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

MAP: New York City Street Closures August 22,…

The Percy Sutton Harlem 5K and NYC Family Health Walk-a-thon and Pakistan Day Parade and Fair will cause traffic delays and street closures in New York City this weekend. Plan…

International

U.N. nuclear inquiry on Iran seen making slow…

The U.N. nuclear watchdog appears to have made only limited progress so far in getting Iran to answer questions about its suspected atomic bomb research, diplomatic sources said on Friday,…

National

Violence-weary Missouri town sees second night of calm

By Nick Carey and Carey GillamFERGUSON Mo. (Reuters) - The violence-weary town of Ferguson, Missouri, saw a second straight evening of relative calm on Thursday…

National

Journalist James Foley's parents, after call with pope,…

The parents of James Foley, the American journalist killed by Islamic State militants in Iraq, on Friday called for prayer and support to free the remaining captives held by Islamic…

Music

Webcast: Watch Polyphonic Spree live on Sunday Aug.…

Polyphonic Spree singer Tim DeLaughter sits with Metro Music Editor Pat Healy for a chat and then the big band performs live. It begins on Sunday at 9:30 pm

Movies

Michael Chiklis on his football past and 'When…

Michael Chiklis remembers playing football in high school and how that prepped him to play a coach in "When the Game Stands Tall."

Movies

Review: 'When the Game Stands Tall' is both…

The high school football saga "When the Game Stands Tall" fumbles around for a focus while Jim Caviezel offers the most low-key coach in history.

Movies

Girlfriend in a coma: Chloe Grace Moretz

Chloe Grace Moretz is the best cheerleader "If I Stay" could ask for. As the star of the film adaptation of the successful YA novel…

NFL

Fantasy football draft guide: How to draft your…

Many are wondering if we’re entering a new age in fantasy football drafting — one where running backs take a backseat.

NFL

Jets vs. Giants: 3 Giants storylines to watch

The Giants have plenty to work on as they reach the dress rehearsal preseason game Friday night against the rival Jets.

NFL

Jets vs. Giants: 3 Jets storylines to watch

Metro looks at three Jets storylines to watch as they play the Giants Friday.

NFL

Giants expected to work Corey Washington into first-team…

The day of reckoning for the Giants' fringe players will fall upon them Friday night against the Jets.

Sex

Big weddings may lead to long-term happiness

Dreaming of a big wedding? A new study indicates that the longer your guest list, the happier you’ll be in the long run. l A…

Sex

Online dating for every generation

Frank Jackson and his mother Maggie are like lots of modern families: They have dinner together regularly, keep each other updated on their lives —…

Wellbeing

Going green could be the key to getting…

If we could just pursue the things that would actually make us happy, we could help the environment too, according to a New York researcher.…

Tech

Siren: A new dating app that puts women…

Online dating can be brutal, especially for single women. Noting that many women hate wading through inappropriate messages and photos, two tech entrepreneurs decided to…