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"Night at the Rodeo"
Big, Bad, Bull!
"Steamy Night In Georgia"
It was a hot, muggy night in Georgia.....The stench of manure was in the air, but the excitement was all around! It would be an interesting night for me and my buddy Andy. The year was 1995, and I was looking for my usual adrenaline rush. Andy and I had been training for some time on mechanical bulls at a local hangout, but I wanted more. I wanted to feel the power of a massive bull, I wanted to see if I had what it took to, as they say..."Ride for Eight." We were sitting around one night after riding the mechanical bull, and Andy dared me to find a place with bulls, and to ride one. He didn't think I'd do it, but he didn't know me too well either.
At the time, I was serving in the USAF as a medical technician. I loved danger, so I tried hobbies that kept me on the edge. Motocross, Enduro's, etc. kept me busy on weekends and then the bull riding dare came into play. I finally found a ranch in GA. that would allow anyone to try their hand at it every Tuesday night, rain or shine, as long as you signed the waiver so you couldn't sue them if you were hurt or killed. My girlfriend at the time was nervous, but she knew I was going to do it no matter what she said. The time finally came....I drove from South Carolina to meet them in GA. for the ride of my life. Like I mentioned earlier, it was a muggy, hot night and the sweat was pouring off of me as I stepped into the trailer to sign up. They dropped our names into a hat and the bull's names into another. I knew some of the bulls were mean, and I prayed I didn't get the worst of them. One by one, they called our names and then the bull's name. Here it was, my name was called.....The anticipation killed me, waiting to hear which bull would have the honor of kicking my ass around the arena. "Red Alert" was the lucky one.....He was a massive animal, around 2000 lbs. and he had the look of a killer! I walked behind the chutes, and found him in the holding corral, showing his dominance over the other bulls. He was bigger than all the others in that corral, and his back seemed as wide as a sheet of plywood. A lump grew in my throat, and I could feel my stomach churning as well.
I knelt and prayed for a safe ride, and for me to reach the safe haven of the chutes once I was thrown or after jumping off of Red Alert. I looked into the crowd to find my support....She had her head buried in her hands, praying Andy or myself wouldn't be killed. Finally, she saw me and waved until I turned and walked back to the riding chutes. It wouldn't be long now, since I was in the second round. The crowd was going wild, and a few cowboys had had their bells rung already. That didn't go over too well with me, and I tried not to think of it. I had trained for this moment for over a year. I kept going through my routine....Sit up straight, lift on the rope, chin tucked, toes out, and keep lifting for the stars!!
The time had come!! "Randolph! You're in chute one on Red Alert!" My stomach tossed and turned, and I instantly dry heaved as my nerves took over. I finished heaving behind the chutes, cleared my throat, and my mind....I was now ready, in the zone, and focused. It was like nothing else mattered now....I went through the motions one more time before stepping over and down onto Red's wide back. His muscle's were ripped and I could feel his power just sitting on his back. My legs felt like I was sitting on an elephant's back, that's how big this bull really was...HUGE! He blew and snorted, anxiously awaiting that moment when the gate would bust open and he'd take off like a rocket.....I wrapped my rope around him and Andy pulled it tight as I wrapped my left hand into the suicide wrap. "What was I thinking?!!" I pulled my hat down tight, said a quick prayer, and looked out in the crowd one last time for a last good-bye to my girlfriend. It was now or never.....The chute boss screamed, "You ready cowboy?!!" I screamed back at him...."Hell yes, open the gate!!"......I heard him yell, 'Cowboy Up!", as he opened the gate!!! Red busted out of there like a locomotive, almost leaving me in the chute! He jumped high off the ground, bucking right, then left, all the while twisting sideways, rolling his belly to throw me off. I turned with him every chance, I spurred him on each jump, and held tight as he turned into my hand, giving me the advantage to ride for eight. The roar of the crowd gave me the boost I needed. Finally, I could feel my hand losing it's grip with each passing second. I was almost there, 4....5.....6.....7.....7.1.....7.2 seconds and I flew off his right side right into the fence. My right arm caught a post and at the same time, his rear right hoof met with my groin area, NOT GOOD! He turned, looked me in the eye, as to say "Good job Cowboy", and turned back to disappear into the corral for his champion's pile of hay. I, on the other hand layed on the arena floor, bruised and battered but happy that I had done it without being killed. Andy was slapping me on the back for the ride, since his lasted only a split second. "You did it man, you did it!!"....he screamed. The bruises and girlfriend lasted for another month, but the memories will last a lifetime. I rode many more bulls over the next two years, only breaking a wrist and being knocked out twice.....I was one of the lucky ones as they said, "It's not IF you get hurt, but when and how bad." I'll never forget those days, the good, the bad, and definitely the ugly! Cowboy Up!!