FORT WORTH, Texas - Austin Meier promises this summer will be different.
After staying home the past two summers - with the exception of the Calgary Stampede and a couple of Touring Pro Division events - Meier said this year, he and his traveling partner, Skeeter Kingsolver, are planning to compete nearly every weekend between now and when the Built Ford Tough Series resumes in August.
"We're going to try and win some extra money," Meier said, "and help him get back on tour, too."
The past few weeks, they've been to a few events in Texas, as well as North Carolina.
This weekend, Meier and Kingsolver are headed to Bismarck, N.D., for a TPD event hosted by stock contractor Chad Berger. Ryan Dirteater, Dusty LaBeth and Mickey Andrews are also making this week's trip with them.
The five riders are also part of the Ford Invasion this week, and will be posting updates and videos to FordInvasion.com.
"I always find enjoyment in being around the house and getting lots of work done," Meier said, "but to be healthy and get to go to Touring Pro events, which I love going to, it's something you look forward to. It's fun. It's a little bit different atmosphere than Built Ford Tough events, and whenever you love doing something and you're healthy, you just want to do it all the time.
"Some of those long drives can be fun, especially when you're with your friends and guys that you're close with like family."
Much like the past three years, Meier is ranked in the Top 10 of the world standings. He's currently eighth.
He's been to all 19 BFTS events, covered just over 50 percent of his bulls (30 of 59) and, in the process, recorded eight Top 10 finishes. Five of those have been in the Top 5, including an event win in Billings, Mont.
However, unlike other recent summer breaks, he's healthy.
"It's nice to be able to go to those by choice and not because you have to," Meier said, when asked about the grind of driving to several TPD events each week, as opposed to flying once a week to a BFTS event. "At times, it can get to be a grind and tiring, but most of the time it's a whole lot of fun.
"Any time you can get on in the summer, it's going to keep you fresher come fall - if you can stay healthy."
The draw this week looks a lot like a BFTS event.
Robson Palermo, Kody Lostroh, Mike Lee and Ben Jones are competing in North Dakota, as well as Sean Willingham, Kasey Hayes, Colby Yates, Cody Campbell, Reese Cates and others.
"There will be events this summer where it'll pretty much be straight up (BFTS) guys," Meier said. "There will be a few Touring Pro guys, but other than that, it'll be all Built Ford Tough guys pretty much through and through."
With a full schedule of July events forthcoming, including another trip to the Calgary Stampede for Meier, the Oklahoma native said he and Kingsolver intend to enjoy life on the road.
He said they tend to feed off one another's momentum.
Although the long drives can be exhausting, the difference between events like the one in Bismarck and the events on the BFTS is that riders can focus 100 percent of their attention on what's taking place inside the arena.
There are less television cameras and less media obligations over the course of an event, as well.
"Skeet and I talked about it, and the goal for both of us is that every Touring Pro we go to, we both place at," Meier said. "We might not win every one, but our goal is to place at every one. When you set big goals, big things happen and you get a lot of things accomplished along the way."
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