Words by Chris Gunn (aka Shotgun Chris)
It all started with a conversation about how we wanted to go out to more motorcycle events, but wanted more than just riding a few hours to a camp site and staying there to party the rest of the time. We wanted more riding, in big packs, stopping traffic, winding through back country roads (instead of boring freeway time), and then partying! Lots of partying!
Mike and Jess had recently acquired about 14 acres of land in Northern WI. We had all been up there on multiple occasions to party and ride dirt bikes and ATVs down sketchy trails. The location was secluded, with no permanent structures on the land, but one small shed to store a few things. This was the perfect location in our minds; land we owned, up north, sketchy trails, tons of lakes and rivers for swimming, long winding roads in all directions and one single bar down the street that had delicious food.
We had the idea, now it was time for the hard part. How the hell were we going to pull this off? When would we do it? Would anyone show up? In the past few years, Mike and I had ridden to a number of Midwest events, however, we were never able to make it out to the East or West coast due to our jobs. Seeing the hashtags of all the killer events would bum us out as we sat at our computer screens working away! We knew there were a number of our friends that felt the same way, so we decided on the last weekend of June, the same weekend Born Free has always been. This was by no means to compete with them, but to give those of us in the Midwest who could not make it to Born Free the option to go out, ride, and party!
Wisconsin is a beautiful state, when it’s not in the dead of winter, covered in 4 feet of snow. Ok, even then it is still beautiful, but I can’t ride my chopper through the snow…well sometimes I do… but it is not preferred. So, Mike and I came up with a route that would start riders in Milwaukee. They would take the 3-1/2 hour (non-stop) ride through Wisconsin’s winding back roads, stopping only to get gas and (you guessed it) drink some brews! We are from Wisconsin after all! So, we had planned out 3 quarters of the ride, however, with all the stops it had started to seem long. We didn’t want this Run to literally take all day to get there! So, we said… well… it is the Bombing Run. What if we finished the last quarter of the ride with a race to the finish line? Perfect Idea! Bomb it to the camp site!
We decided to pick the Harley Museum as the start point because it has a bar, food, is a well-known spot… and there’s motorcycle history! We started the ride Friday at noon with about 25 riders. We jumped on the freeway for about 20 minutes ‘til we got out of town, which is where we lost our first rider due to a tire issue. So, he headed back to fix it and would catch up with us the next day. We hit the first back road with curvy 2-lane roads all the way to the first gas stop. Not having a speedometer on my bike made the ride quite fun. As soon as we got there I was asked, “Did the race start…god damn haha.” From there it was back on the road. We planned stops about every 60 miles for those with small peanut tanks and had a chase truck as well, with gas and tools, just in case.
At the second stop, we hit the gas station and rolled down the road to the first bar for some cheese-filled soft pretzels, beers, and a much needed smoke (for a few of us)! We picked up a few more riders and hit the road flying through small towns, ignoring the 30 mph speed limit signs (Again no speedo… I know fast and stopped that's about it). We made it to the next gas station and our next bar stop; where we filled up with some wings, corn dogs, cheese curds, whiskey and more beer. We had our second break down and spent some time trying to get it fixed as we were met by 8 more riders. That was good, because we needed a hand getting this bike into the back of the chase truck. Luckily, he had family in the area, so the chase truck took off to get the bike repaired. This rider met back up with us the next day, as well.
As the chase truck pulled off, we went over to a grave site… yep… grave site. Not only is Wisconsin known for its beer, cheese, and motorcycles; we are also known for murderers! We were in the city of Ed Gein’s original grave site (He has been moved due to vandalism). So, we rolled through to look for his plot, in-between his parents, who are still there along with a number of his victims. After that, it was off to the last scheduled gas stop; about an hour up the road, where we jumped on a small stretch of highway.
When we made it to the last gas stop, we gave everyone a red raffle ticket. This was to let us know that a rider was with us at some point on the ride. This was also how you entered the raffle for one of the killer prizes that we were giving away from our sponsors. And to let us know that you were in for the race! We had a huge prize pack waiting for the person who got there first.
AND WE WERE OFF! Well, 5 of us that was, seeing as I was not included in the race. I was sure a number of riders didn't want to race 120 mph down the freeway (rather than just 100 mph or whatever speed my bike maxes out at). I am glad a few did race, though. As bikes started to jump off the curb and peel out down the road the rest of the riders lined up to follow me to camp. We did about another 30 minutes of freeway time and then jumped off to some more back roads lined by trees, and dodging a few deer, on the way as we made it to camp.
Everyone set up camp. We hung out, had some beers, and did a few raffles before we headed down to the corner bar for some food, shots, and a lot more beers! Here we had another break down. One of the riders pushed his bike a little too hard in the race and had some sort of knock in his engine. We decided to look at it in the morning and made it back to camp where we started a fire and people started to slowly make their way to their tents.
Saturday morning most of us were woken up by Mike ripping his ATV through camp and down the trails on his property. Before we went to get some breakfast in town, we loaded the ailing bike in the back of the truck. I went along to look for a shop where we could get someone to listen and see if maybe… just maybe it would be a quick fix. We were unsuccessful in finding any help after stopping at 3 different shops. Some rude fucking people at one of them let me tell ya. However, as we returned to camp, we found out that the owner of one of the closed shops that we had stopped at was on his way to camp to assist. Unfortunately, the bike would be staying in the truck for the remainder of the trip.
Even with the bad news of that bike, the fun must go on. So, the ATVs were brought out and the fun began! We all started taking turns ripping the ATVs down the trails on our property and a few ballsy MoFos took their choppers! Let me tell you something, those trails are pretty sketchy on an ATV, let alone a chopper!
After some fun and games, we decided to head out for the lake! We were flying down the back roads and quickly learned that some of these back roads were not made for choppers. As we were flying down some pothole-filled road that looked like it belonged in Milwaukee an exhaust pipe bounced past us! Shit! Half the pack was ahead and took off, half us and a chase vehicle (not the truck so we could not put the bike in there) pulled off to the side. With very few tools, we came up with a plan! Safety wire and hose clamps! Yep, that did it! That same bike was a bit of trouble the whole trip. As a matter of fact, it was getting fixed the morning of the ride and we would fix it a few more times this trip. About an hour outside of town it would have to get trailered back. She isn’t called “The Maggot” for no reason. We met up with the rest of the riders at a not very ideal lake for swimming, so we took off to the next one.
As we arrived at the lake, it was time to party. We all stripped down (to our swim suits) and we ran into the lake holding hands, like idiots. The other families quickly took off out of the water. Guess they weren't used to seeing a group of drunk scum bags, haha! We had some fun in the water before a storm started to roll in. As we checked the weather on our phones, things did not look good. It looked like we were doomed to get drenched, so we moved all the picnic tables from a covered shelter and put our bikes underneath. Glad we had coolers full of beer! We waited for the rain, with some of us bringing out our inner child on the playground, but the rain never came! So we made the decision to hit the road!
Got back to camp, fired up the camp fire, and fired up the grill (Brats and Dogs). Fireworks flew past and ring toss was going on down the hill in the middle of camp, which made it sketchy trying to balance your bike. The ATVs were flying, doing wheelies, dragging some party animals. And then we had to find out how many people we could get on a mini bike! We finished eating and it was time to step it up. We made a sketch ramp out of some piled firewood! However, that wasn't good enough for us, so we set it in front of the fire pit! And then set the ramp on fire!!! We started with the mini bike and that quickly turned into 20 Harleys!
The storm that we had dodged started to appear overhead. We had the last round of raffles and handed out the trophies (Best Chopper, Iron Butt, Craziest Rider, and Biggest Party Animal… oh and the Drunk Cory. This one went to our buddy who was stuck driving the chase truck the whole trip). As the rain started to come down, things started to get wild! We continued to jump bikes and race ATVs around! The rain came down harder and a few took shelter in their tents. Some started a dance party in the shed, while others took shelter under the camper awning. The rest of us decided to get dirty ripping donuts through the grass and trying to ski on the back of ATVs.
As the morning came around, the sun came up and the grass… well the grass was in better condition than most of us! Hung over, we stated to clean up and pack up everything. Small groups started to say their goodbyes and hit the road, The rest of us followed slowly, stopping for brunch, and then riding through the wind back home.
Photos by Michael Rasmussen
The Bombing Run 2k16 was a success! 2k17 here we come! June 23-25, 2017. Be sure to follow us on Instagram for more information.