Building a Bike for a Tiger

June 11, 2012

I'm nine years older than my brother, Ryland.

When Ry was three-years-old, I was the designated babysitter. One day, Ryland had to finish his apples before he was allowed to play with his toys. I left him at the table with his apples and when I came back, Ryland was in the living room playing with dinosaurs and there was a plate full of apple slices on the table.

"Ryland, did you finish your apples?"


" Really? You ate all your apples?"


"Are you lyin'?"

And then in the most offended three-year-old way, he said, "I not a lyin'! ... I a tiger."

I died laughing. And he was dead serious. He didn't understand why I was laughing, "What? I am a tiger." To this day, I say it was the funniest thing Ryland has ever said.

Well, Ryland is all grown up now. He just graduated from high school (in an amazingly Texan ceremony) a couple weeks ago -- I can't believe he's 18! Being so proud of him, I decided to give Ry the best present I could think of: A bicycle.

Months ago, I bought an incredibly tall, fixer-upper, vintage road bike off of Craigslist. My bearded manfriend and I set it in the living room and gazed at it as we made the vocal realization that we were going to fix it up for Ryland.

We stripped it down, painted it up, took it apart, crafted it back together, added parts, took away parts, spruced it up, and gave it a name...

That's right ... La Tigre or "The Tiger." It's an Italian frame, so it only seemed fitting.

We are so pleased with how it turned out. The custom lugs and decals, the white bar tape, and my bearded manfriend's old saddle all made this bike as special for me as it was about to be for my brother.

La Tigre traveled down to Texas with us and was assembled at a dear friend's house. (We had to take it on some test spins to a few taco stands.) Days before Ryland's graduation ceremony, he was surprised with La Tigre in our front yard. My little bro could not have been more excited. He wasn't expecting it at all and was just beaming for days.

In the most laid-back 18-year-old way, he said, "This is beyond cool."

It's an amazing feeling to give someone you truly care about a gift you are passionate about and in turn, see their face light up because they, too, just love it. Together, Ry and I rode around Georgetown, Texas (which could use some safer routes, by the way), laughing, sweating, getting slushies, smiling, and basking in the joy that only comes from riding bikes.

Cycling has made my life more vibrant in so many ways; I can only hope it does the same for Ryland ... that feisty tiger.


ART. ADVENTURE. AWESOMENESS wishes to bring enthusiasm to your Mondays every other week. This column is written by Rachel Stevens, a graphic designer at  Adventure Cycling Association.


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