Mantey residents saddle up for wild ride on steel horses
NATIONAL FORECAST AND TEMPERATURES
Before anyone could heed the admonition to get their motors running and head out on the highway, first there was the matter of getting on.
So, with assistance from staff members at Mantey Heights Rehabilitation and Care Center, Mary Wise hitched up her purple flowered house dress — revealing the royal blue pants beneath — and settled onto the back of Richard Kibbe’s 2013 Ultra Limited Harley-Davidson motorcycle.
Then, with a little more help, the black helmet went on over her silver and white curls and brown sunglasses in front of her eyes.
Kibbe stepped onto the bike and Mary gripped the back of his black leather vest.
He started it with a vroooooom and then let it idle with that distinctive potato-potato-potato rumble. Other motorcycle drivers under the Mantey Heights portico did the same, and then one by one they headed out to Patterson Road with a roar. Their passengers held on tight.
Saturday afternoon’s Seniors and Sidecars event is an annual tradition for the Western Slope Harley Owners Group, said Rhonda McAlister, an officer in the group’s ladies auxiliary.
“Some people have been doing this for years,” she said. “It’s something they look forward to.”
The tradition began in 2002, when a Mantey Heights resident who had multiple sclerosis asked for one last ride before he was unable to, explained Rochelle Cose, an LPN at Mantey Heights. The Harley Owners Group member who gave him a ride ended up coming to visit the man every week for several years.
And an annual June tradition was born. Motorcycle owner Andy Johnson brought his bike with a sidecar, and Saturday afternoon Margaret Buckmaster settled into it with the help of Mantey Heights staff.
Meanwhile, Velta Thompson replaced Mary Wise on the back of Kibbe’s bike after Mary got back from her ride.
“Hey, you look like a natural!” one of the Harley group members told her. “You ride Harleys in your younger years?”
She just grinned, sitting still while Kibbe mounted his bike and gripping the back of his vest, ready and waiting to head out on the highway, looking for adventure.