BANGOR – Time to break out the cowboy hats. The Professional Bull Riders are in town for the Velocity Tour Bangor Classic.
The Cross Insurance Center just finished playing host to some of Maine’s top high school basketball talent. This weekend, its workers are gearing up for a much different type of event.
“When you’re here and seeing it in person and you know, seeing the dirt fly and stuff like that and hearing the sound effects, it’s a totally different atmosphere than a basketball game or anything else,” said bull rider Tye Chandler.
For Chandler, bull riding was a family affair.
“My dad and brothers, they rode bulls,” said Chandler.
At only 5, he started competing, riding sheep. By the time he was an early teen, he knew what he wanted to do with his career.
“This is what I’m going to do when I turn 18,” he said. “I’m going to go pro and I’m going to make a living out of it and kind of made my mind up then.”
That he did. Chandler joined the PBR in 2018, winning his first event in Charleston, South Carolina. The now 24-year-old said it’s not like other sports but his training is similar to any other athlete.
“In bull riding you want to be fast and strong…your counter moves want to be responsive and really quick,” Chandler said.
Chandler says he uses barrels to mimic the movement of a bull. He even tries to get on a weaker bull once a week to help him practice.
“And it’s a risk, you know cause I mean just me going to get on a weaker bull doesn’t mean that nothing’s going to happen or I’m not going to get hurt,” said Chandler.
It wouldn’t be the first time. He broke his L1, L2 and L3 vertebrae when he was 15 during a practice ride. The danger is always there. It was made apparent just a couple months ago, when fellow rider Mason Lowe died after sustaining injuries from a bull.
“We all have that fear and that worry in the back of our mind,” said Chandler.
Despite the danger, guys like Chandler push forward, using his faith to power him through. All with one goal in mind.
“Be a world champion. Every guy that’s out here is trying to be a world champion and this is one of the stepping stones to get there.” he said.