Lets begin this by summarizing the ‘Crud. It’s a bike gathering that is the official, unofficial ‘cafe gathering started quite some years ago by a small unofficial group of riders known as “The Slimey Crud”, of which world renowned author and journalist Peter Egan is a founding member. It’s basically evolved into a gathering of exotic Italian machines, others are from the land of the rising sun, and made purely from unobtanium (thanks for the word Craig) and worth a life to most riders. It’s an incredible experience to be smack dab in the middle of. I can’t imagine anything more interesting than meeting up at one location on the first Sunday in May and again in October, checking out some bikes, forging a trail to location number two and seeing what is there as some don’t go to one, but will end up at the other, some don’t find the second location, hell, some just don’t know!
From the official Slimy Crud website –
“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.”
“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.”
My day began as any other, wake up to the alarm clock, start up the coffee, check my email, same old shit to begin with, but today was going to degenerate into a trail of destruction. Let me explain, by the end, we were less two bikes, had seen a few totaled bikes, all of us were nearly hit by a bike or a car on more than one occasion, and got to see an epic failure of a “roundabout”. It was incredible to say the least.
Once my brother was up and ready to roll he started pulling on gear and I took off for our friends place to get him and head out from there, so I left first to get everything in order and as I arrived at B from A, I found my friend fast asleep and totally unprepared for the journey ahead!! I was not happy but threw the garage door open and began doing work! Before any time had passed we were on the road, rather happy to be headed to the Slimey Crud as a group of three for the first time in years, nothing was stopping us… or so we thought!
Thumbing starters and warming bikes we chatted about what route to take, one thing was certain, we all needed fuel for the journey and decided on a local gas station a few miles away. After topping off the machines I restarted the XR650 with a mighty thump, Tim fired up his GS850, and my brother thumbed the starter and nothing happened… no headlight either. If we only knew what was to come through the rest of the day. A quick push and a rolling bump start and the king six was alive and proud of it! Off we went.
As we approached the first stop of the run we could have only been 10 miles out after a 25 mile journey through morning motorists and weekend warriors, the twistys were right in front of us, and a large group of Harley’s made it past us when the mighty KZ1300 decided it was out of fuel with a half of a tank! A little messing around with the line and petcock and we were off like rockets toward the bendies. But quickly catching the potato parade.
After miles upon miles of uneventful corners we made it to the Pine Bluff stop. Chatted with a few riders and finally met up with a familiar face I had been in contact with up until then, had a chat about the big six cylinder bike my brother now owns and somewhere lost touch for the day. Big triple smokers and more Yamaha brand bean oil burners than you can imagine began firing up, everyone seemed to be in a race to get to Leland, stop number two. It was utter chaos for 15 minutes and then it was time to fire up our bikes and take to the hills with point B as the only intent.
Before leaving Pine Bluff a friend of the fighter movement showed up, he may ride a faired bike, but dreams of burning plastics every time he looks at modern sportbikes. It was a good addition to our group to have a Ninja 650R with a Jardine GP-1 slipon and a competent rider behind the bars. We knew we could be a little speedy and not worry about him keeping right with us and doing it in a safe manner. Turns out, he was the only one without a mechanical failure and saved the day by the end of it all.
Firing up my buddies XR650L on a KX450F slipon commanded attention that the big slug was alive! I felt a devilish delight as I blipped the throttle with a mighty brap to end all braaaps. I should probably mention how great the SuperMoto turnout was this year. Husky 510 and 610 within’ 500 feet of one another, a Rotax powered early 1990’s ATK, and only one lost and lonely DRZ400SM, the other handful were true home built or exotic level SM’s. I real delight for the sporty dirty rider in all of us veterans of the street.
As we left the town I found myself feeling sporting as I chased a group of bikes into the hills with a thumper singing a tune I can dance to, and I dance like shit. After a matter of three corners I spot a Subaru WRX going much faster than what I would consider safe for the corners I am carving through and I give the guy a signal with my whole upper body and left arm that slows him down just as a second group of bikes come out from the tight blind corner I just left, narrowly missing the front end of the slowing ‘rex, prevented one, but couldn’t be there to save the other.
As we came out of the dog leg road we had just been on and nearly seen a crash at, we turn onto a stretch of painted line county road in our route and as we accelerate something just doesn’t feel right, a few corners later that bad vibe is confirmed. Plastic all over the road, a rider laying in the intersection, and idiots passing, racing down the road like fools, flying through the oil on the road and kicking up plastic. That 40 seconds I was there right after the crash was madness. Nothing I could do and had to keep going, alot slower and alot more conscious of the situation at hand with so many bikes on the road in such a small area.
It couldn’t have been more than four or five miles and the KZ sputters and dies like it is out of fuel again. Damn.
This time we are stuck on the side of a road that had been covered in tar and pea gravel, at best, 3 days ago. I was a little worried as we were on the end of a corner, but not just any kind of corner, an off camber blind left hand crest. If anyone low-sided on the gravel, we were prime target. I could go into my personal feelings on this sort of situation but lets leave it at the fact it makes me uncomfortable having bikes flying past at 5 or 10 over the speed limit, but this road was marked at 35mph and I’m dead sure most of the groups that passed us were going near 20 over the speed limit. On lightly worn down pea gravel road. It was pissing me off a little.
After a few people came flying over the hill and nearly lost control I walked up closer to the corner and flagged people to slow a little, still, nobody stopped to check if we were alright, but the polite sound of exhaust note rolling off mid range and high rpm as they approached our stranded group was an ease to my mind.
After messing with the fuel filter and blowing some air through the line back into the tank in hopes it was only debris in the petcock screen the six fired back to life and we continued… for a few miles.
I think we made it a total of 3 or 4 miles and the bike died again, so we roll to a stop, thankfully this time it was at an entrance to a dead end side road so we were safe from the threat of crashing bikes and clueless, speeding riders. Don’t get me wrong, I get my kicks too, but there is a place and time for that stuff. I didn’t survive 10 years as a 100% street rider by putting the hammer down just because I felt like it. You gotta be smart to stay alive.
Once again, a little messing about and the KZ fires back to life, another few miles and it’s dead, once again, a small side road entrance provided shelter from the masses of motorcycles. A little more time and off we go one last time. We couldn’t have made it more than 2 miles and we find ourselves at the half way point of the trip to the second destination and the bike is done. It’s a HOT early October afternoon and we all begin to strip off gear at this point. Our savior on the 650R decides to go look for a parking lot or an intersection (with street signs) so we can sort out how to get a truck out there and get the bike home.
The sound of the 650 slowing right around the corner, getting dead quiet and then WFO back toward us was sure sign that we were close to something! As he pulls up and flips up his shield on his HJC he says there is a parking lot right up the road, and it’s all down hill, we can just coast on down there. Sweet! So we pack gear onto the bikes and get moving, no sooner than we pull into the parking lot the plan was hatched that we needed a fuel filter.
Tim mounted his XR650 and the 650R fired to life as well. My brother and I stood there at the end of the parking lot with front row seats to the pair of 650’s leaving. Now you have to know as well that we are at the bottom of a valley surrounded by foot hills. We can see the road from our point at the lot all the way up curving and banking through the side of the hill right in front of us, a good 2 mile stretch of road is 100% visible, and the 650’s have to traverse these twistys to get out of the valley and to a town.
We sat and talked about bikes, life, the Crud Run, CF, and right when we thought we had run out of patience we hear the distinct sound of ten thousand revolutions per minute. They were burnin’ gas and haulin’ ass! Down the hillside through the twistys I watched as the pair of 650’s carved like a mirror image, one much different than the other in body position and style, but the speed and pace was identical. Quite the spectacle. In all honesty, it was beautiful.
A little more messing about with the six and it seemed happy enough to get us to the nearby town. We set out in hopes of making it and were pleasantly surprised by the stretch of road we had to traverse to get out of the valley, finding that the 650 boys had cleaned this road up with nary an issue, it was twisty as I could ever want, and it was in the middle of nowhere. Honestly a great last hurrah before the day started sucking. Did I mention everything up until this point wasn’t so bad compared to how it ends?
After pulling into a gas station and making the decision that we would head back for the truck since anyone staying would have to ride back anyway, we decided to just drop all the bikes at the shop and head back in the truck with a flat bed trailer to haul the 700lb KZ1300 six back home. I’m unsure what went through all our heads before we all parted ways to organize the rescue party, but we all seemed uneasy about the trip ahead. Maybe collectively we all knew a bike wasn’t going to make it back in one piece. Visions of a modern day mechanized Donner party abound.
It was a traffic packed route back home. Commuters heading home from camping for the weekend, riders everywhere, and the occasional police car en route to destinations unknown. We were just trucking along like any normal human being would and were about 14 miles out from the shop after making it almost 20 when Tim decided on a change of route and slowed quickly. I grabbed a hand full of binders, flipped on the left blinker, waited for the GS and EX to turn the corner and realized just as the GS started turning left that the rear tire was spinning a little bit.
Before I describe the crash, you have to understand that Tim has been riding for nearly 25 years, he is a seasoned veteran and I’ve seen him power-slide motorcycles on damn near any surface and on more bikes than you can imagine, from little dirties to full dressed touring bikes, this guy can handle his own, so, what happened next was a surprise.
The back end of the 800lb touring bike swung out to the right side kicking up a lot of dust and clearing a tire wide strip off the silty, sandy surface of the intersection. None of us saw that shit until the tire cleared some off the road, but by then, the Cheng Shin tire was far beyond it’s wear limits, and now, way beyond the traction limits. I watched in disbelief as the bike got so sideways it started dragging the front tire over the asphalt leaving a black mark!!
I knew it was all over right then and there but Tim hung on tight as the bike rebounded from the slide and tossed him up off the seat! Like a road racing god he grabbed the tank with his legs, exerting plier-like clamping forces, avoiding being tossed, it swings back to the left and drags the front tire the opposite direction, this time getting so sideways I was sure it was done at that point… nope, back the other direction it goes but this time there was no holding onto it, rider tossed over the bars to the left, bike leaving the ground to the right and beginning a roll.
As I watched rider impact asphalt it was a head and shoulder hit, but he looked like he would make it out alright, the bike on the other hand decided to do it’s best impression of break dancing and proceeded to flip, cartwheel, and spin on it’s controls and seat, upside down. It was no more than a few tenths of a second before it was all done, but it was carnage. Parts all over the intersection, road scuff’s all over Tim and the GS. And me, reduced to mumbling and cursing about how I’ve seen this happen too many times… because this isn’t my first rodeo, after near 10 years of riding, you see a few crashes. This was number three for this sort of parlor corner crash loosing the rear end. I’ve seen it happen with alot of bikes, nothing seems to be exclusive to this sort of thing, it just happens.
After parking the XR and making sure everything was still connected to my friend and he was still in one piece, we proceeded to upright the GS and clear parts off the road. Honestly, it takes some serious effort to yard sale a naked bike, the GS did just that though, it seems everything fragile or exposed touched the ground and either broke, or was damaged beyond repair, but, if the clutch perch haden’t broken, it would have been ridden home!
I’m not too comfortable with passengers so the 650R got pushed into having a passenger and once the GS was parked on the side of the road we were talking of continuing, but in need of an ice pack for Tims shoulder and cold beers all the way around.
As we were on our way back after the crash it was dawning on me that there was a boat load of traffic that watched the crash occur, nobody stopped! Groups of bikes went cruising past the debris field and never batted an eye lash. Only reason I notice this is that back in 2007 I ran out of gas on my Bandit 1200 and couldn’t make it 30 feet without a bike stopping and asking if everything was alright. This time, nobody seemed to care! All day long not one bike or car stopped to see if we were alright despite the extremely unorthodox places we were stopping.
After loading the sad heap into a truck and getting back to the shop we cracked open some beers and started talking about the day, reminiscing about the great times we had, the awesome bikes we had seen, and the wild 10 hours we had just spent wrapping up the riding season right and proper. My Crud Runs usually end up like this, as crazy as it sounds, this is pretty normal.
What a wild ride,