four-pound metal bar at the driver’s side window of a vehicle on Interstate 90, smashing the glass and injuring two people.”
The victim of the metal bar incident, identified as “J.V., reported that the motorcyclists were driving ‘extremely aggressively’ on Highway 212, ‘passing in no-passing zones and driving in the oncoming lane as if playing chicken with other drivers.’”
“J.V. said the motorcyclists got on Interstate 90 toward Billings where he saw them ‘pass in between vehicles traveling parallel in both lanes, and raise their middle fingers to other drivers.’”
Now, a Sheriff in Southern Colorado is claiming the Valiants have struck again. The ghosts of the biker menace continue to haunt the West. And how you feel about that probably says more about you than it says about the Valiants.