The Fall 2009 Slimy Crud Run.
It was 46 degrees when I fired up my V7 Classic to ride up to Slimy Crud with a new friend of mine from the Chicago Vintage Motorcyclist Group. Mark met me at the Starbucks on Logan Square, mounted on his BMW tourer. Mark’s a fire fighter and owns a few properties in Wisconsin, so I was more than happy to ride with him up there. I had my long underwear on, a pair of Olympia Thinsulate Gloves, Jeans, Turtleneck and fleecy vest under my “First” leather jacket. The weatherman predicted warm afternoon. I’m going to find that guy…
The morning ride up was cold, but we stopped at Mark’s Mom’s place in Crystal Lake for a sec, and I was warmed up enough to make it to the next stop inside the Wisconsin border for some Biscuits and Gravy and lots of coffee.
45 more minutes and we were in Louden, the first stop on Slimy Crud. I watched as someone adjusted the chain on his MV Agusta F4 with the help of three of his friends. Beautiful bike, but that right there just made me rethink one. Mark owned one for a bit, and his stories about their “comfort” finished me off on it. Pass.
There were only a smattering of bikes left, we had arrived late and everyone was already headed to Spring Green. It was not getting warmer. In fact, the temp indicator on my V7’s Tach showed 49 degrees. I wasn’t shivering, but I was pretty damned cold-“ish”. Mark led as we took off directly north. Mark doesn’t miss many track days and is a very good rider, an excellent travelling companion and was a perfect guide. We travelled up though Sauk City and rode into the Slimy Crud from the North. I hadn’t been that way before and it was a little disorienting. My light had started to flicker on my tank, and I knew that I needed to fill up fairly soon. I figured I’d fill up as soon as we left, since it wasn’t far to the next town. We saw some fun stuff at run:
And then we left. I mentioned that we were low on fuel, and that I needed to hit a station soon. Mark asked if I had enough to make it to town, and drawing upon my experience from last time, I figured I did so I nodded yes. Mark led off. We didn’t seem to be going the way that I thought, and after about 10 minutes I noticed that there was some hesitation. I was leading, so I started to make small “esses” on my ride to get the last of the gas sloshing around. The bike picked up again so I just prayed, stressing and thinking that we were just over the next hill from town.
And then the bike ran out of gas. Mark pulled up next to me. “I’m done — out of gas”. Mark looked at me slightly annoyed and said “I thought you said you had enough”. I pointed that my tank showed only 17 miles since the light came on (as soon as the light comes on the Guzzi shows miles you’ve gone since it happened). Mark shrugged, then said he saw a farm house back about 1/2 mile. He just sped off. I felt like a heel for running out of gas. Never done it before, now I know what the limit on the Guzzi is once the light comes on “for good”. It flickers for about 50 miles, but when it’s solid, you better be ready to gas up.
Mark showed up about 20 minutes later with a gallon can of gas. I filled up the tank and handed him a twenty for the person that gave it to us. “Nah,” he said, “She would only take two dollars”. I apologized again, but he waved me off and went to drop off the can. I hardly think that the friendliness and willingness to help strangers is at it’s best outside of the people I’ve met in the Midwest. Had I done this on the roads of So Cal, I would have had to call AAA. In a remote area I think I would have been screwed. There’s not a lot of people that open their doors to leather-clad motorcyclists looking for gas. And Mark was a saint for doing it without complaint. I would have done the same thing, but it’s always so very nice to know that people will treat you like you would treat them. He declined my offer to fill his tank at our next stop.
We stopped at the restaurant at the corner of County Road “Z” and “ZZ”. The kitchen was down so we just grabbed a short beer and got back on the bikes. It was about 4:30 at that point and starting to get chilly. Soon after we met up with some other ChiVinners and rode with them back to the Illinois Border, stopping for Gas. At that point Mark peeled off to ride back to his Mom’s house for a visit, and I decided to finish my ride with the others, all on bigger bikes except one friend on a sweet 750 BMW. These guys ride hard and wait up at the stop signs for you to close in. Of course the V7 and /6 Beemer brought up the rear and we didn’t get much of a break. Temperatures plummeted. I began to shiver, not quite uncontrollably, but I really couldn’t get my teeth to stop chattering at this point. My compatriot on the /6 had “Hippo Hands” — Oh, the envy I wished I could feel…
We finally hit the expressway and stopped at the Elgin Oasis for Starbucks and a warm up. I was a Dansickle at this point, shivering had pretty much stopped but there wasn’t a part of me that wasn’t cold to the touch. I know I’m forty minutes from home at this point. I get a huge hot coffee and drink it. I’m not wet, thank God, just cold. I go the bathroom and hit the hand dryers, warming my face and hands, making sure that my gloves are warm. We mounted up for the final assault on Chicago. It was dark by now.
I peeled off on the 294 South, the 70mph wind blasting my face. I wasn’t shivering anymore, but I was cold and aware that I needed to by hyper-alert on a Sunday night with hypothermia setting in. OnceI exited on North Avenue near Elmhurst I looked down and notice that the temp had climbed to about 55 degrees. I knew that I wasn’t going to freeze to death on the last 5 miles of my ride in stop and go traffic. I was tired from the 520 miles I had ridden in 13 hours, and was looking forward to a hot shower and some thick blankets.