Cheyenne, Wyo. Ever gone to the rodeo on Friday or Saturday night in Steamboat Springs and thought to yourself that riding rough stock, roping calves or chasing steers looked like something you might want to do?
The idea of being a rodeo cowboy was something that might have appealed to me once upon a time.
But after spending two days on the rodeo road with some local cowboys, I'm coming to realize that getting run over by a 2,000-pound bull well, isn't all fun and games.
But the guys I was driving with are hooked on the rodeo lifestyle completely whether it's a night out on the town in Cheyenne (something this wannabe cowboy has a hard time doing these days) or if it is competing whenever and wherever they get a chance. You see, the guys I hung out with this week are totally dedicated to the sport they love and that is something you can't always say about the more mainstream sporting figures in our society.
In my short experience with them, I've already learned that these guys are true athletes in every sense. They are in great shape, shake off injuries that would make Cal Ripkin, Jr. cry for his mommy and are generally pretty good-hearted people.
But rodeo is a sport that is completely unique. Outside of the occasional all-you-can-eat buffet (which normally follows a rodeo performance and includes at least one main item, but could also end up just being a fruit plate) life on the road is just that life on the road.
It means arriving in Rawlins, Wyo. at 1:30 a.m. hoping to check into a motel and being forced to drive another hour and a half to Laramie to find a room. It means paying hundreds of dollars in entry fees and then being disappointed when the 8 second ride you had planned making only lasts about 3.5 seconds.
"It's all part of it," a young bull rider named Danny Jendral told me as we made our way up Highway 13 en route to Rock Springs last Thursday for a rodeo. "It's always a gamble."
My four-day excursion into the behind-the-scenes world of rodeo is just that, an excursion. For Danny, and many local cowboys like him, this is a way of life.
He spends hours on the road (not to mention hundreds of dollars of his own money), is fiercely competitive and quite frankly, just like any other professional athlete, hates to lose.
The tough thing is that when you are a cowboy, losing means a lot more than just a check in the win-loss column. If you don't win you don't get any kind of check.
For the cowboy, life on the road is addicting. These cowboys have to be out there competing and are willing to do just about anything they can to play the game. They are also willing to do just about anything for a friend.
After being on the road with them for just a few days I already have a newfound respect for what they do and how they get it done.
However, it's safe to say that I will never give up my day job for a pair of boots and spurs. You see, I'm just not cut out for it and rodeo doesn't run through my blood the same way it does for guys like Jendral.
Sure, I might daydream about it every now and then when I'm watching a local rodeo, but I've already discovered I lack the dedication and drive it takes to be a rodeo cowboy and I didn't even get on the back of a horse or a bull.
Sure it looks like a lot of fun when you see these guys competing or letting off a little steam at a bar. But I think most of the guys who are standing behind the bucking chutes on any Friday or Saturday will tell you it's also a lot of work.
It's also true I'm sure that more than a few cowboys will stretch the truth occasionally when trying to impress a good-looking blonde a few minutes before last-call in just about any cowboy bar you visit. But when it comes to the life they live, their words are normally as good as gold.
As a child I used to dream of being a cowboy after going to Greeley or Denver. These days, however, I think I will leave being a cowboy to the guys who have it pumping through their blood.