As sure as the swallows to Capistrano, Spring arrives here in southern Wisconsin the first Sunday in May. That is the traditional date of the Slimy Crud motorcycle run, now in its 23rd year.
All roads lead to Pine Bluff at the western terminus of Mineral Point Road (County Hwy S) at the intersection with County Hwy P in western Dane County. It is home to two taverns and one Catholic church and a scattering of homes. Guessing something like 2,000 bikers made the scene early Sunday morning (5-7-2017), dressed to brave temps in the upper 40s.
The purpose is to see motorcycles and motorcyclists. The emphasis is on old, ratted out, classic, and unusual bikes. Japanese crotch rockets are as welcome as Harley Davidson baggers.
Spotted a two-cycle, Spanish-built Bultaco along with an assortment of Russian-built Urals (side cars standard), a British Norton, a squadron of German BMWs before they got fairings, a 1970s Italian Ducati, and pre-Polaris American Indians. (A red 1936 Indian is pictured below.) Oh, and some American Cushmans, the boxy little service vehicles from the 1950-60s.
Proud Hog member rides Italian
While I am a proud member of the local Four Lakes HOG Club (great ride Saturday to Prairie du Chien), I joined up with Jeremy at Dunn’s Import in Middleton and some of his pals at 9 Sunday morning to ride Moto Guzzis. I can report our rides got plenty of eyeballs, especially his tenni green Griso Guzzi. Something out of the ordinary. Two-wheeled eye candy.
No official judging, no awards, no speeches. Just bikes and bikers of every description. Graybeards on Honda Goldwings and high-revving 20-year-olds. Round about noon, as the spirit moves them, cyclists take off for Leland, an unincorporated burg 35 miles away in central Sauk County, also with two taverns (right across from each other) but no church. By the afternoon, the weather had warmed to the low 60s and beer flowed a little more freely. Bikes stretched out along side roads and filled designated farm fields. Might have been 3,000 in Leland.
County Hwy C, little Leland’s main street, was jammed with pedestrians and bikes. Out of nowhere came a small parade of old farm tractors. Why not. A highlight was a man on a trike. He parked, then used the winch attached to the back of his ride to maneuver his wheelchair. Now that, my friends, is the spirit of America.
Leland was heavily policed — something not evident at Pine Bluff. But there was absolutely no trouble. This ain’t The Wild One.
Three years ago, for an article I wrote for Thunder Roads magazine, I interviewed Jason Daniels, a master wrencher who operates just south of Madison. He related:
“The whole thing started in the late 70’s. The original members ran into each other riding around Madison. There is about 15 core “original” members left. This was the ‘members riding together stage.’ It was started as a group ride to Junior’s bar to bring patrons in during hard times.”
That would be Junior Sprecher’s bar in Leland, the one with the no longer-brewed Old Style beer sign out front. [Junior died two years ago; the bar is for sale.] Then, in 1994, the riders published a tiny want ad in the Wisconsin State Journal advertising their ride.
“It was real cryptic,” Daniels remembers. “The first one was about 50 guys. It just blossomed from there.”
The fall Crud is the first Sunday in October.