Bulls on the Beach: Professional Bull Riding brings rodeo to Ocean City

WTOP's Jason Fraley previews 'Bulls on the Beach' (Part 1)

Imagine waves crashing while professional bull riders hold tight to bucking bulls.

The PBR Challenger Series brings Bulls on the Beach to Ocean City, Maryland, for three straight days this Friday at 6 p.m., Saturday at 6 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.

It will be held at the Hugh T. Cropper Inlet Parking Lot at 809 South Atlantic Avenue, located at the southern tip of the Ocean City Boardwalk near Jolly Roger at the Pier.

“It was a long winter with a lot of cold weather, so what would be a better time than to have bull riding on the beach and win money?” PBR Rider Michael Lane told WTOP. “We ride in coliseums pretty much year round, so we kind of get bored with the scenery. … It’s nice to be able to ride outside and hear those waves and breathe that fresh air.”

Lane is currently ranked No. 62 in the world after the most recent season.

“We had our finals already at the beginning of May, so it was a short season for us,” Lane said. “I didn’t go to about eight or nine events all year, so to be 62nd, it worked out good for me. I hate that I didn’t make the Top 35 and get to go to the world finals this year, but I accepted what it is, and I’m ready to work toward next year.”

His personal high ranking is No. 32, having competed in the world finals three times.

“I’ve made five, but because of injuries, I only got to compete in three,” Lane said.

Injuries are a very real possibility every time he takes the saddle.

“As far as injuries and being a professional bull rider, you’re not going to avoid them,” Lane said. “It’s going to happen, it’s just a matter of when and how bad. … In your lowest times is when you learn the most, so when we do have an injury or a setback, that’s really a learning ground. … What we do in that time determines what our comeback will be.”

When does he learn which bull he’s going to be riding?

“They’ll put up the draw [Wednesday or Thursday] and send it through email,” Lane said. “Some guys choose to look at it; some guys don’t. Me personally, I’ll just wait until Friday morning on game day — it’s part of my routine. When I wake up, I look to see what bull I have. That eliminates any thinking throughout the week and helps me keep a clear mind.”

After seeing which bull he’s riding, he tries to keep it confidential.

“I always try to keep that to myself because if you get to talking about it, it makes you think about it more,” Lane said. “When guys are like, ‘Hey, Michael, what you got?’ I just say, ‘I got a good one.’ … Even if it’s a bad one, I don’t tell them. It’s for me to handle.”

What music gets him pumped up to ride?

“You gotta think, we’re in such a new generation now that a lot of younger guys coming up don’t really listen to a whole lot of country. They listen to more rap and stuff,” Lane said. “In the locker room, you really don’t hear country. You hear stuff that gets you excited. … I like rap like Kevin Gates, Kodak Black, anything like that, any kind of hype music.”

Once on the saddle, it’s all about trying to hold on for eight seconds.

“It’s just like you as a kid teaching yourself how to walk,” Lane said. “Naturally, your body doesn’t know how to ride a bull, but over the past 27 or 28 years, I’ve taught my body how. … I train every day to mentally keep my brain so it instinctively knows what to do. If you have to think that bull’s going left or right … you’re going to get thrown on the ground.”

As for the audience, expect an exciting time at Ocean City.

“As a spectator, the sport of bull riding is not like any other sport,” Lane said. “Every time the chute comes open for each guy, we all find out together what happens. None of us knows what’s about to happen, so you’ll share that same adrenaline with us.”

WTOP's Jason Fraley previews 'Bulls on the Beach' (Part 2)

Listen to our full conversation here.

Jason Fraley

Hailed by The Washington Post for “his savantlike ability to name every Best Picture winner in history," Jason Fraley began at WTOP as Morning Drive Writer in 2008, film critic in 2011 and Entertainment Editor in 2014, providing daily arts coverage on-air and online.

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