Every Sunday night, from the safety of their living room Bob and his wife Maryellen watch bullriding. But Bob, an athlete all his life, doesnt just want to watch; he wants to ride!
So he bought a mechanical bull, which he put in his backyard. It is not the kind of plaything you usually see in suburban Boston.
Bob's son Robbie shares his dad's passion. His daughter Caroline shares her mom's skepticism.
"When he tried it, he always fell on his head," said his daughter.
Bob first got a taste for bull riding two years ago while on a trip to Kansas. "I just went flying in the air, landing on my head," he says. Naturally, he loved it.
"My wife said, 'You have to learn to get off,'" he said.
The couple made a deal. Bob will take lessons. If he can stay on a bull for eight seconds, a minimum for an official ride, he can take up bull riding. If he can't, he has to quit.
"I'm hoping this ends his bull riding fantasy," says Maryellen. One other thing: Bob has to increase his life insurance. "If I'm going to be a widow, I'll be a rich widow," she says.
So Bob went to a three-day bull riding camp, for adults, who actually pay for the pleasure of riding and then getting thrown off a two thousand pound angry animal, trying not to get trampled or killed in the process.
"If I can just ride a good bucking bull for eight seconds, if I last eight seconds, I'll have the confidence to continue on with the sport, this will give me an honest evaluation of whether I should continue on," he said before the camp started.
Bob was not alone in his quest. The campers weren't all male either. Web site designer Kim Phillips, 32, also shared the dream. She described bull riding as a thrill. "It's a wild animal in between your legs," she says.
Lyle Sankey runs the rodeo school in rural north Georgia, where he teaches greenhorns how to ride.
A former champion himself, Lyle knows just how tough this sport can be.
"Even if it's not pretty, if I can stay on for eight seconds," he said before his first ride. It wasn't pretty. And it wasn't eight seconds. His second ride was also less than eight seconds.
By the end of the day, Bob was hurting. "I haven't been stepped on, but that doesn't mean when my big butt hits the ground it doesn't hurt," said Bob, who weighs 250 pounds.
On the second day, Bob was out there again. But still without success. 250 pounds doesn't hit the ground soft.
At that weight, he is too top heavy to stay on board a bucking bull. On his fifth try, he fell hard. Afterwards, he said he was seeing stars.
"It does surprise me that people from all walks of life come and try it once, but when they get back on a second or third time, as Bob has done, that's a real measure of where their heart is," says Lyle, who said that Bo has been "real tough."
By the beginning of the third day, Bob was sore: "I got bruises on both sides of my leg. My stomach muscles hurt so much right now."
He had one last chance to last for eight seconds. He fell.
Bob had been battered, bruised and bounced by six bulls But he's not beaten, he's not broken, and despite the deal with his wife, he's not ready to give up his dream.
"I had a ball," he said. "We're coming back, we're coming back, we're coming back."
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