VMC/History/V2V              THE VICTORY MOTORCYCLE CLUB                                                                           

9 Apr 20


One of the two main national events in the VMC annual calendar is the V2V, Victory to Victory, travelling from coast to coast, with legs organized each year by a whole team of volunteers and a baton passed from one to the next.  Quite a number of members ride for one or two legs of the V2V each year, and some brave souls complete the whole event.

Ray (Spike) Durkin was the first VMC President and served two terms.  One of the markers of the old Victory Highway stood not too far from Ray and Patricia Durkin’s place in Desoto, Kansas and this gave Spike the idea to research the history of the Victory Highway[1] and promoted the idea of a coast-to-coast Victory ride, or Victory to Victory, abbreviated to V2V, as a means of bringing those early Victory riders together.   The idea took off and continues to this day.

The very first official VMC National Meet was literally held in the Durkin’s backyard in 2002, but was in fact the third V2V.  It was known as the Meet In The Middle.  Members came from all over the country.  One up and coming Victory performance guru, by the name of Lloyd Greer, brought his dyno trailer all the way from Pinebush, NY.  He stayed very busy all weekend tuning bikes and subsequently created the successful Lloyd’z Motorworkz and has developed many performance upgrades for Victory bikes over the years.

The first Victory Rider national  “organized” event, prior to the formation of the VMC, was on July 4, 1999, when 8 riders rode up to the factory in Spirit Lake to celebrate the first anniversary of Victory.  The Victory Homecoming event grew out of that and, in time, became the Victory event at Spirit Lake.  The next one was the V2V, also predating the formation of the VMC.

The V2V has become a firm favourite in the VMC annual calendar[2].  The decision was made to alternate the route west to east one year and east to west the next. 

It seems that the first V2Vs took 12 days, so in effect 2 weeks plus whatever time was needed to return home thereafter.  Some members thought that was too long as they couldn’t take so much time off work, at suggested that this was the main reason why by V2V 10 in 2009 only 9 members had completed the whole Coast to Coast.

Spike shared the background to the V2V in a post dated 16th February 2009, and he can tell the story first hand better than anyone, so hope he won’t mind this being quoted here.  (A few asides have been deleted):

10 years and a few months ago, I got a Victory – man was I excited!  #160 and the first in the state of KS (so far, no arguments, so I’m sticking to my claim).  Trish and I (my wife) rode that thing all over and got the Steve Martin ‘what the hell is that’ everywhere we went.  We started noticing Victory everything wherever we went – Victory Baptist Church, Victory Cemetery etc.  About this same time, we were playing with web pages and Trish created our own web page all about us and our Victory.  Then a woman named Laura sent us an invite to a Yahoo Group for Victory owners.  We signed up and there was her, a guy named Graham and a guy named Roadkill there – we made 4 and 5 in the group.

Word spread pretty fast and in a few months, there were dozens of us talking.  Well we all decided then that we’d head up to Spirit Lake, IA on July 4th in 1999 and meet each other and check out the Victory factory, July4th being the anniversary of Victory #1 coming off the assembly line.  We called it the Victory Homecoming and a whopping 8 of us showed up – from all over – KS, IA, MA, TX and MN – it was possible the best summer ever (up to that point).  And there you have the seed sewn for the AVR – but we are talking about the V2V.

Well on the way home from this homecoming, flying high, Trish and I rode past a place called Victory Junction Restaurant in Kansas City, KS (now basically the location of Nascar’s KS Speedway).  Of course we pulled in – had to get a matchbook you know!  They didn’t have one, but the waitress said we could have a menu.  We got home and read the cover of the menu and there was a short article about this road called the Victory Highway.  The menu gave very limited details, so off to the internet we went.  We went to Ebay and found 2 different maps – one from 1924 and one from 1928.  We bought the map from 1924 (Rand McNally) and got a copy of the one from 1928 from a guy at a college.  It was called the Mohawk Hobbs guide to the Victory Highway.  We scanned it in and it was most excellent.  We let our website pass away, but another guy ripped off all of our scanned pages and put them on his page – so you can still see them today.  They will answer everything about the terrain and EXACT route of the Victory Highway.

Well here we have these maps of this road called the Victory Highway that runs from Times Square in NY to Market Street in San Francisco.  And here we had this big group of folks on a Yahoo Group that we had been dying to meet.  Now up to about 300 folks or so. So it had to be done – we have to ride our Victorys on the Victory Highway.  Victory to Victory….. V2V….. 

But that’s a huge stretch of road, so we came up with the idea of doing it Pony Express style – breaking the highway up into sections (Legs) and then getting someone to be the Leg Captain of each leg.  We would then get a baton to the first Leg Captain and it would be their job to get that baton from the start to the end of their leg – and hand it off to the next leg captain who would then take responsibility for getting the baton from the start to the end of their leg (leg 2).  They would have one day to get from start to finish of their leg.  We only had 3 rules – 1. Only a Victory could carry the baton.  2. Stick as close to the actual Victory Highway route as possible and 3. Have fun!

So that’s what we did and the Victory Highway Relay was born. I’ve tried to call it the Victory Highway Relay every year, but V2V is the most popular name – at least when people are typing it.

One other bit of trivia for you. The baton we carry was built for us specifically by the folks at the Spirit Lake factory.  You have to see it to believe it, but it’s a piece of handlebar with mini grips on it and a handlebar clamp that says 1998 V92C.  There were going to be, but there never were 1998 Victorys, so very special. 

Every year, it’s been a challenge to all the Leg Captains and riders to find new stuff about the Victory Highway.  We have found actual old Victory Highway road signs believe it or not – and so far, 6 Victory Highway eagle statues – they are very cool to find!!!  Of the 6 we have found so far, 3 of them are in Kansas and 3 are in California. Over the years, the legs and routes have changed a little and morphed here and there for varying reasons – mostly practicality. The very first year, the V2V hung by a thread – only one Victory road the leg across Utah – if it weren’t for Sue Valez, the V2V would not have happened the first time, so we have named the leg across Utah Sue’s leg.  Posthumously sadly.  I’ve tried to get the leg captains to name all of the legs, but so far, we have stuck to numbers – which is confusing because the relay alternates direction each year – so this year’s leg 1 was last years leg 14. But more on that later.

So after that first year and getting out on this cool old highway and meeting other real live Victory owners, we made it an annual event.  But year two, we decided to go back from West to East instead of East to West like we did the first year.  This way, the folks on each coast get to alternate who ends the ride.  You see, we decided that it’s appropriate to end the relay every year on July 4th – the birthday of the Victory motorcycle.

 A couple of years ago, we added two days to the relay – and made it an even two weeks. So from now on, you can plan the V2V dates years into the future.

The relay alternates direction every year – NY to San Fran one year and then back the next.

 It always starts on the first day of summer (June 21st) and ends on July 4th.

The biggest legs are around 50 people – and that’s the legs that happen to fall on Saturdays.  There are some legs that will have as few as 3 or 4 bikes in the middle – but then end up with 20 or so at the end.

ANYONE on ANY kind of bike is welcome – but still, only a Victory can carry the baton. You are welcome to join at any point and drop off at any point.  Meet us for lunch or ride coast to coast!

So far, 9 people have ridden from coast to coast on the V2V.

We try to stay off the super slab when we can – but in some places, we have no choice – such as the longest leg – Wilson, KS to Denver.  The only paved road is I-70.  But it’s cool because we can go 90 out there and there’s no one to care.

We highly encourage every Leg Captain to put their unique stamp on their leg – so that while the general idea is the same all the way across, hopefully no two legs will be the same and you will get something new and exciting out of every leg.

I can tell you right now that the leg from KC to Wilson, KS is totally awesome.  Wonderful 2 lane roads through old little towns, limestone buildings, 3 Victory Highway statues!, the Eisenhower Presidential library (the father of the Interstate Highway system and NASA), The Kansas motorcycle museum, the state capital (Topeka), a couple of cowtowns of legend and a Victory Highway sign left over from long ago.  And of course, the stopping point – the Midland Hotel – SO COOL.

Oh and the leg that goes through the Rockies is pretty cool too. 🙂 If you make it to Maybell, CO, you will be smiling for a long time after that.  I’ve only been from St. Louis to San Fran personally, so I can only comment myself on those legs – every one of them has it’s own great story – made great by the road itself and the people you ride with and party with at the end of each day.

I want very badly to ride on the very first (or last) leg with Mark Luz – they always have such a great time – a special cake, and a restaurant they always stop at that has a Victory specific menu – so awesome – one of these days, I will be one of the people that has ridden the Victory Highway from end to end on the V2V.

Everyone always seems to love the V2V – and once you ride it, you will know why. I hope you take at least an afternoon to ride with the group as it passes through your part of the country.

Oh – and I guess that would help – a general idea of the route. It’s NOT I-70, but it’s that general idea from the East coast to about Denver – then highway 40 to Salt Lake, then I-80 to Wendover and then we drop south for the Lincoln Leg of the Relay.  One leg of the V2V deviates from the Victory highway (for good reason) and meets back up with the Victory Highway in Reno. Then on into San Francisco.

Like I said – folks can write pages about this – and I hope they do chime in to fill in the gaps I have left – it’s a fantastic highway, a fantastic group of people and incredible memories.

2009 saw the 10th anniversary V2V.  It was popularly abbreviated to V2V-X.  According to the Club forum the 14 legs varied in attendance from a minimum of 2 riders for one leg up to about 12 for another, and a mix in between those numbers for the other legs.  Whether or not those numbers increased by the time the ride began is unclear.  V2V-X was also the first year when a real time tracking device was used:  “It puts a line on a map with time stamps every 15 minutes or so.”  The Los Viejos Victory Riders LC hosted a post-V2V party on July 5th at Redd’s house (real name?) in Rohnert Park, a small town in the North Bay about 45 miles North of San Francisco off Hwy 101.

Before the end of December 2010, whilst detail planning of V2V-11 was still underway, the Pre-V2V party was confirmed as Saturday, June 19, 2010, at 12:00pm, in the beautiful mountains of Southern California.  Hosts were Tom Wise and Patti Rowe.  Also, the Great Plains Victory Riders announced that they would host a Meet In The Middle (MITM) cookout sponsored by the VMC at the Kansas City overnight stop with free food and soft-drinks, with the intention of that becoming an annual fixture.

On the lead-up to the 2011 V2V-12 there was an emphasis on remembering the men and women in the military who are still fighting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  But also the Club made a united effort to remember one of our own, Bill Konsel (“negaspasser”).  A banner traveled the entire V2V for all to sign and after completion the banner was sent to Bill’s Chapter for presentation to Bill’s wife.   Bill has been a great asset to the VMC and this seemed a fitting tribute.

Again, sadly, the Club lost another key member, Ron “Papa Vic” Bogart in May 2012.  In his memory the GPVR arranged for a Club banner to be carried on V2V-13 across the country with the Leg Captains and later presented it to his family.  This was also Patti’s last year as Chair of the V2V.

In 2013  the 14th leg, Carson City, NV to SanFran, CA, was named the “Sydney Marie Sheppard (FishWitch) Memorial leg” in memorial of esteemed member Syd Sheppard. A

portion of Syd’s ashes travelled the 14th Leg and 5th Gear has noted an area that he and Syd had always talked about stopping to enjoy (and fish) but never managed to find the time.  It was agreed that it would be fitting to give her that wish and with a brief remembrance some of her ashes were spread along the river area there. The T-Shirts that year were designed with a fish on the back and a “Go Fishy” slogan.

For the 2014 V2V it was announced that “Victory Motorcycles” would be joining the VMC as co-sponsors of the year’s V2V. Victory Motorcycles have donated hats, shirts, patches and pins, and asked for donations from all who receive them.  The intention was to raise funds for the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) with Victory donating $0.10 per mile for every relay rider who tracked their ride using the Victory Rides App, up to $10,000.

For 2015, V2V-16, a previously not included on the route, historical site, was added to the Veterans Leg (Leg 8).  The site on the east side of Topeka honors all branches of the armed services and POW-MIA’s. 

The Chairman for the 17th Annual V2V was Vohn Busby. During the planning stage of the 17th V2V (21st June – 4th July 2016) the Club discussed a change of format for the event but there was a strength of argument that 4th July is considered the birthday of Victory Motorcycles, and ending on that day had become part of the Club’s history for that reason.  In the end the Club agreed on the previous pattern of routes, except that Frederick MD became the endpoint for Leg 12, instead of Baltimore area. Also a stop at Flight 93 Memorial was included as well as the Toll Houses in Addison, PA and LaVale Md. with 11 riders, included a stop at the Jug Bridge then a visit to Ellicott City with a stop at the National Road Monument the route then continued north to a stop at the Victory Brewery Brew Pub in Downingtown PA for lunch. After lunch only 3 riders continued to Stroudsburg, shortly after starting out it was discovered that Vohn Busby had a flat on his Vision rear tire but a quick roadside repair was made by Sam McGinnis with a Stop N Go kit provided by Gene Hunt.

For the 19th V2V (June 22nd – 4th July 2018) it was decided to run the event in 13 legs rather than the 14 which had hitherto been the case.  An explanation was given as follows:

The ride by tradition must end on July 4th. The ride had changed over the years to go north from DC Area to Stroudsburg, PA then to Chicopee, MA instead of NYC area. It was decided the ride would not go north to MA but instead go straight to the coast on the National Road, so that eliminated a leg.  It was said that there had been an issue with the ride going to/from NYC and apparently that is when the Long River Riders stepped into to take it over.  For 2018 the Chairman, Gene Hunt agreed to take it to the coast instead of Stroudsburg. 

The Spot was used again to track the progress, and a rolling posting of pictures and descriptions was put on the VMC Website.

Also in addition to the Baton a jar filled with seashore was included on the ride, a tradition that had been started by the Long River Riders

Total number of registered participants was 122, including some riding multiple legs.  We had 1 rider, Gerald Alkire, who rode legs 4-13.

2019 saw the 20th running of the V2V. 

List of Annexes:

A.  The History of the Victory Highway.

B.  List of V2Vs.

[1] Annex A:  History of the Victory Highway.

[2] Annex B:  List of V2Vs held.