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Simon "Frizz" Frizzell sneaks away to the rodeo on weekends, and it's not until after he wins a buckle that he tells his parents about his bull-riding. He knows they.
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Loading, please wait Free 2-Day Shipping. This item isn't sold in stores. Help us improve this page. About this item. Specifications Number of Pages: Description The Bullriders: Book Two Simon "Frizz" Frizzell sneaks away to the rodeo on weekends, and it's not until after he wins a buckle that he tells his parents about his bull-riding.

Young bull riders dare to ride the best athletes in the world | The Taos News

On this first Friday night of the competition, the air was tight with adrenaline. To insure fans don't leave early, the P.

An hour before the bulls were loosed, the riders funneled their nervous energy into ritual. They scraped rosin chips along their suspended bull ropes, to make sure their hands wouldn't slip. They hammered the locked rowels of their spurs, to keep them rough enough to grip a bull's hide without cutting. Actual spurring is optional, as the bulls need no encouragement for mayhem.

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Then a small, round, fortyish man, resplendent in gray jacket and neckerchief, blew into the room with an unmistakable nasal blast. Tension broken, the riders eased back into their normal routines.

A Daring Ride

Ted Nuce, the chubby crowd pleaser who won the title in , stretched his hamstrings. Branger simulated a ride, his free arm unfurling like a martial artist's. Tuff slapped his riding forearm, and that was it. He was high on his chances; he'd won money twice before on his draw, a feisty animal named Tiny Tim Skoal, who weighed a mere 1, pounds, three-quarters the norm. At Tuff set a strip of tape on the palm of his riding hand.

At he donned his silver and lavender chaps, to cushion his legs against a fall, and joined the line striding out to the arena. There the contestants would mount a narrow platform behind the chutes and wait their turn. As the riders receded down the corridor, the bells that weight their ropes set off a melancholy clanging. He looked out at their backs, his envy transparent. McDonald likes to group the first night's draws from the "nice" pen -- easy bulls at this level, but ornery enough to buck off most cowboys during the regular season.

On this night, all 15 riders would make the horn, or "whistle," signaling an eight-second ride -- an unheard-of development. Sharp turned in his standard overpowering performance, his frame as steady as a Remington bronze. An 81 tied him for third. Nuce windmilled his way to an 83, and pumped his fist to his fans. Ty Murray won the round or "go-round," as it's called with an 84, taking a narrow lead.

Preparing the brain for the bull, riders say don't think about it

As for Tuff, Tiny Tim proved a disappointment, losing interest five seconds in. The only excitement came after Tuff dismounted, and the minibull sneaked up from behind and goosed him three feet into the air. Tuff sprawled in the dirt, unimpaired save for the grit behind his contact lenses. But his paltry score of 74 beat only one rider. Tiny Tim "had a bad day," Tuff observed. Back in the dressing room, where the cowboys gathered to critique their rides on video, the post-mortems were spiked with long barbs.

Tuff gibed Nuce for his free-arm histrionics: "Ted's doin' that windshield wiper, the ham! When Tuff's close encounter with Tiny Tim hit the screen, the room filled with whoops and laughter. It was the first time in eight National Finals that Tuff had even been touched by a bull -- testimony to the bullfighters, who, in their clown regalia and greasepaint, save the riders' necks by risking their own.

Not every bull is homicidal; some of the fiercest buckers will trot harmlessly off after a rider is down. But, by most estimates, two of three National Finals bulls are mean enough to hook a rider when opportunity knocks, and half of those will go out of their way -- from as far off as 40 yards -- for the sheer joy of assault.

Branger wasn't so fortunate.

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As he dismounted, his bull dropped on top of him, mashing his ankle. Maybe it was Branger's swollen foot, or maybe it was the beers he and Tuff were guzzling, but late that evening at their hotel the talk turned to an absent friend, to the missing cowboy: Lane Frost.

From the moment Tuff met Lane at a national high-school tournament in , they were natural rivals. Born seven months apart, they shared the same goal: to be the world's best bull rider.


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Tuff was still in his ugly-duckling phase -- Coke-bottle glasses, untended teeth -- and had yet to come into his own as a cowboy. He envied Lane for what he himself lacked: a senator's charm, fragile good looks, an unfailing cheeriness and an elegant riding style all the Oklahoman's own, down to the long brown feather in his hat. About his college years, Tuff said: "Lane was the guy I wanted to be, and wanted to.


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  • It wasn't until , after Tuff had established himself, that the two became friends and traveling partners. Sharp joined them in , and Branger the following year. That foursome laid waste to many a rodeo; upon arriving, they'd draw stares like the James Gang muscling through the doors of a saloon. If he'd been bucked off tonight, he'd be kickin' the wall and throwin' this over. You know, I have a lot of shortcomings; I can be negative and hateful.

    Lane was the best thing that ever happened to me. I'm a lot better person from the things I learned from him. In , the year following his world title, Lane took on the great Red Rock, whom no one had ever ridden to the horn, and bested the bull in an incandescent, seven-ride series that still stands as the sport's summit. At this stage, aficionados say, Lane was unrivaled for riding the rankest bulls. He had fused Tuff's "try" to a formal correctness.

    At the age of 24, he had entered the pantheon. The following July, in a grim drizzle at the Cheyenne Frontier Days, the world's largest outdoor rodeo, Lane battled a ferocious animal known as Bad to the Bone.


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    • He made a masterly ride and a clean dismount, but was slow to gather himself in the mud. He was on his knees when Bad to the Bone hooked him from behind the first time, on his face when the bull came again, to dig a horn into his back. Lane staggered to the chutes, beckoning for help, then collapsed. A broken rib had notched an artery.

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      Tuff rushed to his friend with several others, but there was nothing to be done. Lane went out in typical style, the cowboys would agree in the years to come. He scored an 85, and won a check he'd never cash. In death, Lane became a regional Elvis. As the surviving alter ego, Tuff had to listen to all the memorial poems and songs, the hackneyed media nostalgia. Tuff drank a little more, sowed a deeper mean streak. Lane had been the one person who could set him straight, whether about a riding flaw or some flash of pigheadedness. But while Tuff will always shoulder his loss -- "Oh, I'll never get over it," he said -- he managed to exorcise his grief at the National Finals, five months after his friend's death.

      Tuff had already called his shot, audaciously vowed to win the title in Lane's memory. Not surprisingly, it came down to the 10th bull. Tuff knew he had to score to win the buckle. Tuff made the whistle -- and then rode an extra eight seconds to honor his fallen comrade. Only three riders made the horn that night, and the rest were lucky to escape with their skins. Burly Marty Staneart had perfect position when Skoal's Ricky jerked its head up and opened a two-inch gash in Staneart's chin.

      Ervin Williams, the lone black cowboy in the field, was 7. Troy Dunn, the Australian champion built like Crocodile Dundee, got his calf stepped on; Norman Curry, an unorthodox, squirming rider who'd outlasted all 10 bulls the year before, aggravated a sore shoulder. Cody Custer got hung up, knocked out, hooked three times and trampled -- a cowboy's worst nightmare, as a bull's hooves are far more lethal than its horns. Packed out on a stretcher, he somehow escaped with a mild concussion. While Custer lay pale and woozy in the medical room, other cowboys were triaged in the corridor.

      Afterwards, Tuff sat watching the carnage on videotape, amid a dressing-room sea of Ace bandages and ice packs. He wore a boot on his left foot and a sock on his right. His own adventure had ended abruptly. Just after the gate opened, Dr. J had "hipped" himself as he turned out from the chute, banging into an iron panel. Tuff's spur hung up in the rail with such force it sheared off. His ankle twisted clear backward, and now it throbbed like a Texas two-step, swelled big as a fist.

      Though famous for playing with pain, Tuff was anxious about the next morning's X-rays. A broken ankle would be an undeniable nuisance. As usual, few of these incidents were life-threatening. Bull riders most commonly hurt their groin and thighs, since men were not made to straddle so broad a back.

      But head injuries are not uncommon, and rarely a year goes by without some out-and-out catastrophe. Over the last 20 years, McDonald can count seven bull-riding fatalities -- "and that's just my personal friends.