Spreading holiday ‘goodwheel’ | SkyHiNews.com

Spreading holiday ‘goodwheel’

Tonya Bina
Sky-Hi News
Granby, CO Colorado

GRANBY – For Jasmine, 7, the bicycle needs to hold up to the way she rides.

She’s a little harder on bicycles than most girls, according to her mother.

And for Jasmine’s sister Charissa, 5, her style of bike is on the daintier side, perhaps with training wheels.

Accompanied by mom/grandma Christina Whitmer, Jessica Galloway of Kremmling rummaged around for the perfect set of bicycles for her two daughters.

About 20 types from which to choose were parked inside the Arapahoe Alpine bicycle shop at the west end of Granby, attached to the Mountain McGyver antique store.

Owner VJ Valente helped narrow down the selections, agreeing that perhaps a “boys” bicycle would be a better fit for Jasmine, and that perhaps a bicycle without trainers would aid Charissa in progressing to independent riding.

Galloway, whose husband Jackson had been out of work for a month before finding a part-time plumbing job recently, admitted she wouldn’t have been able to supply such gifts to her girls this holiday if it weren’t for Valente.

Valente was giving away these restored Diamond Backs, Magnas, Huffys and Schwinns, having fixed them all up with a tune-up, new seats if they needed, a pedal here, a pedal there, tires, tubes handlebars and other donated and workable parts.

Valente’s shop is helping to fulfill the Christmas wishes of at least 15 families this holiday season with his first Holiday Bike Giveaway program made possible by used bicycle donations from friends and Valley Recycling of Parshall, and Valente’s mechanical skills.

If it weren’t for Valente and the Mountain Family Center of Hot Sulphur Springs, which connects families with bike vouchers and other gifts, Galloway said, “We wouldn’t have had any presents this year.”

In a short time, everyone chose Charissa a pink-accented Schwinn, and for Jasmine, a perfect 20-inch Magna “Rip Claw” boys bicycle.

Grandma purchased purple handlebar grippers to “girl” it up a little.

And for each, a bicycle horn.

Spreading bicycle cheer

“I hate seeing bikes go to waste,” Valente said, adding that more than once, he has pulled a bicycle or two out of landfills.

Valente was raised in the Bronx, where having a bicycle meant a freedom like no other.

“It was always quicker commuting by bike, because you could blow through stop signs and it’s just a great way to get around if you know the back routes in the city,” he said.

He often took his bicycle along the seashore up and down the New York City coastline, camping out with friends.

His interest in bicycles never passed. Via California then Boulder (where he worked at a bike shop), Valente eventually moved to Grand County. A bike trip from Boulder over Rollins Pass and back by way of Trail Ridge Road in 1987 was how he first came to know the Grand County community, where he said he “met nice folks traveling through.”

Formerly a bicycle shop owner in Granby with veterinarian Dr. Larry Peterson, Valente and his wife Susan decided this year to reopen a bicycle retail, consignment and repair shop after there had not been one in Granby for several years.

“I love fixing stuff,” the auto and bike mechanic said.

“We figured we would give bikes away for Christmas and keep kids riding. I think most people agree that their first bike gave them a sense of adventure. It gives you a little taste of your first independence I think,” he said.

“I think bikes are cool.”

– Tonya Bina can be reached at 970-887-3334 ext. 19603 or e-mail tbina@skyhidailynews.com.

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