Help Billy Jack! Help!

July 11, 2014

All Posts, News

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.

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28 Responses to “Help Billy Jack! Help!”

  1. The Goat Says:

    I was the driver in the white suv. The suberu driver tried to pass many times as i prevented him doing so at least 3 times an thats when ” i am my brothers keeper” came into play. He hit 3 of my brothers while trying to pass me, i being the tail vehicle did not allwo him to do so an when he fled the scene after watching my brothers being ran over by this truck an to think he could get away w attempted murder on my brothers, i could not allow this to come to be. Harter was street racing his car in a pack of my brothers while on their bikes w his 3 yr old son in the back seat an his wife sitting oassenger.. who does that w a child an woman in the car.. not us. Who hit an runs 3 motorcycles an gets away w it?? No one on my watch. He was educated on site, to later play victim while in court for almost 2 yrs an facing 36yrs- life on all of our top 6 charges.. nothing happened to this guy harter for his action that day yet my brother paid w his life, an three of us have 36yrs hanging over our heads cuz this harter punk wanted to be cool an show off for his girly friend w his subru… how did that work out for him?? No more subru an a trip to the hospital.. next time someone warns him not to pass maybe he should pay closer attention to his suroundings an use better judgment, fir i will do exactly what i did that day everytime someone puts my family in danger.. an will happily sit life in prison knowing i did my best to protect my loved ones an family, happily!! I hope he dreams of motorcycles everytime he closes his eyes cuz for my family an brothers thats all we got left of one of our best brothers this world has ever had! I love you wreckless, rest in peace brother, an we still honor you especally through death…

  2. Grumbler Says:

    Saw Easy Rider in SF during my late teens and it blew my mind. Weed, hard rock, choppers and road trips …

    The drug deal is finalized to the tune of Steppenwolf’s “The Pusher,” a song which is overtly against hard-drug pushers and dealing.

    You know I smoked a lot of grass
    Oh Lord, I popped a lot of pills
    But I’ve never touched nothin’
    That my spirit could kill
    You know I’ve seen a lot of people walkin’ round
    With tombstones in their eyes
    But the pusher don’t care
    Aw, if you live or if you die
    God damn the Pusher
    God damn, hey I say the Pusher
    I said God damn, God damn the Pusher man.

    With the stash of money they’ve made from selling drugs, they have financed their trip, including the purchase of high-handled motorcycles. One of them rolls up the banknotes and stuffs them into a long plastic tube that will be inserted snake-like into the tear-drop shaped gas tank of his stars-and-stripes decorated motorcycle. The two part-time drug dealers are:

    * a cool and introspective “Captain America” Wyatt (Peter Fonda) on a gleaming, silver-chromed low-riding bike with a ‘stars-and-stripes’ tear-drop gas tank, wearing a tight leather pants held at the waist by a round belt-buckle and a black leather jacket with an American flag emblazoned on the back; also with a ‘stars-and-stripes’ helmet

    * mustached and shaggy, long-haired Billy the Kid (Dennis Hopper), with a tan-colored bush hat, fringed buckskin jacket, shades, and an Indian necklace of animals’ teeth

    [The names of the two main characters, Wyatt and Billy, suggest the two memorable Western outlaws Wyatt Earp and Billy the Kid – or ‘Wild Bill’ Hickcock. Rather than traveling westward on horses as the frontiersmen did, the two modern-day cowboys travel eastward from Los Angeles – the end of the traditional frontier – on decorated Harley-Davidson choppers on an epic journey into the unknown for the ‘American dream’.]

    Wyatt casts off his wristwatch to the ground, a literal and symbolic flourish that shows his new-found freedom and rejection of time constraints in modern society. As they take to the open road on their motorcycles, cross the Colorado River and pass through unspoiled buttes and sand-colored deserts, the credits begin to scroll, accompanied by the sound of the popular song by Steppenwolf: “Born To Be Wild.” It is the start of a beautiful adventure as they travel through memorable landscapes of America’s natural beauty, accompanied by the pounding of rock music.

    Get your motor runnin’
    Head out on the highway
    Lookin’ for adventure
    And whatever comes our way

    Chorus 1
    Yeah, darlin’ gonna make it happen
    Take the world in a love embrace
    Fire all of the guns at once and
    Explode into space.

    I like smoke and lightnin’
    Heavy metal thunder
    Racin’ with the wind
    And the feelin’ that I’m under
    Repeat of Chorus 1

    Chorus 2
    Like a true nature’s child
    We were born, born to be wild
    We can climb so high
    I never wanna die.
    Born to Be Wild
    Born to Be Wild…

  3. 10Gauge Says:

    She rides,

    The plot: They make a big drug deal and stuff their gas tanks with rolls of money and head out into America to drop out, disappear, and live life on their own terms….I saw it when I was 13 and it changed my life.

    “From the land of the midnight sun
    Where the ice blue roses grow
    Along those roads of gold and silver snow
    Howlin’ wide or moaning low
    So many roads I know
    So many roads to ease my soul”

  4. Dave Says:


    As a rider, I know well how both riders and drivers behave, especially those riders of clubs and those drivers with cellphones.

    The problem is that we don’t know what happened. Some people will defend the riders regardless of any information, others will defend drivers without any information.

    Doesn’t matter who did what. If you start it, you deal with it.

  5. stroker Says:

    @ Dave;
    You have my apologies for assuming you were blaming the MC. Your statement was very terse, and sounded to me like you were denigrating the riders. My bad.

  6. sherides Says:

    I forgot about Mask. That is a good movie. I have seen Easyrider, I don’t recall the plot.

    We are heading out today on a ride with family, friends, and friends of family. We started 6 years ago with 5 bikes. Last year there were 18. Assorted bikes and skill levels. We try to hold staggered but some decide they have to ride 2 by. This throws everything off. This will be discouraged.

    Another challenge is to keep all the bikes rolling through 4 way stops. There are always those who stop.

    All in all its a good ride through twisty hilly country roads. Here’s hoping we don’t encounter any assholes in cars. But I know we will.

    I found it interesting that you use hand and bike signals. I do too. I go one step further and wear a bug gut stained bright safety yellow hoodie. It may not be fashionable, but it serves the purpose. (can you see me now kind of thing).

    Thanks for the advice.

    Ride Safe


  7. Jim666 Says:

    Shit can happen anywhere between anybody, at any time, this seems to be only one side of the story, lets all wait till we hear the other side, then maybe,just maybe some truth can come to surface .


    ACAB / FTF

  8. Phuquehed Says:

    @Sieg – Too bad it didn’t have Barbara Eden bein’ nice and paying back those ‘old’ bikers! She was definitely hotter than a two-dollar pistol in harlem back then and isn’t too shabby even now, for her age.

  9. ghost Says:

    the best thing about this story is that some lame probably got what he deserved, (the lame in the car) and no one got caught. I LOVE IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! STAY VALIANT MY FRIENDS….

  10. Sieg Says:

    C’mon, guys, yer slipping!

    Barbara Eden starred in “Return of the Rebels” in 1981. The other stars were members of an MC from way back when who all “grew up” and disbanded. They have a 25 year reunion, hoping to help out one of their old girls, Barbara Eden. They cross paths with a modern-day MC who pretty much ignore them. When they go to the campgrounds that their old girl, Jeannie, er, Barbara Eden, is running, they find she’s being terrorized by, get this, a VAN GANG! Yeah, one of those. Anyhow, the “Rebels”, all old boys now, out of shape, all that, are about to get their shit whipped by the young, surfer-type VAN-GANGSTERS, when who rolls in to the campground and to their rescue? You got it, the modern-day MC.

    So there ya go, a (fairly) modern pic with the dirty, vicious, motorsickle criminals as the good guys. They save the day, rout the VAN-GANGSTERS, and go on their way. Of course, everyone lives happily ever after.

    Naturally, if this happened now, the ATF and FBI would follow the clubs trail and indict them all for attempted homicide, the Rebels would all be killed “trying to escape” cause they had their hearing-aids turned off and didn’t hear ATF blow the door of their clubhouse, and the campground mascot dog would be blown-away for waking up when the feds got their.


  11. Sick Rick Says:

    Movie that put bikers in a positive light? Mask. Sure the movie was schmaltzy but at least the club was portrayed as humans.

  12. FF Says:

    “You don’t do that to God’s little Sunshine” -Billy Dick

  13. Drifter Says:

    Yup, when I read the article I figured it was just the surface and a lot more to it.

    A bloody B flick where the bikers are the good guys; Northville Cemetery Massacre, aka Freedom: R.I.P.

    @Done; In the early 60’s, there was a story going around about a BF in Fontana, dubbed the Fontana Monster (Fontana Speedway Monster). According to lore the creature (costumed hoax?) was seen by many as it walked in the open areas of the old Fontana Drag Strip during events.

    Sort of curious if the idea of the movie you mentioned was not cultivated by those tales, considering the prolific biker roots of the area maybe incorporating the scooter slant of the flick, ah probably not.

    Good posting…


  14. RtC Says:

    @ Done, Easy Rider dealt with DRUGS(actually NOT a good beginning for image) &
    I haven’t seen the Barger piece. SO……
    I have to still say no to what I’ve so far seen since 1969.
    RESPECTS to the REAL

  15. Done Says:


    Assuming by novice you mean new to fast pack riding and not new to riding, as far back as possible with two experienced riders bringing up the rear so as not to lose them in the shuffle. Novice fast packers should have been schooled in a support or lower level MC which is why the Support Clubs are such good ideas. The Feds will say these are puppet or duck Clubs who do all the dirty work so that the MC who they support doesn’t have to get their hands dirty which is rediculous in that it’s plain out false and if it were true why would anyone have the least experienced handling the most difficult work? But I digress.

    As far as permanent placement of riders, depending on the size of the Chapter/Charter(s) riding, usually Club Officers have assigned positions within the pack but this is not as regimented as it used to be. Bikes sometimes are in less than optimum condition so oil leaks or parts becoming dislodged might be best kept to the rear. Nobody wants to get covered in oil or hit by a flying part. Used to be that the Road Captain or Sgt. at Arms would do a bike inspection prior to a run (which was a really good idea) but here again, it’s not as common as it once was. Usually if not a Club Officer any Member of the Club is your Brother so you shouldn’t care who you end up riding next to, every Member is an Honor to ride next to, how this works in the non Club civilian world is beyond me as I’ve never ridden in a fast pack of non affiliated Bikers. By pack I mean 6 or more. Unless y’all ride together all the time I’d keep it down to 5 or 10 mph over the posted limit but that’s just me. I ride everyday & 95% of my travel is by motorcycle but I’m alone for most of it since I left my MC. I’ve got a very good friend who’s maxing out soon and I’m going to meet him at the facility he’s currently at with two bikes and I’m sure he’s gonna’ want to go balls to the walls which is fine but that’s the exception rather than the rule.

    I don’t ride with anybody who doesn’t use hand signals as well as built in directionals if the bike is so equiped which most these day are. In packs as well as in traffic alone communication with cagers is key even if they are texting, eating, talking on cell phones, reading the newspaper, getting a blow job. Anything I can do to attract their attention improves my my chances at not getting killed. In a fast pack hand signals are still thankfully common and universal for the most part. If you’re seeing it as a lost art then that’s the most important conversation you’ll have at the next gas & gulp. One word of caution though, the low left hand wave to oncoming riders looks just like a left turn hand signal which is why even though the oncoming rider may think I’m anti-social, when in a fast pack or pack of any kind I don’t wave back. A good rule of thumb is not to do that which those you are riding with aren’t also doing.

    There are no hard and fast rules that aren’t going to piss at least somebody off from time to time. Fast pack riding is a delicate dance with death for all concerned. 20 years ago the Troopers would respect the pack enough not to try to pick off the riders from behind. They’d get even with the first two in the pack and use extreme caution so as not to cause a mass MVA. Today’s new generation Troopers are cowboys and are just as capable of taking out a pack as a texting Rasta who just dropped a spliff in his lap. While less diciplined sloppy packs can be their own worst enemy, the quality of cagers has also become more negligent and it’s not getting any safer out there. When a man rides a motorcycle and feels safe or gets too comfortable that’s a bigger problem for those he is riding with. A healthy respect and instinct and always knowing where my escape routes are is key.

    Your last question about movies isn’t too difficult. Easy Rider didn’t paint us in such a bad light. Lately, Dead in 5 Heartbeats did us proud. There’s enough media on Bikers & MC’s that you don’t have to put up with the bullshit though some of the old B movies are still a hoot.

    Most of the regulars here know a lot more about this than I probably do. If I’ve said something stupid please set me straight as the questions need answers that are as good as possible. I’ve been riding since 76′ but nobody is right 100% of the time & I can always learn something new and won’t get bent out of shape regardless of how anyone puts it.

  16. RtC Says:

    @ sherides, not to my knowledge! Hollywierd does only FICTION, ya know.
    Sure would be nice, but afraid FACT wouldn’t sell many tickets.

    DAMN IT! That should have been VALIANTS MC!

  17. RtC Says:

    PAPER & COP reports I’m callin’ BS!
    RESPECTS to VALIANT MC (Diablo & crew) RIP Valiant ROMEO
    (Been many years ago we met. FTMC parties in Ks.)
    RESPECTS to the REAL

  18. sherides Says:

    Good post Done.

    I wonder if you can help with a couple questions.

    Where is it best to put novice group riders?
    I always hear the middle, but that’s where sloppy riding can allow a car to enter.

    Do the tightest of packs have the same riders in the same spot always? I tend to prefer to be around the same bikes. I trust some peoples riding styles more than others.

    I also think communication by hand signal is becoming a lost art.

    Did anyone ever make a movie where the bikers are the good guys?


  19. Base Says:

    The information out there on this is pretty vague. Internet search mostly turns up the NYC incident. Depending how you type it in.

  20. Sick Rick Says:

    Jeremy Slate rides again?

  21. Done Says:

    There’s a wonerful Biker flick called “Dear God No”! Bikers, Bullets, Boobs, Blood, Beer & Bigfoot!!! A vicious gang of murdering and raping Bikers, The Impalers, invade a home after a bloody shoot out at a strip club. Humiliation, rape, and murder follow, but there is something in the basement and in the woods… Sasquatch! This politically incorrect exploitation throw back to the 70s is a fun grab bag of Biker film, home invasion flicks, bigfoot monster movie, stag loops, and even some Nazisploitation (That’s what it says on the DVD cover). I got my copy via because, why the fuck not. Slow day. No doubt though that the average citizen sees this, Son’s of Anarchy, etc as documentaries. It’s probably on the syllabus for the ATF Academy. My point here is, the newspaper report reads like a script from an old B movie and try as we might, most regular folks are going to buy this kind of crap because it’s easier to demonize what you don’t understand than to put forth the work required to form an educated opinion. Most authentic MC’s have a no comment policy towards the media & law enforcement so all too often the one sided story is all that’s available. Common sense concerning large packs of motorcycle riders seems to have become a lost art for cagers. If one is gaining on you from behind, maintain your speed in the right lane and let the pack pass. When over taking one do so at a consistant speed and then resume the right lane once a safe distance between you and the pack can be claerly seen in your rear view mirror. A glance over your right shoulder before resuming the right lane to make certain the lane is clear works well. Use of directionals (blinkers) to signal one’s intention is your only means of communication with anyone you are passing. Motorcycle packs will usually ride at a set interval between each other, occasionally a gap opens up between motorcycles (THAT SHOULD NOT). It is at this point that a cager might be tempted to enter that gap especially on a two lane highway where a pack is moving slower than the cager wants to go. For this reason (& others) packs often take the passing or left side lane and keep it once in route. Cagers, 18 Wheelers, herds of majestic wildibeasts, for reasons only God knows (& He ain’t talkin’) can and do pass without disturbing packs of motorcycles if the pack takes and holds the left side or passing lane on a 4 lane highway. On a two lane highway all bets are off and cagers will take gaps in the back of packs as opportunities to advance, a staggered pack formation actually works better on 2 lane highways or at least affords more escape routes should one become necessary (as uncool & as unfun as that might be). Once the cage has successfully somehow inserted itself inside a pack of motorcycles the pack can assume a single file formation which will encourage the cage to advance especially if the riders are signaling with a left arm counter clockwise windmill motion to the cager to advance around the pack. Pack riding ain’t for everybody and should be part of the Prospect/Probate (P/P) educational process. As much fun as it might seem to be to send P/P’s on 3AM missions for beer or whatever and other sorts of activities to test the P/P’s metal, the art of fast pack riding should not be neglected and I see a lot less of that sort of meaningful MC mentoring going on than I did in the 70s & 80s. Some of the packs I see now are sloppy and invite problems especially when the accordian effect becomes operative because the lead riders jack rabbit start off green lights or just accelerate for no apparent reason while the pack is mobile. Asssholes abound especially in cages. A mild mannered soft spoken gentle soul can and does become a demon from Hell once behind the wheel of their atuomobile. The old days of a hand full of ball bearings tossed so as to shatter wind shields were doomed once every passenger in a cage got the ability to video packs with their smart phones and packs must assume they are being videotaped at all times. The problem is two fold. The pack riders need to sharpen their skills and the cagers need to calm the fuck down when dealing with them. As for this particular incident, since there is only one side of the story being told, the source has to be taken as unreliable at best.

  22. 2old2ride Says:

    Ah, my 1st drive in movie date :) She was disappointed, but I was enthralled with bikes and a life of depravity :D

  23. Dave Says:


    Show everyone where I said the MC was at fault.

    Thank you for playing “The Assumption Game”. You win the internet.

  24. Rebel Says:

    Dear Stroker,

    I know that road. I know Westcliffe and Custer County. I think there is a lot more to this than what the poliec are reporting.


  25. One Eye Says:

    I recall reading about a woman whose boyfriend stated, after she killed a biker, that “”She’s 120 pounds,” Williams said. “Who in their right mind would do that?” Reading their account made it sound totally different than what the film showed. There’s three sides to every story.

  26. Latigo Morgan Says:

    Play stupid games, win stupid prizes.

  27. stroker Says:

    No Dave, not enuff said. All we have here is the newspaper report, which is probably what the “victims” told the cops. What we don’t have here is what could very possibly have happened, which MAY be that the family tried to unsafely pass the club on a narrow 2 lane road. “While being forced off the highway, Harter hit one of the motorcyclists.” Having been in many packs with my own club, I’m betting Harter hit a biker, and that’s what generated the retaliation.
    But hey, I wasn’t there, and neither were you. So other than a one-sided report from the newspaper and cops, we can’t make the assumption that the Valiants initiated anything!

    respects to Diablo and crew.

  28. Dave Says:

    If you initiate conflict, you deal with the consequences. Jail or otherwise. Nuff said.

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