VICTORY RIDER BLOG: HIGH-MILEAGE RIDER JIM TOM STIMPSON IS ON HIS VISION & ON THE MOVE YEAR-ROUND
Jim Tom Stimpson is living, riding proof that the Victory tag line is legit. He rode one, now he owns one – two, actually – and he is riding the wheels off his Victory motorcycles.
When Jim Tom bought his 2008 Victory Vision four years ago, he sold his pickup truck. After all, he commutes on the Vision every workday in every type of weather, and the truck “ended up being a garbage dumpster in the driveway that we would throw trash in,” he said with a laugh.
Pining for a Victory
Like so many riders, Jim Tom got started riding on dirt bikes as a kid. He graduated to a series of street bikes, and in 1999, while attending a motorcycle rally in North Carolina, he headed to the demo rides while his friends went to an area casino.
“From what I saw, I didn’t think much of the Victory at first,” he said. “But I went to the demo area, rode a Victory [V92C], and when I got back home, I had to have one. I started pining for a Victory and I found one on eBay in Tampa, Florida. I played this game where I would bid ridiculously low, knowing I wouldn’t get it, but nobody outbid me and I won the motorcycle!
“Then I had to figure out how to pay for it,” he laughed.
He rounded up the cash, then he, his wife Kay, and their kids headed to Florida, turning the bike pick-up into a Stimpson family vacation. The 1999 KYSO Blue V92C had 4,000 miles on the odometer when Jim Tom picked it up.
Today the odometer on “Ol’ Blue” shows he has ridden it over 150,000 miles. And the odometer on the Vision recently rolled past the 133,000-mile mark. That’s a lot of miles on two beloved Victory motorcycles.
Jim Tom, now 47, steadily adds to that mileage on his 60-mile daily commute to work at Heil Environmental in Fort Payne, Alabama. Heil is the world’s leading producer of “refuse collection vehicles” – garbage trucks – and Jim Tom coordinates the complex in-house fabrication of parts to keep the production lines rolling.
Commuting on Bikes Year-Round
He has been a motorcycle commuter since 1995, when a beloved Camaro Z28 he was driving became unreliable. He vowed then to ride to work year-round on his street bike, a practice he has continued to this day, first on the V92C and now on the Vision.
“I froze a few times, but I figured out what it took to successfully ride year-round to work and I’ve done it ever since,” he said. “Last year was the worst winter weather that I’ve experienced on the motorcycle. One day last year I rode in 4 degrees Fahrenheit temperatures.”
He also rode home in a snowstorm so fierce that when he pulled off the freeway in Sand Rock, he had to park at a friend’s house at the foot of the mountain and walk the final quarter-mile home.
“The Vision makes it pretty easy to ride year-round with the fixed fairing, the power windshield, and the heated seats and grips,” he said. “But still, when temperatures are in the teens and below, you have to be prepared.”
Work, Rallies & Trips With Kay
Jim Tom sometimes stretches his rides to and from work. When the Vision and the road feel right, you’ve got to keep rolling, which is one reason why he’s currently riding over 30,000 miles a year on the Vision.
Along with his work commutes, he attends Daytona Bike Week and Biketoberfest nearly every year, he has been to Sturgis seven times, and has ridden all across the country. He has certified four Iron Butt (IB) rides and has ridden IB distances on several other occasions without documenting the trips.
“ was a record year for mileage because I rode to Key West, the Natchez Trace, Sturgis, the Blue Ridge Parkway all the way to Virginia, to Texas on New Year’s, and we rode to Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina,” he said.
The “we” he refers to is Jim Tom and his wife Kay, who loves riding with him and has an Iron Butt certificate as his passenger on a 2013 SaddleSore 1000 (over 1,000 miles in about 19 hours).
“She is a big part of the reason that I can ride as much as I do,” he said. “If we’re off of work, she’s with me. I don’t have to worry about hurrying back home. When we get on the bike, we’re really off the clock. . . . We tent-camp on a lot of our trips. In 2013, we went to Sturgis together and we would get up in the morning and see something different every day.”
Along with its standard cargo space, the Vision has a trailer hitch onto which Jim Tom adds a cargo rack if he and Kay need it for gear. But even that wasn’t enough space on their 2013 Sturgis trip. Jim Tom had to ship home a box with 45 pounds of merchandise and gear before they left South Dakota.
Jim Tom rode to Sturgis on his own in 2015, calling it a “T-Shirt run.” He rode almost straight through to the Black Hills, made a whirlwind visit to the rally – including attending the Victory owners party – then cannonballed home. His account of this inexpensive (total cost of $445.52 for a 6-day trip) and action-packed trip can be found here: http://cansoupsturgisreboot.weebly.com
On another solo run to Sturgis, he said he “slept one night in the campground at Belle Fourche, then got up and rode West” because a fellow rider had told him about several great riding destinations. “I accidentally went through Beartooth Pass, and also rode the Chief Joseph Highway – the greatest solo ride I have ever done.”
He rode through several Western states, including scenic southern Utah, and when he reached I-40 in Arizona, he was 2,000 from home and due back at work in less than two days. No problem for Jim Tom and his Vision. He covered the distance in about 40 hours and made it to work. He looked a fright, but in the spirit of a true Victory Rider, he made it!
More Ridin’ to Be Done
As another sign that he’s a true Victory Rider, Jim Tom has plans for more epic rides. These include a West Coast trip on which he and Kay plan to visit a “greatest hits” list of riding destinations. They hope to take that trip this summer. He’ll be at Daytona Bike Week this year, of course, and is always a candidate to attend the Victory owners party at Sturgis.
Riding his Vision is one part of a very full and rich life for Jim Tom. Along with his work and riding, he is kept busy as a devoted family man, a distance runner, and a volunteer assistant for the high school football team. (He was a speedy running back on Sand Rock’s undefeated state championship team in 1985.) He is also a devoted Christian and a very active deacon at Sand Rock Baptist Church.
So whether you want to talk about motorcycle touring, Bible verses, U.S. travel, garbage trucks, football, being a husband and father, or how to sleep on your bike – under its cover – at a truck stop, Jim Tom’s your man.
But catch him while you can. He’s got his sights set on 200,000 miles on his Vision. Victory Rider Chris Nelms of Virginia has over 191,300 miles on his Vision, and will be the first to 200k, but we predict Jim Tim will hit that milestone quicker than you expect.