I T'ay You Wh'ut

Riding in to Sturgis

PHOTOS: Thomas Kinzer & Barry Hathaway

I’m not sure when it actually started, but I know the exact moment that it stuck. It was a few days into the trip for our little group headed from Boise to the 73rd Annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. We were somewhere in the middle of nowhere in Wyoming. Or maybe it was Montana.

We had just finished playing a few games of horseshoes and were sitting around a stack of tires in front of a roadside bar called the Spotted Horse. It felt as much like someone’s residence as it did a bar—probably because it was. After all, you did have to go around a recliner with a TV tray to get to the bathroom—which had toothbrushes in it.

In any case, our little troupe was sitting there wordlessly when a pickup truck pulling a flat-bed trailer with an impossible amount of hay on it went by. We’re not talking about those mundane rectangular bales, but the gigantic roll types. And they were loaded two across, bulging out both sides of the trailer and piled three high. No one said a word for a few seconds as we all just processed the impressive amount of hay we had just witnessed. That was the exact moment when Jonny Langston of Motorcycle.com said, “I t’ay you wh’ut.” We said nothing. What could we add to that? But “I T’ay You Wh’ut” stuck for the rest of the trip as the go-to joke, the kind that’s always more funny when your group gets a little punchy from the road.

To make matters worse, or better, our joke was consistently reinforced by running into people using the phrase as we made our way through the flyover states to South Dakota for the Black Hills Motorcycle Rally and the big Indian Chief reveal. The whole meme was good fun. For a few days, once we got to Sturgis, it was replaced by a new one that we all heard at least once: “Is that there one of them new In’juns?”

The best thing about our little running joke was the way the whole thing peaked one night in Rapid City. We were sitting out on our hotel pub's patio when we had a colorful encounter with an elderly local Native American gentlemen who appeared behind my head shouting, "F' the Irish!!" He actually turned out to be an odd but witty and friendly guy, and he briefly traded banter with us on a range of very random topics. At one point, he accused Motorcycle Cruiser editor Andy Cherney of wearing a toupee. Andy countered with a wig allegation of his own and even gave a tug as a test. At a moment of pause, and what was undoubtedly about to be a precursor to another random turn in the conversation, our new friend shouted, "I tell you what…" We all exploded in laughter. And like any good entertainer who knows how to leave on a high note, our friend simply disappeared.

Our road-punchiness was induced by a generous offer from Polaris to ride out to Sturgis for the Indian Chief press launch on the 2014 Victory Touring machines. That’s an offer I’m not going to pass up, and I’m glad I was in for the ride. Not only did the 2014 Victory Cross-Country Tours and Visions we were riding perform flawlessly for our entire group during our four-day tour, they were an ideal platform for the type of country and the miles we were covering. Big country and big bikes—it’s always good to have the right tool for the job.

I’ve always been a fan of the Victory engine and its torque, but where the Cross-Country Tour really impressed was in the handling department when we hit twisties during the first two days through Idaho and Montana. The CCT has better handling than you’d expect for such a big bike, as well as a fair amount of cornering clearance. The Vision has even more, but tests my objectivity as a journalist with its styling. The fact that it tried to cook my calves, or would go into a slight wiggle that left the front end feeling less than planted any time I went over 80, didn’t make me like the Vision more. Victory says there are flaps that can direct the wind onto your legs to remedy the BBQ problem, but our bikes didn’t have them. In contrast, the CCT has flaps in the lowers that you can adjust to put wind anywhere on your leg you want, or close when the weather turns on you. It also has more luggage volume. After one day on the Vision, I declared that grenade officially jumped on and stayed on the CCT for the rest of the trip. Victory says that the Vision is its fourth-best-selling bike, and one fellow journo actually preferred the Vision, so to each his own.

Our route ( ) took us from Boise across Montana, down through Wyoming, and left us at the end of day four in Sturgis, South Dakota. It included highlights such as Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks. We went through some amazing country, often indescribably big and open. The people we met and talked to were as open and big-hearted as the places they lived. We met a woman in a small town in Wyoming who didn't seem particularly motivated to do much traveling. She recounted her sister's report of visiting Alaska as "way too many people and too many trees blocking the views." She insisted this seemed reasonable, saying, "Don't you want to be able to see across the countryside?"

I t'ay you wh'ut, I'll just let these pictures do the rest of the talkin'.