Pine Bluff, ten miles west of Madison, is a typical rural Wisconsin community. It has a church, a couple of taverns, and a lot of peace and quiet.
Except for two days every year.
The first Sunday of May and October, the deafening rumble of motorcycles fills the air in Pine Bluff. The event that draws them is called the Slimey Crud Café Racer Run. For bike lovers, it’s a little slice of motorcycle heaven.
“You can see just about anything ever made in the world here,” says Randy Abendroth from Madison. It’s not an exaggeration. Domestic, foreign, rare, one-of-a-kind and even antique motorcycles can be discovered. “We’ve had priceless bikes guys will bring from museums. They’ll just stand there and teach people about the significance of that bike.”
The event got its name from a group of grad students attending the University of Wisconsin–Madison in the 1970s. Equal parts youthful whimsy and a genuine love of motorcycles, they dubbed themselves the Slimey Crud Motorcycle Gang.
Over the years, they attracted new members to ride with them including Abendroth, who co-founded the Slimey Crud Run in the early 90s. “We had 20 to 30 people on our first ride, and now look at it. It’s evolved,” he muses.
Now, almost entirely through word of mouth, the event draws thousands of motorcycles and people. With brats and burgers grilling, the festive atmosphere is much like a tailgate party before a game.
But instead of a game, there’s a ride.
After folks have enjoyed a good look at all of the bikes, they’re encouraged to ride northwest to the small community of Leland. When and how they get there is up to the individual.
“It’s fun to ride up to Leland,” says yearly attendee and award-winning motor journalist Peter Egan. “You can take a very beautiful country ride on the back roads from here to Leland and never really get on any major highways.”
The growing appeal of the Slimey Crud Run is pretty simple according to Abendroth. “It’s a gathering of people that have very similar things that they like in life: motorcycles and cool people.”