The Slimey Crud Run

It doesn’t matter where your bike’s from; if it’s a classic, it belongs in the bi-annual Slimey Crud Run

Velocette Thruxton

Dave Liebl of Madison ran his immaculate 1968 Velocette Thruxton Venom 500 in the fall 2005 Slimey Crud Run.

Gary Ilminen

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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. 

It’s a scene you really need to see to believe, and you can get some of the flavor by taking a quick tour of our photo gallery for pics of some of the unusual and great vintage machines that have turned out for recent Slimey Crud Runs. 

Of course, there’s no substitute for being a part of the real thing, and fortunately you’ve got two shots at it every year. The dates for 2009 are May 3 and October 4. More info at the unofficial Slimey Crud Run website,  www.slimeycrudrun.com. See you there! 

UPDATE/MAY 6, 2009: For a great article on the May 3, 2009, running of the Slimey Crud Run, plus a great video featuring Peter Egan, go here.