Mad Bastard Scooter Rally 2009 – behind the curtain

The 2009 Mad Bastard Scooter Rally is now history, but what a piece of history it was!

Words: Rob Harris. Pics: Mad Bastards and guests

The 2009 Mad Bastard Scooter Rally is now history, but what a piece of history it was! Here’s my story of how the event went off from behind the curtains …



Team Go Bananas embrace the spirit of madness.

This year was particularly resplendent with nut jobs dressed up as superheroes (ranging from Scooterman to Toiletman to Fairyman), the Blues Bothers, a gaggle of parker-coated and Union Jack emblazoned mods, a “man-catcher” and, of course, Elvis!

There was also a strong jungle theme with one team consisting of a monkey and two bananas (Team Go Bananas) and another rider in a full-blown and slightly menacing gorilla suit – complete with basket of bananas on the back.

The Dirty Girls on Hondas lived up to their name with blow-up sex dolls as their passengers (emblazoned with “How’s My Riding” across their backs) and Team USS Enterprise decked out in Star Trek uniforms and scaled models of the Enterprise incorporated into the back of their scoots.


Team USS Enterprise never got to warp speed.

Creative bikes included Mad Kitty  (a very pink play on Hello Kitty), two militarized scoots, and a KYMCO Xciting with a sidecar. The oldest bike to show up was a very classic looking Heinkel Tourist 175 from 1958 and the not-quite-a-scooter-but-we-let-it-in-because-it-has-pedals 1975 Yamaha FS1E.


“There should be an award for most distance traveled to get to the event” I was repeatedly told when people heard about the three riders who were coming over all the way from the west coast … on their scooters!


Dan Durston (far right) made it to the starting tent all the way from Whistler B.C.

Yes, there should, but how do you prove it?

The argument was somewhat muted when word came that one of the west coast riders’ scoots had crapped out shortly after starting and another had made it all the way to Ontario before a lapse of concentration found him in the back of a pick-up truck and the scooter underneath (as far as we know, the rider suffered a broken wrist but was otherwise okay).

The third rider, Dan Durston from Whistler, B.C., did make it on his BWs 125 and managed to not only start, but also finish the rally within the allotted time. That’s no mean feat, so kudos to Dan, but sadly no extra points … and a very long ride home.


Love in an elevator … the Four Points had seen nothing like it.

With one other rider not making the start (sacrificing her place so that her hubby could ride her scoot after his suffered mechanical failure just before the rally), that left 72 Mad Bastards drinking coffee and eating croissants in the early hours of June the 13th, waiting for the madness to begin.


There’s something quite special about starting off a rally before the sun has even popped above the horizon. The day is fresh, the air clear and the world offers up a clean canvas to paint whatever foolishness you desire.

send_off.jpgThe send off tent.

As in previous years we set up a send-off tent in the hotel’s parking lot where each rider had to show up (in order of rider number) to have their mug shot taken as well as their odometers, costume and scooter madness noted, before being sent off into the dark deserted streets of Gatineau, Quebec.

With a planned-for 75 riders this year, we’d allowed three hours to get them all out and on the road. The rally (as always) was broken down into four classes depending on scooter size, with each class having a time limit to complete the route within, in order to avoid it being a simple pleasure cruise for the bigger scoots.

Here’s the breakdown of classes and allowed times:

class scooter cc time to complete
Day Release 200 cc or greater 15 hours
Therapy Required 100 cc or less than 200 cc 18 hours
Heavily Medicated 50 cc or less than 100 cc 20 hours
Straight Jacket less than 50 cc 24 hour



Underground parking got a tad smokey.

One thing we hadn’t considered was the vast amount of smoke generated by the only road-legal two-stroke motors in Canada – 50cc scoots!

After the full contingent of the Straight Jacket class had set off, Marko and Pablo (who were in charge of sending up groups of scoots from the underground parking to the departure tent) emerged coughing and looking a tad green.

“Guys, you’re doing a great job, why don’t you take 30 minutes’ break to recover? We’ll worry about reworking the scheduling at this end.” With an event like this, you have to know how to treat the much-valued volunteers with respect and dignity.


Early start seems to have led to a wrong turn onto a highway!

By 6:30 am all the Mad Bastards were gone and we were in the luxurious position of being able to go back to bed, while superheroes, fairies and a trio of blow up dolls slowly worked their way up and around Gatineau park.

Hats off to the lot of you bastards.

Staff, to bed … let’s meet up again for lunch.


I should know by now not to be the one to give out his phone as the emergency contact number. Just as I’d slipped between the silky sheets of a Four Points king-sized bed and was sliding into a blissful state of unconsciousness, dringgggg went my phone.


Mad Kitty’s teammate, Toiletman dumped out of the rally after his Indian crapped out.

It was Carol-Anne. “Toilet man has crapped out and is being picked up by the sweep and we got a call that one of the Mods wiped out on the gravel and has a concussion.”


Toilet man was no great surprise. With events like this you can normally tell who’s going to crap out before they’ve even left the car park. Plumes of smoke from a 50 may indicate a badly adjusted oil pump, but when it’s a four stroke, you know the “please come and pick me up” call isn’t too far away.

The real stresser of an event like this is someone getting badly hurt. Mishaps are an inevitable part of organizing a two-wheeled event; you just do all you can to eliminate any obvious risks, emphasize safety at the Friday riders’ meeting and then hope for the best.


Thankfully not too common, but Dr Santos patches up Mr Jones after a tumble.

This wipeout occurred on the first gravel section of the route. About 10 km long, it was a typical Quebec phenomenon – well paved highway that suddenly goes to gravel and then back to pavement for no reason whatsoever. Trouble was, there was no easy way around it and still keep to the rest of our route, so we kept it in, with due warning at the riders’ meeting and a note on the route maps.

Ultimately it’s up to each rider to assume responsibility along the route for their riding, and that’s pretty much all we can do.


With hindsight, making Storyland a stop for a photo opp wasn’t the best idea.

Thankfully it turned out that the Mod wasn’t concussed after all, but her ride was over and my nap-time continued to be interrupted with calls of failed scoots. Oh dear. Oh well, at least it wasn’t raining.


Reception opened at 6 pm .. ish. I’d taken a bit too much of a leisurely day and had left setting up the computer to download the riders’ photo submissions too late.

I hadn’t considered that this might be an issue as I’d estimated that the first wave of scoots would be coming in around 7:30 pm, but the first one showed at eight minutes to six and then they just kept coming.


There was a bit of a wait post rally, but all seemed happy.

In this kind of event you have no leeway to buy more time. If something needs to start up then you have to deal with it.

We radioed down to the reception area and told them to hold the riders back until we were ready. This turned out okay, as a backlog of excited and triumphant mad bastards all hanging out in the parking lot quickly turned into its own reception party, giving us enough time to get sorted and begin processing.

A lucky break indeed.

With all set up and ready to go, I did what any big cheese of an event like this would do – I went for a nice relaxing dinner and let the well-oiled Mad Bastard team do their stuff.


is it a bird? Is it a plane? No it’s Scooterman!

And well-oiled they were, as upon my return I mingled with happy, chatty rallyists gathered in the parking lot and then retired to HQ to witness a smooth rider processing team of Lee and Carol-Anne.

Well, it all appears to be going swimmingly then. I’m off to bed.


It’s a little weird to wake up in a strange hotel room at 5 am, have a shower, get dressed and then open a connecting door to the MBSR HQ and see a shivering fairy downing a beer.

sendoff_fairy.jpgPeter Schweitzer was a brave man to go it alone in the fairy costume.

But it’s also kinda cool too.

Carol-Anne and Lee had worked wonders through the night recording all the data for the incoming rallyists and downloading and filing all the photo submissions to boot.

Now all that needed doing was to grade said photos, tally up the points to find a winner and slap a presentation together for the Sunday awards banquet at, oh, 1 pm … eight hours away.

Plenty of time.

Lee was glad to have the opportunity to get his head down for a couple of hours but Carol-Anne was too pumped and insisted on staying on to help with the photo judging process along with the latest volunteer to arrive, my uncle-in-law Joe (long story).


I love this one. Team Go Bananas do their stuff.

Now you might think that awarding points for a picture is a relatively easy process, but with 78 entrants (72 riders and 6 media) all with three pics each, getting a good relative spread is a bit of an art form.

Within half an hour we had a system down pat and swung back and forth through the pics adding and subtracting points until we had a pretty good spread. Good. What time is it? 9 am, time for breakie.

It was 10:30 before I returned to HQ, this time with just Joe as Carol-Anne had finally crashed. Still under the illusion that time was plentiful, I got Joe to do a quick calculation for the team prize (total of each team’s rider points, divided by the number of riders), and released him from his bastardly duties.


Most Storyland pics weren’t publishable. Snow White gets desecrated courtesy of the hands of some famous journalist.

11:30 am, hmhh, I’d better get that presentation done for the awards ceremony, which opens in … oh, 30 minutes. Oh dear, we need to get someone down there to set up the room and … oh shit, I forgot the rider’s certificates.

A luxurious breakfast was starting to kick me in the arse. There’s nothing I hate more than having to do public speaking with a half-arsed presentation. It was time to resurrect Carol-Anne, who promptly sent up Sabina who promptly got to work sucking a quickly selected spread of pics (all the funny and rude ones) into Powerpoint while I hammered out the certificates.

By now Carol-Anne had resurfaced and utilizing her finely honed skill of bossiness, promptly sent people off in the right direction, wrote out the class winners and rushed off to tell the waiting masses that ‘Arris would be there shortly so please be patient.


With only one banana left, conflict was inevitable.

There is a benefit to a last mad rush prior to a presentation and that is that you don’t have time to stop and think if you’re going to look like an arse or not. Add fatigue and you don’t care either.

I didn’t have to worry, because sending people out on a 750 km ride for up to 24 hours armed with digital cameras inevitably results in some pretty hilarious pics. All I had to do was pick out the ones that best represented the unfolding madness of the previous day, put them into a slideshow and stand back while everyone laughed and thought I was the funniest thing since Quebec highway maintenance.

Doesn’t hurt that the audience is still pumped and so happy to have finished the ordeal either.


Ben Yu Schott, AKA Mad Kitty, takes the trophy (seen with Editor ‘Arris)!

Carol-Anne took on the job of awarding the prizes, with Ben Yu Schott (AKA Mad Kitty) winning the grand prize of a KYMCO Super 9 AC scooter, scoring a very impressive 921 points out of a possible 1000.  Mad Kitty dared to ride the MBS Rally on a 1963 Honda C100 (earning him major points for age of the scooter) and made it in just under the 23-hour mark at an average speed of 33km/h!

Of the 72 registered riders, 60 came back within their allotted class time to officially finish the rally. Four of them wiped out (no serious injuries), and the rest either broke down or just didn’t get back in time. The longest ride was by Pete Schweitzer (the fairy) who was out for 23 hours and 22 minutes on his 49 cc Motobecane Mobylette.

This year’s charity was the Kids Help Phone, who sent two reps to help out on the Friday registration and give a quick talk about where the money raised will go. Through money raised directly by riders and the selling of raffle tickets on the Friday evening we managed to hand over just over $16,500!


Mad Lite 2010?

So another Mad Bastard Scooter Rally done and dusted and it seems to be getting bigger and better. Personally I had a blast and I’d say that most who took on the challenge did too. Each time we do this it draws out even more madness, more creativity and more laughs.

We’ll be back in 2011 for sure, likely somewhere a bit closer to the GTA, but there’s thoughts of another, maybe less grueling, event to host in the intervening “even” years. Just give me a few months to forget all the work that goes into it and a chance to get drunk with some friends and kick around the mad ideas.

Cheers, to all the Mad Bastards!

Rob Harris (Bastard-in-Chief)

Next week we’ll post a couple of articles from the rallyists themselves – a first person impression of the madness.


T-shirts were a hit.

Note – to see a full gallery of all the best pictures that were submitted for the purposes of scoring please check out our Smug Mug Gallery. You can also download them in high-res versions by putting your cursor over the photo and choosing the download option from the menu that appears.


KYMCO Canada – for their support and help making it all happen
Volunteers – Carol-Anne, Marko, Pablo, Denis, Lee, Jasen, Sabina, Joe
Official Photographer – Paul Masson
Video Documentarian – Sarah Moffat
MBSR Designer – Gary Davidson
Four Points Gatineau – for accommodating the madness so well.
Storyland (apologies), Bonnecherre Caves and Karen Lips of the Swiss Inn for dealing so well with the madness.



Toronto Star’s Andrew Meeson gets a great kiss shot with Karen from the Swiss Inn and wins the media prize.

BY CLASS (plaque)

Straight Jacket Class – Ben Yu Schott – 921 points
Heavily Medicated Class – Douglas Penney – 316 points
Therapy Required Class – Richard Bergsma – 599 points
Day Release Class – Paul Penney – 304 points

TEAM (plaque and a two-four of beer each)

USS Enterprise (Murray and Rachel Pickard) – 761.5 points

OVERALL (plaque and KYMCO Super 9 AC scooter to first, a Studio Cycle $100 gift certificate to second and MCC jacket for third)

1st – Ben Yu Schott – 921 points (Straight Jacket Class)
2nd – Rachel Pickard – 773 points (Straight Jacket Class)
3rd – Peter Schweitzer – 769 points (Straight Jacket Class)

MEDIA (media were not included in the other classes so we made one for them, and gave the winner a plaque and case of beer)

Andrew Meeson (Toronto Star) – 655 points


  1. Over $16,000 raised, that’s really impressive. Congratulations.

    With the attendance of several media riders, I’m assuming they wrote about the experience … Can you post links to their articles so I don’t have to search for them?

Join the conversation!