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The Mad Bastards are scootering into town

By Shelby Wye

Belleville will be host to a real life game of Mario Kart.

The Mad Bastards Scooter Rally will be taking place, starting this Friday, racing Saturday and then announcing prizes on Sunday.

“I’m 42, work in IT, wouldn’t rate a second glance if you passed me on the street, and yet every two years I strap on a silly outfit and ride overnight on a ridiculously underpowered vehicle,” explained Jamie Leonard, in an email interview.

Why does he do this?  For fun, of course.

He will be travelling to Belleville from Toronto for this weekend.

It is making a stop in Belleville, for the second time since 2004. The rally was here in 2007, with just over 50 entries. Now in 2013, the entries are up to the maximum amount of people allowed: 99.

The weekend starts Friday, where the racers will scout out the area.  Saturday, the race will begin bright and early at 4:30 a.m. Depending on their engine size, the Mad Bastards may return that night…or the next morning.

The Mad Bastards Scooter Rally is the brainchild of Rob Harris and a few of his pals. He is the editor/publisher of Canada Moto Guide online, the first Canadian web-only motorcycle magazine. Harris currently lives in Sackville, New Brunswick.

Like most good ideas, they brewed up the idea of a 24-hour scooter rally over a bottle of scotch.

In 2004, they set out on their first Mad Bastard’s Scooter rally, with five people at the starting line.

At first, they figured that riding a scooter for 24 hours would be mad enough. But now, in 2013, the people who run the Mad Bastard’s rally have entirely redefined what’s mad.

The Mad Bastards Rally challenges its competitors not just to finish the distance the fastest, but also to rack up their scores with “mad points.” In the past, this included answering questions about local sites, to smooching the wait staff when they stop for some food.

They also earn points for their engine size (the smaller, the madder, the more points) and decals on their scooter. Each task is allotted a certain amount of points.

Harris explained that he was most surprised at the amount of people who return to be in the rally again.

“We had expected the rally to be something on people’s bucket list, but now, more than half of the scooters registered are returning riders,’ said Harris.

Leonard is one of those people. He chronicles the event each year, and it receives spotlight on Canada Moto Guide.

“Get a big group together and you’ve suddenly gone from solo lunatic to a movement, a gathering of like minds, and a brief but I think substantial challenge to both convention and to the way we perceive ourselves and others,” said Leonard, “Plus I get to dress up and hum TV action hero theme songs while riding, so win-win all around.”

The event is sponsored by KYMCO Canada, and it supplies the prize of a scooter to whoever wins the most mad points during the weekend. Registration does cost, but the funds go towards Kids Help Phone, a charity that supplies an outreach for any youth who feels like they need to talk about their problems. Their last event, in 2011, raised $15,000.

This year, the mad rally will be hosted by the Travelodge Hotel on Bay Bridge Road. Harris chose Belleville again for the rally because it is interesting to drive around.

“The scooters have limitations, they can’t go on the highways, and we also need interesting roads. We’re driving for 24 hours, the scooter drivers need something to look at,” said Harris.

Harris warns the Quinte County to be safe around the scooters.

“A lot of people panic when they see the scooter, because we are so slow, but we just want people to know to go around us,” Harris said, “We want you to honk and laugh, but just be safe with us. Everything will go fine.”

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