Sunday, December 25, 2011

BMWMOA Get-a-way & Slimey Crud Run, by Gary Pedersen

(Ed.Note: There is a short history of the Slimey Crud Run following this story for those of you not familiar with the event.)

This report started in August when Kay told me that she would be going to San Diego for our youngest daughter’s baby shower, and would be gone from September 28 through October 5. It was to be a girl thing! I wasn’t invited! Gee, what could I do to entertain myself? Oh, how handy, there was a BMW MOA “Weekend Get-a-Way” in Tomah, WI, September 30th through October 2nd. AND…..I could make it to a Slimey Crud Run that Sunday at Leland, Wi. I left September 30th taking Highway 30 east across Minnesota to Wisconsin. (The farther east I got, the less the wind blew. Imagine that!)

The “Get-a-Way” was headquartered at the Cranberry Lodge in Tomah. It is a large, rustic looking lodge with a log and rock façade, large clean rooms and a huge indoor waterpark. My room was a suite with a 32” and a 29” flatscreen TV. It is the smallest room they have. The staff is pleasant and helpful. The bartenders were off-duty US Marines – no, not Soldiers, Marines.

After registration Friday night there was a reception set up with meatballs, drummies, nachos, and fresh vegies and other assorted finger foods. There were 92 MOA members pre-registered and with the late arrivals there were about 100 people at this gathering. It was there that in addition to the ever present Tom Buttars, I also found Larry Davis and Rod Elsing new Autobahner from Worthington. My apologies if I missed any other Autobahners.

Sue Rihn, Vance Harrelson and Tom explained the schedule and the 4 rides that would happen Saturday. There were 2 GS rides. One was for knobby tires only and had 4 riders. The other GS ride had about a dozen riders and didn’t require full knobby tires. This ride’s off-pavement was hard packed dirt back roads that are part of the Trans Wisconsin Trail. There was a Sport Bike ride with about a dozen riders that was led by our own Tom Buttars. And the last ride was the sedate ride that was all paved and toured a cranberry harvest, cheese factory and some very neat roads through Amish Country. I opted for the sedate ride. There were about 40 riders on this ride which was too many for one group. It was a test of patience for me. The good news about riding through the Wisconsin Amish Country is that the roads are good quality asphalt with lots and lots of curves and great scenery. The bad news was all of the horse apples on the road left a brown stripe on my timing cover and on the inside of my fenders. There is something poetically wrong about having your motorcycle smell like a horse. YUK!!

The rides went from about 160 to 200 miles on paved roads with real curves through very scenic country. The scenery was enhanced with the leaves turning and I think that everyone had a good time. Saturday night there was a banquet with door prizes for dessert. I didn’t win anything. After the door prizes the evening turned into a sort of business meeting with most of the comments focused on how to speed up the closing ceremonies at the National Rally. It was +34F on both Saturday and Sunday morning, I couldn’t believe all the whining about the cold. I should get to see days that nice in Alaska.

On Sunday I left Tomah for Leland, WI and the Slimey Crud Run. Leland is about twice the size of Buffalo Trading Post. There’s a bar on each side of the road. Leland is also the finish point for the Slimey Crud Run and there were about 200 motorcycles there when I arrived. By 2:30 when I left there were probably about 1000 on site with large groups arriving all the time. Most of these were late model rides, but there were a significant number of motorcycles there that you would normally only see in a museum. It was great to see, and hear these machines out and being ridden. Most of the antique machine riders were also dressed in period correct riding clothes which added to the show.

I rode to Austin, MN, on back roads and stayed there for the night. I don’t like riding into the sunset, and I really don’t like to ride at night. A few near misses with deer, raccoons and skunks will make a believer of you. Riding at night in Alaska in the summer doesn’t count, the sun is up all the time. Monday I headed home via US-14. No, I didn’t do the brewery tour in New Ulm. I saved that for another trip. When I was getting gas in Tracy, MN, there were a lot of sirens, fire trucks, police cars headed west on US-14. A corn field was on fire next to the highway and the road was closed for a while to non-emergency vehicles.

It might be some kind of mental thing, but I know with each mile that I rode closer to South Dakota the wind speed kept increasing, and I don’t like wind.

As of Saturday night the MOA had not yet scheduled another “Get-a-Way” for next year at Tomah, but if they do I will be there and will have to choose between the sport bike ride, or the easy GS ride. Also, seeing a Slimey Crud Run is something that should be on every rider’s bucket list.

Slimey Crud Run History as taken from Slimey Crud Run web site:

There are no big ad campaigns, no corporate sponsors, no official website, no local or regional newspaper or TV promotions, not even the usual obligatory one-size-promotes-all beer banners with the name of the event emblazoned on a huge blank white spot.

Despite all the makings of what should be an unknown event, the Slimey Crud Café Racer Run in southern Wisconsin is attended twice each year, on the first Sunday in May and October, by riders from all over the country and routinely has participants from at least five states in the upper Midwest.

Its origins are nearly as murky as Stonehenge, dating back to the early Seventies, according to one of its co-founders, former Triumph/Bultaco/Matchless racer and current Triumph dealer Lyall Sharer. From humble beginnings, the event has become an organic thing that thrives on its own energy. At each gathering, it isn’t uncommon for anywhere from 1,000 to 3,000 machines to show up.

The Crud Run meanders across the scenic Wisconsin River valley from Pine Bluff in Dane county to Leland in Sauk County. The distance between the villages is less than 30 miles in a straight line, but the road mileage can vary from about 70 to, well, who knows? No specific route is prescribed, so the best way to go depends entirely on your imagination.

Despite the name, the event is not limited to the sheathed-in-plastic sport bike set. In fact, while there’s something for everybody in every class of bike, the event seems much more like a rolling vintage and classic bike show.

Flathead, knucklehead and panhead Harleys; TR-6, Daytona and Bonneville Triumphs; Lightning and Thunderbolt BSAs; Moto-Guzzi Falcone and 850 Le Mans, Ducati SS-900 and Diana, Norton Commando, Vincent Black Shadow, Munch Mammut, BMW, Velocette Venom, Royal Enfield, Indian Chief, Suzuki RE-5, Honda CB 77, Hondamatic, CBX; Laverda Jota, Kawasaki H1, two-stroke, four-stroke, rotary, flat-trackers, touring, choppers, bobbers, adventure bikes, rat bikes, to name but a few of the types, brands and models seen at recent Slimey Crud runs.

Next Crud Runs scheduled for May 6 and October 7, 2012

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