Cycling, football, basketball and baseball are all grand sports, but there's nothing like the intensity of bull riding, where a big hunk of cattle tries to remove a flank strap with its hind legs while a rider tries to stay on for eight seconds. It's very easy to get roped in and cheer for the rider or for the bull, even if (like me) you have never watched bull riding before.
On a whim and a friend's idea, I got a press credential for this weekend's Built Ford Tough Invitational put on by Professional Bull Riders. The media guy, Jack Carnefix, gave me a crash course on the sport and a tour of the facilities. He also granted me fantastic access to the locker rooms, corrals, and the chute. Needless to say I was in journalism heaven. It helped that I ran into The Indianapolis Star's Matt Kryger, who let me borrow his D3 and long lenses on Saturday while he was submitting his photos.
The photos here show two days of bull clones (true story; they're four clones of famous bull Panhandle Slim), rosin on ropes, a true rodeo clown, brave bullfighters assisting the rider, falling, flying, cowboy hats and dirt. You have been warned.