Blasting around town, smiling

Rally in the Valley puts seniors on big bikes

Jim Wilson was all smiles as he prepared for his second blast around town Saturday at the Rally in the Valley. Enlargephoto

Tobie Baker/Cortez Journal

Jim Wilson was all smiles as he prepared for his second blast around town Saturday at the Rally in the Valley.

With wind-blown hair, both bikers and senior citizens flashed smiles of joy Saturday at the Rally in the Valley in Mancos.

Reflected in left and right rearview mirrors of a Harley-Davidson, the delight of riding a motorcycle was most evident in Jim Wilson. A Marine Corps veteran of the Korean War, Wilson had been anticipating the motorcycle rally at The Valley Inn in Mancos for the past six months.

"No, I'm not nervous," he said as tears formed in his eyes. "I just want to ride."

Insisting he was only 57 years old, Wilson said in his younger days he owned a Honda motorcycle as well as an "old, old" Harley-Davidson. He said today's motorbikes offer a much smoother ride.

"I want to go to Cortez," he proclaimed on his second voyage of the day.

"Oh, so you're the bad boy of the group," one biker replied.

Stacked 10 deep outside the front door of The Valley Inn, residents sat patiently; ready to ditch their wheelchairs to tool around town on a fire-breathing machine.

"Is it my turn?" one woman asked.

"I want to ride too," another woman proclaimed.

With leather-clad shoulders for support and fingerless gloved hands on the throttle, bikers went old school, volunteering to offer rides to about a dozen willing senior citizens Saturday. In addition to free rides around town, the event was also marked with rock 'n' roll music and a barbecue. Registered nurse and Valley Inn director Joyce Humiston, who is also the Sugar Pine Ranch Rally organizer, put together the rally for the 75 seniors living at The Valley Inn.

"Emotions are high," Humiston said. "It touches both the riders and the residents."

While the motorcycle rides were the highlight of the day, Humiston said the bikers also volunteer to adopt residents at The Valley Inn. Bikers are encouraged to send the seniors Christmas gifts and birthday cards throughout the year.

More than 50 bikers were parked at the center by high noon Saturday, including Louie Robinson. A Flagstaff, Ariz., resident, he's been attending and volunteering at the Rally in the Valley since its inception six years ago.

"Just look how happy the residents are," Robinson said, as pipes rumbled in the distance. "This is one of the coolest events ever."

Adopting many of the senior citizens over the years, Robinson's sentiments were also evident as he talked about those who had passed way.

"It's heartwarming," he said. "I'm just glad I can help make them smile."