The fifth edition of the Mad Bastard Scooter Rally started in Barrie, Ontario and covered more than 400 miles in the rain – all while wearing a costume.
Time and again I keep thinking that if I rode a large cruiser, wore weathered leathers and grew a big beard I’d feel closer to the essence of biking. I think that even a quick revving sport bike, with a fat rear tire and a full face helmet with reflective shield would do it, too. Never did I think, however, that perhaps the purest way to experience that feeling of what it means to be a road warrior would be to hop on a 50cc scooter, wear a costume and ride endlessly for hundreds of miles.
Perhaps some explanation is in order. I’m talking about an event that takes place once every two years. It’s not secretive, but many riders have never heard of it. It calls together the toughest, roughest, most enduring riders from all over to take on a challenge; a challenge that calls for a rider on a small displacement scooter to wear the most ridiculous attire and then ride for more than 460 miles in less than 24 hours.
This event is known as the Mad Bastard Scooter Rally. This year’s ride started off from Barrie, Ontario (the gateway city to Ontario’s cottage country, about 90 minutes north of Toronto). The route for this year’s ride was scouted months in advance and was being planned since the end of the last rally in 2009, which took place in Quebec.
Riders receive their route the night before the ride. This year’s route set out from Barrie and headed 110 miles east toward Gooderham with just a couple of gas stops in between. Next riders turned north and set off for another 70 miles to Huntsville, then 30 miles southwest through Port Sydney to Rosseau. Riders would then become southbound for 70
miles to Cooper’s Falls where they would head west to Wasaga Beach covering another stretch of 50 miles. At this point riders can opt to head back to the start/finish point, which they can reach in 30 miles, or take on the bonus loop for extra ‘mad points’ and glory.
The bonus loop is the most challenging section of the route. There are some steep hills and gas stations are few and far between. Riding the loop required some planning along with courage. Those taking on the bonus loop rode another 110 miles before concluding the rally.
The entirety of the route took riders past farms, forests, lakes, rivers and hills. There were compulsory stops along the way where riders were required to collect clues and confirm that they were there, sometimes with photographs. One such stop was the Firehouse Restaurant next to Kushog Lake in the Algonquin Highlands. Riders were instructed to bring back a photograph with them kissing the serving lady who also happened to be the establishment’s proprietor.
“We have a lot of group rides go through this area, but I’ve never experienced anything like this… it was strange enough that there were so many riders on scooters wearing costumes, but even stranger was all of them who wanted pictures kissing me,” she said.
Another challenge was to be pictured with a gino and gina at Wasaga Beach. Likely the strangest challenge, you can imagine the conversation between a scooterist in costume and a decked-out young person on the beach. Not all riders were successful in this challenge, but some – like a rider dressed as Santa Claus who posed with a whole group of
Along the way riders were tasked with various challenges, such as kissing the server at one particular restaurant.
ginas – did remarkably well.
The distance, challenges and clues are some of what made this year’s rally a truly mad one. The real deal-maker, however, was the fact that, unlike during any previous rally, this year it rained. It rained a lot. Although most riders had some form of rain gear to don, it made little difference. After hour upon hour of riding in the pouring rain the water always found a way to make it through the gear.
There were numerous times after the first six or so hours of riding where I told myself that I’d throw in the towel. I would pull over, lie down and wait for the sweeper truck to pick me and my scooter up. I was wet, cold, cramping up and feeling miserable. Then I thought of the hundreds before me, the riders who had rode this event in the many years before this. The Mad Bastard Scooter Rally was in its fifth iteration for 2011, and with about 100 riders every rally, there had been hundreds who had ridden and finished this. Heck, there were almost a hundred riders that were riding the rally this year; there
With close to 100 participants in this year’s event it’s safe to say that the Mad Bastard Scooter Rally will live on.
was no way I could give up. If all these people can conquer the MBSR, I knew that I would do it too.
Right from the very start of the rally – about 4:30 a.m. for me – riders had their right hands cranked as far as their throttle cables would allow. This was especially true of 50cc scooter riders like me. We wouldn’t let up until we needed to stop, which was usually to fill up the bike or ourselves. I was riding a new Kymco Super 8 provided to me by Kymco Canada. I kept hoping that I’d be pulled over for excessive speed, for it would have scored me a lot of ‘mad points’. The closest I got was when a patrol car pulled up to me as I was hunched over the bars praying for more power while going 30 mph in a 50 mph zone. The officers in the car smiled and kept going.
I was able to get the scooter to a maximum speed of 45 mph downhill, and saw my speed drop to less than 20 mph on steeper inclines. Even at full throttle I was managing fuel economy in excess of 85 mpg with the four-stroke engine. My total fuel cost for the whole event was under $13. My ride lasted 17 hours, and would have been longer had I chosen to do the bonus loop as well.
Riding the MBSR is more than just mental and physical endurance. It’s more than costumes, challenges and clues. It’s more than the $15,000 raised in charity for Kids Help Phone. It calls on riders to become reacquainted with the essence of motorized two-wheeled transport, providing freedom, adventure and a bit of madness.