It’ll Ride You Crazy

Story by Costa Mouzouris// Photos by Costa Mouzouris and Rally Participants
September 1 2013

If you think spending the better part of 24 hours on a 50 cc scooter sounds like fun, you might also want to speak to someone about your invisible childhood friends

The Mad Bastard scooter rally comes about once every two years, and after having participated in it five times, I must say you need the break between the events. The rally is the brainchild of Rob Harris, editor of, and was first held in 2005. It started as an informal ride around Lake Ontario totalling 850 kilometres and ridden non-stop by four mad bastards, including Harris.

That first ride spawned the idea to make it a regular rally, and in 2007 it had become an organized event, with Yamaha Canada pitching in a new BWS scooter as a grand prize. That was also the first year I had taken part, aboard a 1970 Motobecane 50V moped, though a mechanical failure ended my rally after just 50 km.

Oh, maybe at this point I should mention that the rally is intended mainly for scooters or mopeds of less than 50 cc, though there are actually four classes, categorized by engine displacement. The Day Release class is for scooters greater than 200 cc; Therapy Required is for scooters between 110 and 200 cc; Heavily Medicated is for scooters between 50 and 110 cc; and finally, my preferred class, Straightjacket, is for scooters of less than 50 cc.

Mad Bastard Flash GordonCompetitors must collect “mad” points towards a win by submitting photos of mad (and mostly legal) acts, searching for clues along the route, performing certain tasks, and completing the route within the allotted time (24 hours for the Straightjackets). Points are also given for the age of the machine, costumes and scooter disguises. This year there were riders dressed as tacos, a couple dressed as bride (him) and groom (her), zombie killers and the Flash, among other zany characters. Then, after completing the main loop, which this year measured 674 km, there was a bonus loop for the truly insane that added another 180 km to the madness.

This silliness is not for naught, however; rally participants also raise money for charity. Same as last year, this rally was for Kids Help Phone, which received more than $16,000 from this year’s event.

This year, Kymco provided an Agility City 50 scooter as the grand prize, and the company also provided one for me to use in the rally. I had selected this scooter for its 16-inch wheels, which I prefer over small-diameter doughnuts, and because it had a four-stroke engine, which I prefer to two-strokes.

The route made a counter-clockwise loop beginning and ending in Belleville, Ontario, and heading as far north as Combermere. Although I had ridden solo in previous years, this year I teamed up with former Toronto Star Wheels editor Mark Richardson, my second such pairing with the madman, since I also rode with him in the last rally. Richardson was on a Kymco Like 50 two-stroke scooter. Our team was aptly named 50 Shades of Eh!

Mad Bastard ScootersNot long after the 4:00 a.m. departure, we took on another team member, Yoshitaka Nakatani, who would otherwise be riding his Honda Giorno scooter solo. There are two reasons for such an early start: to allow for the most daylight riding, and simply to torture contestants. A benefit of such an early start is that there is no traffic on the roads, which is critical when your top speed – elbows, knees and helmet tucked in tight – is 60 km/h. The route avoided major highways and stuck mostly to secondary and back roads.

On level roads, Richardson’s Like 50 and my Agility City were just about equal, topping out at about 60 km/h. On hills, however, it was a different story. Richardson would lose so much speed that we had to resort to the buddy system. I mean to say, as his buddy, I would ride up behind him and use my left hand to push his scooter up hills. And I did this often. On the other hand, when going down hill, he would pull away from me, as my scooter had an electronic speed limiter that kicked in at about 62 km/h, while Richardson moseyed along at about 75 km/h, aided by his other buddy, Gravity. I soon figured out that by rolling off the throttle just a bit while the engine burblingly grappled with the electronic speed nanny I could gain some speed, and my GPS recorded a Bonneville-worthy 72 km/h.

Nakatani, in the meantime, was enjoying a completely different power experience. We would leave him and his Giorno in the dust on level ground, but when the roads had a positive incline, he’d catch up and pass Richardson and me as if we were parked. I attribute this to shorter overall gearing, but with our three scooters producing about eight or so horsepower combined, things averaged out and we stayed together for most of the rally.

Hours on end at a snail’s pace means your mind has plenty of time to wander, so I began playing road games. One of them was to find out how far back I could ride behind Richardson before picking up his draft. I would then slowly creep up on him until I was almost on his back wheel, slow down, and then start over again. It was a long ride.

We managed to stay together until we reached Calabogie. This was roughly the halfway point of the rally, and we reached it late in the afternoon. We had a mandatory gas stop there (to confirm that we completed the route, organizers requested that we collect gas receipts at specific locations), but after filling up, Richardson’s scooter started up but refused to pick up revs, and it wouldn’t move forward.

We lost about an hour trying to troubleshoot the problem before we determined that Richardson would have to pull out of the rally. I’m sure he was somewhat relieved that he would be getting a ride back to the hotel in Belleville in the chase truck for an early drink rather than having to suffer another 350 or so kilometres aboard a sloth-like scooter.

I admit I was also slightly relieved, having all-too-vivid memories of my last Mad Bastard rally, when Richardson had convinced me to continue on to the bonus loop late at night, in what had turned out to be a marathon, 23-hour-long trudge to the finish, after which he went home with a two-four of beer for having won the media class, while I went home with nothing more than a sore ass.

Nakatani and I continued long into the night; I would pull away from him on the level sections, he would pass me on the hills. We rode through Griffith, and on to Denbigh, Raglan and Combermere before turning south toward Maynooth. At this point it had been just a bit more than 100 km after our last gas stop, and Maynooth was a mandatory fill-up. The gas station was closed. Nakatani was concerned about his fuel level, as he was sure he had to fill up at about every 100 km. However, I was doing the math, and having noticed that we were both filling up with just over two litres of fuel at every 100-kilometre fill-up, I knew he had plenty of fuel left in what I had assumed was a 4-litre gas tank (4.5 according to the specs). I gave him half of a spare litre of fuel I was carrying just as a reassurance.

We continued south towards Bancroft, where I was sure we’d find gas, but the stations there were closed, too. Onward into the darkness. I began to worry about both of our fuel levels, as I looked over each cresting hill for the glow of the next big town. We turned onto Lower Faraday Road, and the narrow tarmac, the darkness, the overhanging trees and the undulating nature of the road gave it a Dali-esque surrealism. On this road, 60 km/h seemed like lightning speed. Nakatani’s headlight beamed in my mirrors as we searched desperately for our next gas stop. It turned out to be in Havelock, where we arrived with more than 200 km on the odometer and dangerously low on fuel.

Relieved on full loads of fuel, we headed toward Belleville on the final stretch. Now past midnight, fog rolled in so thick it was almost impossible to continue. But continue we did, with the thick mist clouding our visors and reducing visibility to nose length.

We rolled into the hotel at Belleville sometime past 1:30 a.m., exhausted, sore and glad it was over. Even if we wanted to do the bonus loop, which would have us riding to Kingston and back and stopping at every Tim Hortons along the way to collect receipts, it was too late to do so.

Todd McAlary of Team Fish Tacos won the 2013 edition of the Mad Bastard Rally with 780 points and took home a Kymco Agility City 50 scooter. For my efforts, I was awarded 540 points, which put me 16th out of 69 riders in the Straightjacket class (99 riders took part in all). I handed in my score sheet and pictures, and just before going to bed in those ungodly early-morning hours, after having suffered through hours of tedium, fatigue and aching muscles, I swore that it would be my last Mad Bastard.

But I’m already planning the next one.


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