PUEBLO, Colo. - It's a rite of passage for professional bull
The summer months are a time when nearly every rider who isn't either injured or ranked among the very top contenders in the world has packed his gear bag for two months of traveling up and down the road to Touring Pro events.
No other factor is as important as the choice of a travel partner.
"Just getting along with them is a big deal," said Shane Proctor. "If they don't have something they're bringing to the table, it's the pits.
"I mean, if you start the day being mad at your traveling partner for being late, it just starts the whole thing rolling, but if you show up and the birds are chirping, the sun's shining and you're good looking, I mean, the day is great."
Colby Yates said he looks for "somebody that's easygoing and fun."
'If you start the day being mad at your
traveling partner for being late, it just starts the whole thing
rolling, but if you show up and the birds are chirping, the sun's
shining and you're good looking, I mean, the day is
He later added, "There are a lot of guys who like to make detours and stuff, and I'm a guy who likes to get there and tend to business. Some guys just like to jack around, and if you have plenty of time, yeah, let's go do something, but it's kind of hard. You have to find the right personality, too."
Yates, a married father of one, is a veteran, and at this point admits that he's set in his ways and less likely to comprise his own comfort simply for the sake of traveling with someone. During the Built Ford Tough Series, he likes rooming with Harve Stewart and Pistol Robinson.
"I have a hard time going with some people," said Yates, who's also roomed with Douglas Duncan, Luke Snyder and L.J. Jenkins.
Like Yates, Austin Meier is particular. He tends to travel with Ryan Dirteater and Skeeter Kingsolver.
Skeeter Kingsolver (left) and Austin Meier have a one-minute rule: If a ride goes poorly, each has one minute to be angry about it.
"Ever since we got in the truck together, we've meshed like
white on rice," said Meier, who's traveled with Kingsolver to
Touring Pro Division events the past two weeks in Texas and North
Carolina. "We get along whether it's been a bad night and we've
both been bucked off, or one guy rode and one guy hadn't. We
understand each other - when to say things and when not to say
"We know what to say," added Kingsolver, who thinks of Meier like a brother. "We know when to get each other pumped up and when to shut up. We have a one-minute rule. If you don't do good, you have one minute to be pissed."
Meier said, "And the guy who doesn't do good doesn't want to bring everybody else down by moaning and pouting around. Our emotions never run too high or too low."
It's easier to travel when things are going well.
It's when both riders are struggling that it can be difficult. Everyone agreed the most difficult situation is when one partner does well and the other one is in a slump.
Meier said the winning rider doesn't want to over-celebrate, just as a struggling rider tries to keep from overdramatizing his shortcomings.
'When you don't click with your traveling
partner, it can be pretty tough.'
He admits that he and Kingsolver are lucky to understand one another.
"When you don't click with your traveling partner, it can be pretty tough," Meier said.
"I like somebody who's ready to go get on a lot of bulls and wants to be on the road," Proctor said. "A lot of guys want to be on the road for three days. They don't want to be on the road for the month."
Proctor said traveling with Stormy Wing last summer was an asset, because he liked being on the road and was always ready to compete.
Proctor managed their schedule and entered them all summer long, while they split the costs and driving duties.
Jerome Davis would have made an ideal travelling partner for Josh Fairlcloth.
When asked about what they look for, Chance
Roberts and Josh Faircloth both said,
"That's a tough question."
Both are young, yet both are aware of the impact a travel partner can have on their careers.
"I'm kind of picky who I travel with because I want to travel with somebody who's got a good attitude and stuff," Roberts said. "Probably J.C. Navarro or Josh Koschel. J.C. doesn't ride anymore, but he's always a pretty good time. He's not too serious of a guy and always having fun."
Faircloth said, "When I look for a traveling partner, I look for somebody who rides way better than me, somebody I can feed off of, and if he does good I do good. I don't want someone who goes every week and gets thrown off.
'When I look for a traveling partner, I look
for somebody who rides way better than me, somebody I can feed off
of, and if he does good I do good. I don't want someone who goes
every week and gets thrown off.'
"You want someone who is going to win."
Had he ridden in the past, Faircloth would have loved to have had an opportunity to travel and room alongside Jerome Davis. "He was one bad cat," said Faircloth, who added that Davis not only is a great person, but he was a winner.
Last week, Faircloth and Proctor rode in their home state of North Carolina.
A week earlier, they traveled together to Texas and spent the trip watching old VHS tapes of Davis and David Fournier.
"When you travel with somebody who's fun to be around and they push you, life's a breeze," Proctor said.
GOING BACK IN TIME
Colby Yates said he always looked up to Clint Branger and tried to pattern his own style after the Montana native. "I didn't quite get that accomplished," said Yates. "You always want to go with somebody who's winning, somebody who has a winning attitude, and he's one of those guys."
Not only was Shane Proctor a fan of Lane Frost, but he also recognized the former World Champion for being a great person. "As much as he did for the sport," Proctor explained, "it would have been pretty neat to just hop in the rig and go."
The influence Troy Dunn has had on Ben Jones is well-documented. "In my eyes he's a legend and the No. 1 bull rider in the world," said Jones. "The confidence I have in Troy helps me."
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