Any warm, sunny weekend here in the upper Midwest is a good time to get some serious ride time; add a ride with old friends, a tour of the now re-opened Midwest Microcar Museum and Vintage Cycle Room, plus a monster turnout for the spring edition of the Slimey Crud Motorcycle Gang Café Racer Run, and you have the formula for a truly great weekend.
My life-long riding buddy Dean Massoglia had escaped the still-cold Upper Peninsula of Michigan and came down to my place in southern Wisconsin for the Crud Run weekend. On that first Saturday in May, we took off for a ride with no particular destination, though we planned to make part of the ride a stop at Triumph of Sauk County in Reedsburg, Wisc., and swing through Mazomanie on the way. Mazomanie is part of our shared history, as we lived in that great little Wisconsin town years back when we worked in the Engineering Department of Wick Homes, which was headquartered there.
When we got to Mazomanie, we found the Midwest Microcar Museum and Vintage Cycle Room open, which had been closed since 2018 when the lower levels of the two buildings were damaged in rare, epic flooding. Now, most of those classics that had been damaged have been restored and returned to the collection, and some new cars and motorcycles have been added.
Co-founder and curator of the collection Ingrid Krause was on hand to greet visitors. Ingrid, her late husband Carlo, and their son Sven created the unique collection in 2015 to preserve the rare microcars and light motorcycles that were popular in Europe just before and after World War II.
Carlo was a long-time collector of a range of vehicle types, and the microcar was of particular interest because so many combined motorcycle and automotive components in a single, lightweight design. Some used aviation technology, such as the Messerschmitt KR200 (1955) and the Heinkel Kabine (1957). Both companies had built aircraft for Germany during WWII, but were forbidden to do so after. So, they applied their expertise to civilian transportation needs.
Admission is free, though donations are accepted and go to local charities. The museum and Vintage Cycle Room are not open daily—check the museum’s Facebook page to find out when it’s open. Group showing appointments can be set up in advance.
From Mazomanie, we headed north to Triumph of Sauk County to browse the impressive selection of new motorcycles by Triumph, CF Moto, Benelli, SSR, and Beta, a variety of used motorcycles, Polaris and Ski-Doo snowmobiles, plus gear, apparel, and accessories.
This all primed us for the spring running of the Slimey Crud Motorcycle Gang Café Racer Run on Sunday, which dawned warm and sunny.
Some riders hereabouts say the riding season begins officially with the spring edition of the Slimey Crud Run on the first Sunday in May. That’s ironic, as there’s officially nothing official about the Crud Run. There are no prescribed route maps, road captains, corner markers, tail gunners, corporate sponsors, logos, banners, slogans, mottos, great causes—well, you get the picture.
The objectives are simple—ride safe, see old friends, make new friends, ogle the other riders and their bikes, and have fun; that’s pretty much it. Dean and I met up with another old riding buddy and former Wick Homes co-worker, Tony Fransen, outside of Madison at Pine Bluff, where the Crud Run kicks off. Provisions are available in Pine Bluff at Morgan’s Pub and the Red Mouse.
Thanks to the great weather, the turnout in sheer numbers was huge. Motorcycles of all ages, brands, and configurations quickly filled downtown Pine Bluff, with overflow attendance parked along the roadsides.
After circulating among the bikes and riders, finding other friends, acquaintances, and enthusiasts for an hour or two, it was off to the end point of the run—the hamlet of Leland to the north in Sauk County, Wisc. Along the way, we stopped at the Eagle Inn in Prairie Du Sac for a little lunch.
Part of the attraction of the Crud Run lies in the fact that there are so many well-paved state, county, and township roads that wind through scenic, quiet roads. Some are narrow, shaded blacktop roads that feature lots of corners and changes of elevation. Slow and easy is the best pace to enjoy the view.
Other roads are wider and less technical, tending toward more traffic and higher speeds. Since there is no attempt to have a mass movement at one specific time, small group or individual meandering becomes the order of the day with no traffic tie-ups.
Leland is always interesting because, while some of the riders who go to Pine Bluff don’t make the run to Leland, there is a new mix of riders that don’t go to Pine Bluff, but show up in Leland. Leland is even smaller than Pine Bluff, so the place is full of riders, motorcycles, and interesting conversation. It is home to Sprecher’s Tavern and Sporting Goods, where brats, burgers, and beverages are available.
From Leland, riders disperse in all directions. For us, it was more back-road riding and already looking ahead to the fall renewal of the Crud Run on the first Sunday in October.
Photography by Gary Ilminen