I have a saying: “My scooter puts a smile on my face, but my CBR 1000RR puts crap in my pants.” Hence my expectations that the Mad Bastard Scooter Rally would be nothing but smiles. How hard could it be? It’s only 600 km’s – I’ve ridden 900 km in a day on my sport bike which folds me up like a pretzel and I’ve been on road trips of 4,000 km’s over 12 states and provinces – all I have to do is follow the route.
As it turns out, being awake for 24 hours straight and on the road for about 23 them is really hard! But let me start at the beginning.
My day began at 3 am with a hot breakfast served at 3:30 am and a departure time of 4 am for the Straitjacket (up to 50 cc) class. Spirits were high as my group left Guelph.
I had never been on the road this early and riding through the morning mist, seeing the veil of darkness slowly lifting and the sun pushing above the horizon painting the sky gold was truly breathtaking. We had perfect weather for the day too – sunny, not-too-hot 23 C, and a very low probability of precipitation. In fact, the night before, the organizers PROMISED it wouldn’t rain. The route that was given to us was a fantastic blend of scenic and twisty roads. Imagine all the best roads between Caledon, Turkey Point, St. Catharines and St. Jacobs, string them all together and that was our route for the day.
0:07 – Santa Passes me
0:17 – Riding through morning mist
0:41 – Santa doesn’t like to hold hands
1:02 – I pass the Motoress Mobster and Santa
1:12 – The Motoress Mobster passes me
As the day wore on however, so did the shine of a fun day riding the scooter. Later in the morning, my teammate crashed. At lunch I learned another friend had gone down. Thankfully both of them and their scooters were fine. As well, navigating 9 pages of directions in 11 point font with 150 turns through 639 kilometres of road is not easy! I didn’t have a map holder on my scooter so I had to keep the map inside my jacket, requiring a stop every time to consult it. My working memory proved reliable only to 3 turns at a time, probably due to the lack of sleep, requiring frequent stops to check the map. Each missed turn (and there were many!) resulted in even more map stops and more time wasted lengthening our day.
Mid-afternoon, somewhere on page 4, the organizers’ promise was broken: it started to rain. We pulled into a Tim Horton’s, and the weather radar indicated the rain would clear in about 30 minutes. It was at this point that half our group would throw in the towel and call in for a pickup. They had accomplished what they had come to do: ride their scooters on some new roads and have fun while doing it.
Now it was just Charles, myself and about 350 km’s of asphalt. It was at this point where my thoughts turned introspective. I’m not really a deep thinker – I’m happiest living in the moment. I had come to the realization that the Scooter Rally was an allegory for life. We start out helpless, where our basic needs are fulfilled by others. We are nurtured and given broad direction but eventually must leave and become independent. Sooner or later we make some bad decisions but are generally going the right way, having to stop periodically to take stock of where we are and where we want to be. Along the way, there are some really good times, but also challenges as things go awry. We have to say goodbye to people whether we want to or not. And sometimes it’s hard, really hard. It’s dark and rain is coming down, and you’re not 100% sure if you’re going the right way. You’re so tired, and would love nothing more than to stop and take a break, but if you do, you will not make forward progress. Thoughts of doubt, and questions about who you’re doing this for fill your mind. At your lowest point, you wonder if you should just quit all together.
Without noticing though, you’ve been getting better and more experienced. Then before you know it, you see a light ahead and your spirit rises. You take a brief moment to refuel and also realize you’re not the only one trying to get through this. In fact, you’re not doing as bad as you thought you were! Reinvigorated, you stay the course. You may not reach your goal when or how you thought you would, but you reach it. When you do, you have a quiet confidence and an immense feeling of satisfaction. In my case, I also had the luxury of people being happy for me and patting me on the back for a job well done. And beer.
I came to the Mad Bastard Scooter Rally looking for fun. What I found was the real Mad Bastard, and I’ve met him before. It’s not simply a reference to the rally participants. When you’re at your lowest point, tired, with no end in sight, surrounded by darkness, yet you carry on with the faith that you’ll reach the end, you’ll meet the Mad Bastard. He won’t pat you on the back, but he will walk (or ride) along with you which is enough for you to know you’re not alone. At some point, he’ll part ways, but you won’t notice because you’ll be preoccupied with being happy. Once when you’ve made it, don’t forget to thank the Mad Bastard and say, “See you next time.”
Special thanks to Carol Anne, Sabina and the rest of the organizers and volunteers for the great route, and a well-organized weekend! Special thanks to Kymco, Ontario Tourism, Motoress, Parts Canada and the rest of the sponsors for making this possible. One final shout out to the local charity, The Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Guelph.