All photos by Mondo unless otherwise specified
Forward by Editor ‘Arris
The Mad Bastard Rally is close to my heart. It all started when we had a long-term Honda Ruckus at CMG and wanted to do something, well, CMG with it. That resulted in a 23 hour crawl around Lake Ontario but the sheer madness of doing such a thing had some perverse pleasure aspect to it.
The Mad Bastard Scooter Rally was born and despite being a once very two-year event, over the years it eventually lost its shine to me, so the chance to sell it to long time sponsor KYMCO earlier this year was too good an opportunity to pass up.
The 2015 rally is the first one where I was not the Rally Master, or in fact, involved in any way whatsoever. It was a bit nerve-wracking passing on the Mad Bastard torch, but if anyone else got it, could run it and had ideas to throw in the hat, it was KYMCO. The following is CMG correspondent, Jamie Leonard’s first person report on the KYMCO-run rally. If you were also there, please feel free to add your experiences in the comments section below.
The man sitting beside me at dinner was bright yellow, in a pair of blue coveralls and peering at me through a set of odd goggles. “Ban-ana?” he said, holding up a suitable specimen of the referenced fruit. Strangely, this wasn’t even the first time that had happened at this event – though it must be said that this time the person offering it at least had significantly less hair on their body.
There’s a new Bastard in town, and it’s a lot like the old. As many CMG readers will know the Mad Bastard Scooter rally, as of 2015, no longer belongs to CMG but has instead been taken over by long time sponsor and source of eager volunteers, KYMCO Canada.
I’ve been a long time rally rider – along with my incredibly patient wife Cindy, who has gone along on every single one with me. In one case tagging along on a 250 cc KYMCO Bet and Win while I was riding a 50cc Tomos moped…. Patience is not even a big enough word to describe doing that.
Friday, June 19th, 2015 saw both of us riding with my brother Jonathan (also a rally veteran) from Toronto over to Guelph, Ontario for the first ever “Mad Bastard Tailgate Party” with live DJ and events such as a slow ride. MBSR volunteers were everywhere, and the KYMCO staff was on hand to greet arriving riders in style and a high level of energy.
It rapidly became clear that despite the new(ish) management, the madness level of the riders hadn’t decreased at all.
We had yellow and blue minions roaming around carrying bananas, furry Muppet animals chanting their own names, 60’s flower children, gangsters, knights and even the occasional Sith lord kicking around. The hotel staff looked over everything with a kind of amused tolerance (rather than the likely deserved sideways glances of mild horror you might expect).
After the tailgate party, we settled in for dinner and the Friday evening Riders’ meeting. Some needed settling after their long trip to the rally – in some cases very long trip, as one gentleman (Eddie Wayne Kapalin) came all the way from San Antonio, Texas to attend. He was a little rough around the edges, with a full beard and lots of tattoos – adorned in a somewhat incongruous set of fairy wings and a tutu.
Apparently the fairy costume had led to several very interesting conversations with the Canadian Border Services Agents. Though I can’t for the life of me figure out what they thought he might be smuggling in dressed in such an inconspicuous outfit.
There were several changes this year from previous rallies – KYMCO had done an outstanding job getting new sponsors onboard (Tourism Ontario, Motoress, Parts Canada, etc.) and the Rider’s package included some nice bits of kit – such as a very well made custom dayglo safety vest and neck warmer.
As is traditional on the Friday, the charity results were announced, with $16,571 donated for this year’s charity – Big Brothers and Sisters of Guelph – KYMCO also decided to move to supporting local charities, something I think will have a bigger impact on the communities brave enough to host the event.
After the Riders’ meeting, we retreated to our hotel room, did some hurried preparations, and then immediately went to bed to get all too few hours of sleep.
We got up at 4am, dragging, crawling, and limply walking from the hotel bed and stumbled down towards the starting line, where the Bastards had gathered, excited to get underway…..
I went to start my 1983 Vespa and Inder sidecar rig, that I had named “The Lucky Thirteen.”
The name was a given after more than a few issues had cropped up after my original purchase of the scooter. First I had had to replace the wiring. Then several cables and the rims needed to be replaced. Then the gas gauge on the speedo failed. To top it all off, the engine seized, and a bit of errant metal took out the rotary pad on the way making the engine non-rebuildable (at least without a bunch of additional work).
So I bought a P200 Vespa, with plans to salvage the engine from it. It was at this point the lining of the original gas tank started to peel away, causing the carb to clog up. And then it was discovered that the crank was bent on the new engine. And the stator needing replacement, and finally the frame was cracking in a dangerous way.
Let’s just say the scooter and I hadn’t started off on the best foot mechanically. But at least it was unique – hand painted matte black, some custom lights, leather seat cover, steampunk badges and a life-size metal-skull headed robot to go into the sidecar.
If only I hadn’t drained the battery by leaving the parking light on. Seriously, who puts a parking light on a freaking scooter? Much kick-starting later, and a quick mental refresher on use of hand signals since my turn signals were no longer working because of the dead battery, and I was ready to go.
Our little riding group was quite the sight really – my brother and I in steampunk outfits on decorated scooters, my dealer Ken (motorcycle, not anything less savoury) on his Stella sidecar rig nicknamed “The Green Bastard” while wearing all green – including a set of tights that must have been absolutely freezing on this cold Saturday morning, and my wife in a more sensible outfit on her KYMCO 250 (a veteran itself of five MBSR rallies).
The route was a mixture of rural and city driving, going from Guelph down through Hamilton and St. Catharines, on to Turkey Point, then looping back around to Guelph through Kitchener– 639 km of riding – with an optional bonus loop at the end.
This doesn’t sound like much — and it isn’t if you are in a car — but put yourself on a tiny, underpowered two-wheeled machine, throw in the navigation challenge, and the impact of that distance grows greatly.
But the brightly coloured costumed riders around us soldiered on. We passed through Hamilton, dealing with traffic, construction, and one giant hill. We moved through St. Catharines, out into the countryside and onwards, ever onwards.
Unfortunately the traffic and construction wore us down, and driving a vintage manual shift/clutch Vespa didn’t help much either. Having realized at about the half way point that we were not going to make it the rest of the way before our cut off time, we bailed and headed back to the hotel to tend to our bruised egos and dehydrated bodies.
In our team we’d had one rider down (minor scrapes on bike, no injury), one minor sidecar crash (no damage) and one rig that had decided to lose most of the electricity from its lighting system You get interesting looks doing hand signals while dressed in full costume and carrying a life-sized skull creature in the sidecar.
The next morning was the banquet brunch – a slightly subdued group of Bastards chatting amiably among the destroyed remnants of a very nice buffet. Much caffeine was consumed and quiet conversations and laughter filled the room, the usual stories being swapped and experiences compared.
You don’t ride the Bastard without gaining a few stories along the way.
During the awards presentation, we learned we weren’t the only ones going well past our time – unusually heavy construction and road conditions had taken a toll. KYMCO responded well by extending the time slots for two of the higher powered scooter categories (did not extend for all) and modifying the rules so that you still got points and recognition if you managed to get your bike back to HQ under its own power – no matter how much time you took to do it. If you went over, you just didn’t qualify for the grand prize.
But there are only a few Bastards mad enough to win that anyways.
In the end it isn’t something you do for the prize. It isn’t something you do for recognition. It’s not a competition in the usual sense at all – there isn’t a rider that wouldn’t stop to help someone else at the side of the road, and there isn’t a rider who wouldn’t support another person who was lost or stuck.
This may be a new Bastard Rally. There might be changes to the way things are done. There might have been teething problems with the route. KYMCO, however, has things well in hand – and most importantly, they’ll keep the lights on and Bastards riding for the years to come.
All hail the new Bastard!
For more info, go to madbastardrally.com
Check out all the pics that go with this story! Click on the main sized pic to transition to the next or just press play to show in a slideshow.