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RODEO Riders to romp at Gund



Published: Thu, February 24, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



The show is sure to offer an adrenaline rush.

CLEVELAND -- Lumberjacks, fishermen and pilots are at the top of the 10 most dangerous jobs in America list.

However, after attending the upcoming The World's Toughest Bulls & amp; Broncs Rodeo event Saturday and Sunday at Gund Arena, you'll be wondering why bull rider is nowhere to be found on the aforementioned list. In terms of peril and danger, attempting to sit on a half-ton, and presumably unhappy, bull for eight seconds is, well, downright suicidal.

"It's an adrenaline rush," said 2004 World's Toughest Rodeo Bull Riding Champion James Crider. "It's something else, something you can't describe. You just have to experience it yourself."

Perhaps similar to bungee jumping, skydiving or juggling rattlesnakes, this is one experience most people avoid from listing on their resume or wanting on their tombstone. So in a nutshell, it must be something like NASCAR?"

"To me, bull riding is more exciting because you never know what is going to happen," Crider said. "Racecar drivers, they just keep driving in circles. Driving that fast would be an adrenaline rush but to me it would be boring after a while. But riding bulls is always exciting because different bulls are going to do different things."

This year's event features 36 of the nation's top cowboy athletes, all participating in bareback, saddle bronc and bull riding competitions. Assisting these animal daredevils of sorts is the rodeo clown, who has the difficult task of saving the riders, making the audience laugh and staying out of harm's way.

Rodeo clowns

Making the task even more challenging is the fact rodeo clowns have to deal with every single bull that comes out of the chute and for longer than eight seconds.

"It's not a hard job," said 32-year veteran Keith Isely. "If you're doing it, I guess that means you love it. You kind of have to have some bull sense. You have to know livestock. It helps to know the bulls to a point." But presumably not one of their points, which have been known to throw a clown or rider aerial from time to time.

In addition to his rodeo clown role, Isely also participates in the trick animal exhibitions -- dogs, horses, et al. - that are staged periodically throughout the rodeo events. While he's busy during the entire show, it's his clown duties that require his undivided attention. With only a padded barrel as protection, Isely will see the rider to a safe haven but oftentimes goes for a ride himself.

"I've had bulls that hit it, roll me around and stick a horn in and pick it up with me in it," Isely said. "That was really not my favorite part."

So how would this barrel ride compare to say going over Niagara Falls?

"At a high rate of speed, I'd rather go over Niagara Falls," Isely said. "At least you know how bad that's going to hurt."

While both Isely and Crider are out for personal gain, they both understand the audience is hoping to see a few close calls to satisfy its thrill-seeking interest.

"My object when I get there is to ride my bull and hopefully the crowd enjoys it," Crider said. "I want to make a good ride, and I'm sure they might want to see a wreck, but I don't want that because usually when it's a wreck, that's when you get tore up and hurt. It's bull riding so, of course, you're going to get hurt. Stitches and broken bones, I've had them all."

He quickly added, "I love it."




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