The 2013 running of the biannual Mad Bastard Scooter Rally unfolded last weekend in southern Ontario, Canada. As usual, the rally set the bar for both endurance and [in]sanity, with participants covering up to 855km (530mi) while collecting “mad points” en route. To win, you must demonstrate supreme lunacy in attire, machine (low cc and decorated) and action (deranged photo ops and a Timbit collecting bonus spree).
The Mad Bastard Rally is the opus of CMG head honcho Rob Harris and made possible by headline sponsor Kymco Canada, who provide everything from eager volunteers to a lucrative Agility City 50 as the top prize. This was my third MBSR but first doing it right: on a 50cc machine.
I wasn’t eligible for the grand prize as a member of the media class, but it was just as well since a 1 in 8 shot at a case of beer (the media prize) seemed a lot more feasible than outdoing the 99 other lunatics in the room. I scanned the room at the Friday night welcome dinner and was amazed yet again by the humiliation people stoop to. From cross dressing newlyweds and dinosaurs to a quartet of fish tacos and the full gamut of superheroes, standing out in this crowd was impossible. The Mad Bastard Scooter Rally is the ultimate venue for alter egos.
For 2013, longtime teammate and fourth time offender Donny Orr had prepared “Go Go Zombie Killer” outfits for us, which added advanced weaponry and handcuffs to our mod jackets from yesteryear. We scoped the competition and I noted only three other media entrants were riding high scoring 50cc scooters. Mark Richardson of the Toronto Star (and 2005 winner) and Costa Mouzouris looked formidable in their ladies bathrobes and would be the ones to beat. Kymco set me up with an excellent Super 8 50 for the rally which I was excited about – and even more so when I learned it was a great deal faster than Costa and Mark’s 55km/hr rides.
As it always does, Saturday morning came too soon and Donny and I nearly took a 50 point penalty for missing our 4:13am start. New route maps were dispensed at the start to correct an error in the original ones, which was just as well since I hadn’t bothered to look at the original.
We set out as fast as Donny’s Ruckus could go (65km/hr), which meant a long day ahead just to complete the hilly 674km main loop with its 14 clues, 4 photo opportunities and 6 mandatory gas stops. In the early hours we merged forces with Rick, Marty and the newlyweds in the hunt for clues. Shortly after we came across the first rally casualty: James’s 1988 Yamaha YSR50 had ejected the oil drain bolt from the transmission which led to horrific screeching and James’s early exit from the rally. Thankfully Yamaha had chipped in with a sweep truck.
Two “creative” photos were required, which could be taken anywhere but exploitable opportunities were provided. We stopped at the first one: A bait shop boasting the world’s biggest bass, and proceeded to clear out any zombies in a SWAT team fashion. We were the first ones there, so the surprise on the owners face was genuine when he came across Donny hiding in the bushes with a toy machine gun.
After a few more clues we arrived at photo opportunity #2 which was a huge opportunity for up to a 100 points. The challenge was swimming to a floating dock (shown in the distance) for a creative shot. We contemplated how posing there nude would surely be worth the full hundred. While names and photos don’t always make it print, our Go Go Zombie team scored very well here.
From there we completed the first half of the loop and arrived at Polly’s Shanty in Calabogie for a quick meal and the third photo opportunity. The goal here was a kiss from or to the wait staff. Donny and I weren’t taking any chances, so we quickly handcuffed a waitress to the door and enjoyed the kind of romance that only handcuffs can provide.
We followed last years Mad Bastard champion Scooterman out from Polly’s, but his C3 was too much for us and he slipped away. We continued the hunt for clues as Rick, Marty and the Fish Tacos caught up. To impress the other teams, Donny put on a circle burnouts clinic in a gravel church parking lot, which quickly turned into scooter dominoes when things went awry.
By late afternoon we reached the twisty Kawartha section of the route. Finally not limited by my 72km/hr top speed, the Super 8 railed corners and delighted with its surprising acceleration out of the apex. I chugged up hills faster than nearly everyone and reached 80km/hr on the downhills. I was very impressed thus far with its smooth performance under 12 hours of full throttle, which is why I was aghast when the scooter died suddenly on a straightaway. I checked the kill switch – nope, and then flicked the key on and off hoping it would restart as I coasted to a stop. I reckoned the scoot had finally packed it in until I glanced at the fuel gauge – oops. In my sleep deprived stupor I hadn’t looked at the gauge all day and now I had run out without even realizing I was low. Thankfully I was able to mooch a liter from two different rally mates and get back on course.
We cruised through the final 200km of the main loop with no further malady. Tombstones were identified and we skipped the final photo opportunity to save time as we already had an abundance of worthy shots. We arrived back at the hotel at 9:10pm (that’s 17 hrs for the challenging 674km main loop) and signed in before starting the bonus loop. With 7 hours remaining in our allotted 24, the 180km bonus spree was well within reach.
After a snack we headed out for the bonus where 6 Tim Horton’s receipts were needed; each declaring a single Timbit purchase from a unique location. After securing the first two in Belleville and Napanee, we drove to Kingston for the final four. We embraced the spirit of the rally and tried haggling with the staff for a lower price. Hey Timbits have risen to a startling 21 cents each! I offered 30 cents for two but they were cruel and wouldn’t budge even after we reminisced about the good ‘ol 12 cent Timbit days.
With final receipt in hand, we headed back to Belleville only to find thick fog had rolled in. Suddenly 65km/hr was too fast and we slowed to 55km/hr out of safety and to spot the correct roadsigns. We finally completed the rally at 1:10 am – 3 hours before the 24 hours cutoff.
Elsewhere other Mad Bastards didn’t fare as well including two accidents. Stephen tagged a deer in the fog with his Aprilia Mojito 150, where he amazingly managed to keep it rubber side down despite a collision serious enough to end the deer. Another rider experienced an unfortunate front tire blow out on her Vino 125, but fortuitously cartwheeled into a forgiving roadside swamp. In total 76 of the 99 riders finished at least the main loop, with about 8 falling short due to mechanical trouble and another dozen finishing after the allotted time. Of those 76, eleven deranged individuals finished the bonus loop for a 855km tally.
Sunday lunch was judgement time, with CMG staff staying up through the night to tally the points. In the end, the truly mad and deserving fish taco – Todd McAlary – took the top spot and the shiny new Kymco. I finished with a personal best of 8th overall with 660 (out of 1000) possible points, which was good enough to win the media class case of beer. Donny and I also finished second in the team prize category as the Go Go Zombie Killers, which unfortunately didn’t get us any loot.
In the end, the 6th running of the Mad Bastard Scooter Rally (which only runs on odd years) was a huge success. The rally was sold out, the atmosphere and people were great and everyone came home safe. Start brainstorming now for 2015, because it’s not easy standing out in this crowd.