How much risk for how much reward?
Simon and Garfunkel sang about looking for America. Blaska thinks he found it in the unincorporated hamlet of Leland, in northern Sauk County WI.
There he found kindred spirits yearning to breathe free on a Sunday (05-03-2020). It was another chapter (dating back to the 1970s) of the informal-as-hell Slimey Crud Run (sic), open to all makes of motorcycles and motorcyclists, including the guy who winches his wheelchair off his Harley Davidson trike.
He was there again this first Sunday of May along with riders of (guesstimating here) 80 other bikes. That’s maybe one-fifth or even less of the normal turnout. Fewer rat rods, oil burners, and no old Nortons, BSAs, or pre-1954 Indians this year.
The website for this catch-as-catch-can event said it was canceled; due to the novel coronavirus, of course. But the weather — high skies and temps in the low 70s F. — told a different story. Wisconsin winters are long and cold, even the groundhog must emerge from his den.
Social un-distancing Sunday
We missed the traditional morning doings at Pine Bluff, at the western end of Mineral Point Road, but caught up with the Crud (but hopefully will not come down with it) in little Leland.
There are no better rides in the open air. Scenic U.S. Highway 12 from Madison through the Driftless Area to Sauk City is a blissful ride compared to the nail biter it used to be before expanding into four lanes. (Kathleen Falk fought it like a virus.)
Well out of lovely Sauk City you almost reach the carpeted Baraboo Range before you turn west on County Hwy C. First time I had taken that twisty and turning road from the east and it is a stunner. One passes by Natural Bridge State Park, a pioneer stone church, neat farms, and a score of sugar loaf hills with prominent rock outcroppings.
Leland itself has a whitewashed church with steeple, a gun club range, maybe a dozen houses, and two taverns. One of them is Sprecher’s — a general store kind of place where one can buy collectibles and beer in bottles and cans and their famous sausage sandwiches. Right across County Hwy C is Schelter’s: a full grill, liquor bar, and beer on tap.
Attendance was way down — maybe 80 bikes as compared to 500 most years. We saw one biker arrive with a bandana over his mouth and nose but that was to block road dust. Off it came as soon as he put out the kick stand. Hell, most of these riders don’t wear helmets.
WI Gov. Tony Evers grades out an F
Someone is always forming committees. One to “Unleash Prosperity” is grading the 50 governors on how effective or needlessly restrictive they’ve been regulating the coronavirus.
According to the Wall Street Journal, they “examined the severity of the state lockdowns, the stay-at-home requirements, the date of reopening, the treatment of hospitals, schools, factories and stores, and the enforcement penalties. They also took into account the severity of the virus outbreak in each state.”
Seven governors get an A: Jared Polis of Colorado, Ron DeSantis of Florida, Brian Kemp of Georgia, Pete Ricketts of Nebraska, Kevin Stitt of Oklahoma, Kristi Noem of South Dakota, Bill Lee of Tennessee, and Mark Gordon of Wyoming.
Only four get an F: Phil Murphy of New Jersey, Tom Wolf of Pennsylvania, Ralph Northam of Virginia, and Tony Evers of Wisconsin.
Beer and a burger
We walked in to Schelter’s and ordered a tap — no can do because of the pandemic. Bottles or cans, only. Walked out with a Miller High Life and a burger. Was one of maybe five people in the tavern, all chairs inverted atop the tables. Can you believe the luck! All the tables on the outdoor deck were open! Mr. Schelter shooed this visitor away; more coronavirus rules. But people ate, drank, and compared motorcycles cheek-by-jowl on the street. Go figure! Unlike past Cruds, not a county mounty in sight.
No real social distancing. Are we taking too much of a risk?
Spoke to one rider who rode his Moto Guzzi V-7 out of Milwaukee before your bloggeur walked the little town. The N. Branch of Honey Creek cascaded through the open gates of the dam that just a few years ago impounded a lovely millpond. Listened to the frogs croak as they darted back and forth in the shallows that remained. Leland was quieter this Spring Crud 2020.
But the BLATT! of a V-twin is still music to these old ears.
Is the risk worth the reward?
Headed home by way of Business Hwy 12 to Prairie du Sac, Sauk City’s sister city (say that three times!) and crossed the State Hwy 60 bridge over the majestic Wisconsin River to WI Hwy 188. That takes you south past Wollersheim Winery (founded by the same guy who then started California’s commercial wine industry, Augustin Haraszthy). Completely closed. (Moose out front should have told you). Highway 188 is a wonderful, up and down road but I found myself trailing a slow-poke who must have been doing what this uneasy rider should have been doing: enjoying the scenery.
The yellow, no-pass lane was about to expire so he gunned his Softail Slim to get around and immediately was confronted by an on-coming automobile. I mean, right in front!
Did the only thing I could do — darted between the two vehicles and (somehow) emerged from the scrum to tell about it here. I owe the Good Lord a couple more Hail Marys and a good deed.
Blaska’s Bottom Line: Motorcyclists accept a certain amount of risk when they ride but how much is too much in these times of plague?