Not his first time at the SEPTA Roadeo

The annual SEPTA Roadeo, a bus-driving competition, is this Saturday. Credit: SEPTA
The annual SEPTA Roadeo, a bus-driving competition, is this Saturday. Credit: SEPTA

Twenty-five years after SEPTA bus operator Zenon John Rinylo won his first Roadeo, he could have win number 21 under his belt.

Rinylo, a 35-year veteran driver, will compete with about 50 other drivers in the annual SEPTA Bus Roadeo on Saturday, a competition that puts bus operators’ skills to the test in an 11-course obstacle challenge. The winner competes at the state and national levels. The stakes are high this year; SEPTA is the defending champion. And if anyone can do it, it’s Rinylo.

“It’s very difficult,” Rinylo said of the competition.

But it’s not too difficult for this Turnersville, N.J. resident; he’s managed to bank 20 local competition wins, a dozen state wins and two national titles. He also placed third in three national competitions.

He calls his first win—in 1988—his “Cinderella” moment. ”The first time is your most memorable one. I liked the adrenaline rush.”

It wasn’t an easy competition for him that year. Just two days before the Roadeo, his father-in-law died. After the competition, he planned to go home and be with his family but the judges told him he needed to stick around since he was winning. He didn’t win the national competition that year but he did take the title in 1997 and again in 2001 when Philadelphia hosted the competition.

SEPTA’s local competition will be held at 9:30 a.m. this Saturday at Cornwells Heights Station in Bensalem. The course features 11 obstacles drivers must overcome to earn a certain amount of points to move on. Any mistakes? Points are deducted. Judges watch for smoothness of operation, use of turn signals and vehicle checks—something all drivers do each day before their routes.

An obstacle Rinylo calls fun is driving the 40-foot bus through a set of tennis balls strategically placed 12 feet apart with widths just wider than the two back tires of the bus. Rinylo, whose normal SEPTA route is #37, from Broad & Snyder to Chester, said you have to go through the tennis balls without touching any of them.

Left turns, right turns, maneuvering through cones and more round out the obstacles.

“I was just talking to somebody,” Rinylo said laughing, “who said when he first competed, he said ‘OK, this doesn’t look too bad.’ When you get behind the wheel, it’s a humbling experience because it’s very difficult.”

As difficult as it may be, Rinylo is prepared for the challenge to be able to win and compete at next year’s national competition in Kansas City. Just don’t get nervous is his advice.

“You’re your own worst enemy when you’re nervous.”



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Grimm choice: Tax fraud trial could dog NY…

Rep. Michael Grimm may be splitting his time between the campaign trail and a courtroom where he is due to face tax evasion charges.

Local

Met Opera, unions extend talks for 72 hours,…

Met Opera agreed to extend negotiations with its labor unions for 72 hours, preventing a threatened lockout, the organization said late Thursday.

Local

MAP: New York City street closures August 2…

Summer Streets, the NYC Triathlon, the Ecuadorian Parade and festivals will cause traffic delays and street closures in New York City this weekend.

Local

Winning $7 million New York lottery ticket sold…

The only $7 million winning New York Lottery ticket for Monday's Cash4Life drawing was sold at a Queens 7-Eleven, officials said on Tuesday.

Movies

Interview: Brendan Gleeson on 'Calvary' and his very…

Brendan Gleeson discusses how "Calvary" began over drinks and how his priest character is the opposite of the officer he played in "The Guard."

Movies

Interview: Chris O'Dowd does funny and serious in…

Chris O'Dowd talks about "Calvary," an Irish comedy-drama about a priest (Brendan Gleeson) under fire.

Movies

'Alive Inside' and 'Code Black' are documentaries with…

Two new documentaries — "Alive Inside" and "Code Black" — portray different issues but suffer from the same problem.

Music

Caught a Ghost catches a soul/rap vibe

Jesse Nolan says Caught a Ghost's sound aims for two things everybody likes: soul music and '90s rap.

MLB

Yankees land Stephen Drew, Martin Prado at trade…

Yankees land Stephen Drew, Martin Prado at trade deadline

College

Playing the Field: Valentine's Day coupling edition

  It’s Valentine’s Day, a day created by Hallmark to make couples spend loads and loads of money on candy, flowers and gourmet dinners. Or…

MLB

Angelo Cataldi: Ryan Howard deserves better from Phillies

Just last week, Ryan Howard endured the embarrassment of a benching that was inevitable, and yet still shocking.

NFL

Larry Donnell has inside track in Giants tight…

Little-known Larry Donnell of Grambling State currently has the inside track, as the second-year player has received the bulk of the first-team reps.

Career

What do you wear to a career fair?…

Getting that gig starts with presenting the most polished and memorable version of yourself, so refer to our expert fashion advice.

Style

Editors pick: Margiela's finger armor ring

These cool rings from Maison Martin Margiela are designed to overlap over the finger, covering each joint like armor.

Style

Givenchy champions diversity

Riccardo Tisci's uses a variety of ethnically diverse ladies for his spring campaign including Erykah Badu.

Wellbeing

Don't settle for the hotel fitness center with…

Travelers who want to skip the hotel fitness center in favor of local gyms that may offer better equipment, classes and amenities can turn to…