The Mad Bastard Scooter Rally - London Edition
Scooter Riders from across North America Unite in Ontario, Canada
As I sit here just days following the Mad Bastard Scooter Rally, I’m finding it hard to put my thoughts and experiences down into words. It’s partially because this event was such a whirlwind that I’m still processing the madness of it all, and it’s also because I feel like no words can possibly describe this event or do it any justice. You really have to experience it in person. For those of you who want to know more, I’m going to try to put this event, no wait, this experience, into enough words that will convince you it is something worth experiencing, and hopefully that will be enough for you to let go of your inhibitions, experience the unknown, and live life a little dangerously.
How can you live life dangerously on a scooter, you might ask? Well, when you are cruising on 50cc or maybe 110cc scooter on the side of the road with faster and larger vehicles whizzing past you, and a massive black vortex storm mass on your left, and after you’ve been on the road for 17+ hours, you might begin to question your sanity and motives in life. I got home and shared the experience with my family, and their first question was, “Why would you ever want to do this?”
So let’s backtrack a little so I can provide you with some background on this event. What is the Mad Bastard Scooter Rally? Well it’s a bi-yearly scooter rally, hosted by Kymco, and each time is held in a different location across Ontario, Canada. This year, the rally was held in London, ON, and welcomed participants from across North America who were eager to challenge themselves while having a blast. Scooter aficionados from Texas, Manitoba, British Columbia and Nova Scotia were among the group, in addition to riders from across Ontario and other places.
The rally takes riders on all scooter makes, models and engine sizes on a 550+ km (340 miles) route through some of Ontario’s best motorcycle roads. Riders have 24 hours to finish the route, while completing different challenges along the way to earn “mad points.” At the end of the day, the point of this event is three-fold: Firstly, it’s to celebrate riders and their love of scooters; secondly, it’s to raise money for a local organization in the town that the event is held; and thirdly, it’s to compete to not only win a new Kymco scooter, but to also gain the title and bragging rights as the Maddest Bastard. This year, the event raised over $10,000 for Big Brothers and Big Sisters of London and Area.
When I arrived on Friday, scooter riders happily completed ice breakers at a show and shine, which showcased some very unique and intricately decorated scooters. Riders also had the opportunity to demo some Yamaha scooters. The riders meeting that evening reviewed the rules, route and expectations in detail, and I mean serious detail. What did I take away from that meeting? Well, I learned that I had to be up at 3:00am and on the road by 4:30am, which is something my friends failed to mention to me when I signed up for the event. All complaining aside, I figured I could sleep when I’m dead, and so I got a few hours of shut-eye before pulling myself out of bed to transform into Wonder Woman.
With coffee, pictures, and some cheers, I departed on a Kymco scooter with my friend, Oliver “Brokentooth” Solaro and the three Amigos: Matt 1, Matt 2, and Ilya. Ahead of us were some excellent characters, including the Joker, Poison Ivy, and a group of Martians. Todd McAlary, winner of the 2013 and 2015 rallies, was dressed in a Spiderman costume and looked pretty pumped to possibly pull in a three-rally-in-a-row win. Scooters adorned with decorations, gas cans, bags and coolers lined up for an individual picture before being released into the wild. We were surely a sight to see on the road.
It honestly took me a bit to get used to this scooter. As someone who has ridden everything from 250cc dirtbikes to 1300cc cruisers, I was not sure what to expect on a scooter with a 9.6-hp SOHC 4-stroke engine and automatic transmission. After I coached my left hand to stop looking for the clutch, I started to really get into riding this scooter. It was fun, easy and had some pep.
The planned route took us through beautiful countryside, small towns, beaches and around some winding rivers. After cruising along the coast of Lake Huron, we wound up in Sarnia for a gas stop. Breaking the bank with a $3 fill-up, I continued with my group to our next mandatory stop. At this point, it was only 9:00am and we were already feeling the pace.
Cruising along the St. Clair River to Wallaceburg was long but oh so beautiful. We knew our lunch stop at Dockside on the Cove was coming up, but it couldn’t come fast enough. Low on energy, we made it through Chatham-Kent to the restaurant in Tilbury, located next to the Thames River. Lunch next to the water was exactly what we needed to refuel and rock the second half of the route. At that point, I was in a bit of denial that we were only halfway through, as we had been on the scooters for 8.5 hours. Is that even allowed?! Fortunately, I had a Wild Ass cushion keeping my rear end comfy on this ride.
While my group was ready to rock after inhaling their food, I saw in the distance a scooter on a raft and wondered if this might be the short cut I was looking for. After losing my friend Oliver in the chaos earlier that morning, I was excited to see him roll up to the restaurant on his raft with his scooter on board. He cheerfully asked if I wanted a ride, and I couldn’t resist the offer. With that, we set sail in the Thames River; me at the mercy of Oliver and having no idea whether I would meet up with the rest of the group or not. Like a bunch of loyal scooter riders, though, they patiently waited for me to return from the cruise, where we then set off on the next leg of the adventure with a few new people added to our group.
Cruising through Leamington to Point Pelee, and then along Ontario’s Southcoast to Wheatley and Port Alma seemed to go by like a blur, mixed with a few stops here and there. As we rode the last leg of the route, we noticed an ominous black cloud lingering in the sky. Word from headquarters was passed along that hail, strong winds and heavy downpour might threaten the rest of our route. We kept a leery eye on the vortex cloud as we navigated around it, only getting rained on a bit. It seems we managed to avoid the hail and worst of the storm.
As the sun started to get lower in the sky, my group came to the realization that we wouldn’t make it back before dark. Cold, damp, and exhausted, we pushed on because giving up wasn’t an option. We had signed up to finish this rally, and finish it we did.
I’m proud to say that at 11:30pm, after 19 hours total on the road, we made it safely back to headquarters. Proud, tired, triumphant are all words running through my head to describe how I was feeling at the time. I grabbed a slice of pizza and celebratory beverage compliments of Railway City Brewing Co. before crashing for the night.
The next morning was the awards ceremony, where we were presented with certificates and learned what position we placed in based on the number of points we received. A video had been put together overnight to showcase pictures and video from everyone that participated, and it was so great to see how everyone experienced the Mad Bastard Scooter Rally in their own way.
Best of all, several participants made it to one of two bonus routes for extra points. The Martian Group actually made it on the Point Pelee Ferry and back which proved to be an entertaining experience for not only the group, by ferry passengers as well, and ultimately leading to Lee Martin the Martian earning the title of the Maddest Bastard.
So why should you attend the Mad Bastard Scooter Rally? Even if you don’t ride a scooter, you should always want to challenge yourself to do something different, make some new friends, and explore an area you might not ever get to explore. At the end of the day, we do this because we can, and that’s what makes you a real mad bastard.