“Hey Jamie, can you give me a call?”
That was the email I received early on the Monday morning after the 2015 Mad Bastard Scooter Rally from Rob Harris, the creator of the Mad Bastard Scooter rally and founder of CMG. He had just sold the rights to the event to Beco motors, and they were running it on their own without Rob for the first time.
The Mad Bastard Scooter Rally was the event that led me to long distance rides, to writing for CMG and for Rob, and was a direct reason that I ended up starting Scoottoronto.com – without the MBSR, this site and many very precious things in my life would never have happened.
And it’s just been announced that the 2019 rally will be the last one.
“I feel like I’ve been beaten by an overstimulated child with a whiffle bat.”
That’s what I said shortly into the conversation after calling Rob – it’s a surprisingly physical thing running around the backwoods of Ontario while dressed like a lunatic on a machine with an engine half the size of my snowblower.
It was a surprising conversation. Rob was hestitant – admitting to being conflicted about the whole thing. On one hand, the MBSR had gotten to be a huge job to manage, and for a very small organization like CMG it had just gotten to be too much to handle. So BECO taking it over was a blessing in that regard. But it clearly wasn’t easy seeing something he had put several years into, taking it from a literal handful of people to an event with around a hundred riders at the high point, and then to let someone else to take over and run with it – and to have the class to step aside and let them run it without his shadow hanging over things.
Though I’m sure part of him wanted to be there, he just wanted to make things easier on the new owners of the Mad Bastard brand.
The MBSR was always a thing of love and hate – hate when you were 18 hours in and things were chafing in odd places and it was wet and cold and you might not make it back in time because you’d gotten lost for the third time. Love when you hit that finish line, sat the banquet the next day and rejoiced in the madness and the camaraderie of having made it through another event.
The organizers did the same sleepless stint, but didn’t even get to ride – but they shared the feeling, that we were all together in this mad thing.
Rob was clearly torn, coming down off the weird high that is being a part of the MBSR – and having a hard time not being part of thing anymore even as he knew it was for the best.
He asked me for my opinion of the 2015 rally – I told him that while there were some hiccups, that the BECO crew had clearly put their heart and soul into things – and they proved me right on the 2017 rally, which was tremendous.
We ended the call with Rob saying he might consider entering in the 2017 rally, after the new owners had had a chance to make the rally their own without his shadow hanging over things.
Sadly, Rob passed away a year later and never made it to the 2017 rally. Except in spirit. Always in spirit.
“We know that you have been patiently waiting for news about the 2019 Mad Bastard Scooter Rally…”
Last week, the MBSR facebook page updated with a post they called “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly”.
The good news was some updates about the 2019 rally – and that the location for 2019 would be in Peterborough, Ontario.
The Bad news was that BECO motors was no longer the Kymco importers for Canada, and without Kymco being part of the sponsorship it was not feasible to carry on the rally past this year so this would be the last year for the Mad Bastard Scooter Rally.
Which is something I’ve been going through all the stages of grief on, including a few extra that I’m pretty sure make no logical sense but there is no logical sense when something as important to the Canadian scooterist as the MBSR rally comes to an end.
I’ve been feeling grief – that the event that caused me to be able to ride across the country on a two (or three) wheeled vehicle is no longer going to be a part of my life.
Anger – not at BECO, because I’m grateful for them to be running this event one last time even though they *really* have no incentive to do so if they are no longer the Kymco importers…. beyond beyond remarkably decent people, doing something for a community they helped build. Anger at the situation, at the small market share in Canada (and North America in general) and the “get a real bike” mindset that turns scooters into toys instead of recognizing them as capable machines in their own right.
Despair at the thought that this reduces the number of great Canadian scooter events that aren’t brand or vintage specific… to just about none at all. Oh we still have a few smaller things, scattered around here and there, but none of them is a replacement for the MBSR.
None of them have had people coming from BC on 50cc scooters – riding all the way. None of them have had a scooter shipped from the Canadian territories via train so that someone could ride around northern Ontario at 3am dressed up like Hello Kitty.
None of them encompass the inclusion, the silliness, the majesty and the pageantry of the Mad Bastard Rally – where the ego goes, and the only thing left is the ride.
You don’t ride the MBSR for the admiration. You don’t ride the MBSR for financial reward. You don’t run an event like the MBSR because you make a ton of money from it. You don’t run an event that leaves you sleepless, eating junk food at 3am in a hotel lobby because you just need that extra bit of sugar or caffeine to make it through until the last riders arrive.
You do it for this pointless thing – this exercise in futility – because you have realized that somewhere out there people have found meaning in a motorized circus. And because that event, silly as it is – changes the lives of those attending.
“Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”
I for one will be signing up as soon as they open registration. I for one will be there, rain or shine – heat or cold.
Dressed like a lunatic, with a ghost at my side.
Because I will not let the Bastard go gentle into that good night – I will rage rage my madness on the day of longest light. I’ll not let the last ride be tainted by sadness, despair at the ending of something that has fundamentally changed who I am as a person.
I’ll only say that we are the Last of the Bastards, and today we ride into history.
(EDITOR’S NOTE: Keep an eye out for further articles about our 2019 MBSR preparation and a ride report after the event itself.)
For more details on this event (which will happen June 21st to 23rd, 2019) you can go to the MBSR page at https://www.madbastardrally.com/.