Thursday, May 14, 2009

Tyler's Blog

Tyler's company (Sweet Leaf Tea) had a blog contest to win a guitar and Tyler had an entry. I might have helped him a little with my expansive vocabulary and hilarious wit. :) I asked him if I could post it on my blog and I got the ok - I will let you know when he wins (I think he should anyway)! Enjoy - and let me know if you think he should win too!

Sweet Ticket
- Tyler Rohr, Houston ASM

Last year I was a first time rider in the MS 150 and I loved it. I joined the Sweet Leaf Team last minute when someone else wasn’t able to go. For many, having not trained at all would have been a problem, but I thought I could handle this thing. I was in shape, worked out, played softball and basketball regularly, no big deal! I received a very rude awakening when I woke up in La Grange on day 2 to discover that my legs had turned to mush and I thought it would be near impossible to get back on that torture machine of a bike for another 70+ miles. But, I did it, and I had a great time, despite the pain.

I promised myself that this year I would sign up ahead of time, train at least a month, raise the money for MS patients, and invite a friend to ride with me. And I picked a good one, the best actually. I invited my friend Kelley Rice (the infamous type of person that goes by his first AND last name) to ride with our team. Kelley is the type of guy that you could call on Friday at 6:00 p.m. for a weekend road trip to Las Vegas and he would say, “Can you wait 10 minutes, I gotta get some gas.” He is always up for something exciting and I knew he would not say no, I am not even sure if “no” is a word he is familiar with. He is one of those spontaneous, outrageously funny people that give you a good time whether you are looking for it or not.

When I told him I was going to rent a bike for $50, he had to one up me getting something cheaper. He succeeded in this venture by finding a used road bike on Craig’s List that he bought for a grand total of $40. He also mentioned that through his stellar bargaining skills he talked the ominous salesman (think south Houston’s own version of the Green Mile monster) down by 33%. No beating that, right? Wrong. Oh, so wrong.

This thing was a wreck. It was older than him; “date unknown” was how he so stealthily explained it. It was red, well; it was back when Jimmie Carter was in office. It has faded since the seventies to a lovely shade of fuchsia. The brake tubes had been kissed by the sun to a hue similar to that of a carnation pink crayon (you remember – the one you used in grade school). But, best of all was the fact that it was a bike made for a woman. No offense to any of you women’s lib activists, but this is a 6’, 230 pound man cramming every bit of his man body on a bike designed for a much smaller person.

Now, none of these things discouraged Kelley – he was so proud! He got a steal of a deal, and he bragged to everyone! He named her (the bike is of the female persuasion, didn’t you know?) Sweet Ticket. He took her for jaunts around town to make sure she ran well and he saw no obvious major problems, except of course the size and beautiful color, which to him were no big deal. The pink brakes were a little rusty and there was a subtle squeaking sound if he got going too fast, but he thought those things could be ignored. Fortunately, after weeks of my urging he was finally convinced to take her to a bike shop and have her checked out.

The best way to explain the showdown at the bike shop is to dictate this conversation just as Kelley so eagerly shared it with me (and anyone else who would listen)…

Kelley (Swaggering in the shop with every ounce of proud for Sweet Ticket that he can muster, approaching the salesman who is already amused) Hey, man. I am riding is the MS 150 next week and I need to get this bike checked out.

Salesman (bemused) You are riding that in the MS 150?

Kelley (shocked, how dare he hurt Sweet Ticket’s feelings, she can hear you!) Yeah, what’s the problem? It’s a good bike, maybe not beautiful, but I’ve been riding it around and haven’t had any problems. (as he proudly pats the crusty, grayish vinyl seat)

Salesman (sounding condescending) You can’t ride that all the way to Austin.

Kelley (with a look of wonder and hurt) Are you saying that the bike won’t make it or that I can’t do it?

Salesman - No man, the bike is actually in pretty good shape, but it is outdated, and you won’t be able to finish the race on it. But, let’s take a look and see what is going on and how we can tune this thing up.

Kelley (Trying to muffle his anger so that Sweet Ticket won’t see him lose it) Listen man, just get me some new tires that will be okay and take a look at the brakes, other than that I think the bike will be fine and I know that I can make it. (Propping up his kickstand and storming off)

A few days later Kelley went to pick up Sweet Ticket and called me to go with him to Sun and Ski Sports to get gear for the race. He was, following in true fashion, looking for the best deal on his gear. He found some riding shorts on sale and then went looking for a helmet. The cheapest helmet the store had was a skateboarding helmet. And, he got it. No worries that it was what he was going to be riding in one of the state’s biggest BIKE races, it was cheap and it protected his noggin, so to him it made no difference. Just for giggles it had a cartoon of a dog sticking it’s tongue out (take that you slow pokes, eat my dust!).

After that he topped off the preparation for the race by purchasing a completely necessary accessory that no proper biker should go without. He wanted to get a spare tire, but because of the age of the bike and the specialty tire that it needed, he was going to be paying more for the spare than this entire endeavor was costing him. So, he left the tire aisle and headed for none other than the bells. That’s right, a bell. The “zing zing, zing zing” little metal bell that attaches to the handle of a 10 year old’s bike.

So, needless to say, when the time came he was ready, more ready than anyone I know. I called him Friday afternoon when I heard the first day was cancelled and he was truly crushed. The rains and storms and floods had ruined all of his hard work and preparation. We decided that if day 2 was cancelled we were going to bike down to Galveston and back just so we could get good use of our bikes and gear and represent for the MS Society. Of course, Kelley also wanted to prove to the world that Sweet Ticket was worth every penny (and then some) and that she could do it and so could he.

Thankfully, we did get to drive to La Grange and bike the last 80 or so miles to Austin on day 2. There was no time during that day that me and my $3,200 rented bike had to wait on Kelley and Sweet Ticket. After one wreck (not his fault, of course) and replacing four brake pads, we finished in Austin with our heads held high, Kelley’s highest of all. I haven’t known Sweet Ticket for the entirety of her life, but have no doubts that her proudest moments were flying past riders down the hills of Bastrop State Park and making sure that they knew what just happened, “Zing Zing, Zing Zing!”

Kelley and Tyler at a rest stop (notice the helmet :))
Sweet Ticket standing tall and proud (see the pink break tubes?)


Jodi said...

love it! Good luck!

The Marvin Makings said...

That is Great!! I wish I could hear Tyler tell that story in person!! I hope he wins!!