Professional Bull Riding comes to Huntington
The Professional Bull Riding tour (PBR) is returning to the Tri-state at an important time for the riders as they try to make the cut to enter the World Finals in November.
On Friday and Saturday, Sept. 28 and 29, the PBR’s Real Time Pain Relief Velocity Tour will host the Huntington Invitational bull riding tournament at the Big Sandy Superstore Arena. Tickets range from $15 to $80 and more information can be found at bigsandyarena.com and 800-745-3000.
The PBR Relief Velocity Tour is the equivalent of the Xfinity Series in NASCAR, as in it is the second tier of the PBR tours where younger, up-and-coming bull riders rise up to try and make the top level of the bull riding world. That also means that some of the big names in the PBR also get to ride in the Relief Velocity Tour so they can make their way back to the major leagues.
This is a crucial time for all of the PBR bull riders as the World Finals are looming in November. Here is how it works.
All winners of a PBR Relief Velocity Tour event will be allowed to be seeded in a top tier PBR Unleash The Beast Tour tournament. Also, the PBR Relief Velocity Tour will have its own finals tournament in early November so that the top riders in that division can be given a chance to compete in the overall world finals.
The Huntington Invitational is the real deal, providing a much-needed chance for rising bull riders to make their mark. The PBR Huntington Invitational will take place over two days with every rider getting on a bull on both Friday and Saturday. Then, the top 10 highest-scoring riders will ride bulls on Saturday for the win. All of the bull riders come out after every show to meet and greet the fans.
Michael Lane is a PBR bull rider on the circuit from southwestern Virginia, now living in North Carolina. Currently, though fighting an injury, he is ranked No. 1 on the PBR Relief Velocity Tour.
“I had a brother-in-law who rode bulls at an amateur level, yet he never wanted to make a career out of it,” said Michael Lane. “I would go with him and one time I won the ‘Best Dressed Cowboy’ award at an event and won a pony. After they told me as a kid that I was a ‘Best Dressed Cowboy,’ then I wanted to be one. At his events, I noticed that the young kids started riding sheep and my brother and sister both showed sheep at the time in the 4-H. I started riding their sheep as a little kid, and then I started getting on calves and did junior bull riding. I went through the ranks of high school rodeo when I got older and then went on to college rodeo school, but it just wasn’t the thing for me. I tried it just to make my parents happy, but I quit rodeo school before the season started because I knew I just wanted to be a professional bull rider.”
The life of a professional bull riding is as dangerous and rough as one would expect.
“I have been a professional bull rider for 10 years now and have ridden in the ranks of the PBR so I feel very blessed to continue to hold a career in it,” said Lane. “There are a lot of my buddies who I started out with in the PBR that are not there anymore, who just faded out from all of the other directions that you can take when in this career. Some of them wanted a day job so they didn’t have to worry about paying their bills like this, and some wanted to start a family and not have to travel all of the time. Injuries get the majority of us. After you have an injury, the mental game that it takes to come back out is very substantial and a lot of guys can’t overcome it.”
There are times when Lane is scared when bull riding, but is not where you might think it would be.
“If there is ever a time when I am scared on a bull, it is when I am in the bucking chute,” said Lane. “That is where everybody has their trouble. Mentally, you have to keep everything slow enough so you can react to what you are doing, and you can’t get overwhelmed with things. If you get too overwhelmed and too worked up, it all happens fast and then it is over quick and you don’t really know what happened. When I have a bull that is bad in the chute, I have to take extra time to focus on making sure I stay calm, take deep breaths and not let it influence how I’m going to handle my business on the ride.”
The mental aspect of getting on a not-happy 2,000-pound bull is as important as the physical side of the equation.
“On Wednesday, we usually get our draw sheet and find out what bulls we will be riding that weekend,” said Lane. “Some guys choose to not look at that so they can ride the bulls with a clear mind, not knowing who their bull will be. As for other guys like myself, I like to do my homework and know who the bull is and do my research. When it is time to get on a bull, I don’t set any traps or plan anything for what he is going to do. But, subconsciously in my mind, if he does what I have watched him do in videos; all I have to do is follow suit. I feel blessed to still be here and to be in contention to make it to the world finals.”