In the big untamed middle of America, summer is rodeo season. It’s the greatest time of year for anyone who loves watching broncos buck, or eating funnel cakes, or seeing linebacker-sized cowboys wrestle steer with their bare hands, or just watching fireworks reflect off metal grandstands for four straight nights.
The American rodeo competition circuit is divided into two main associations -- PRCA for men and WPRA for women -- that organize athletes across eight separate events. All that cowboy-sport takes place in stadiums that attract food vendors and rides and miscellany that share a lot of DNA with county fairs. In many towns each year, the rodeo is the biggest week on the calendar, by far.
Literally hundreds of these take place from California to Florida. The athletes who criss-cross the country might be lucky to recoup their gas money -- or they can score mid-five figures in cash prizes from a single event. So every year the top riders drive almost literally nonstop to rack up rodeo appearances by the dozens. We spoke with several top riders to get their favorites and to get a view from the open road.