I lost a mechanical bull riding competition to my dad, and now I have to write an article about it.
The Sugar Grove Volunteer Fire Department celebrated its 80th anniversary over the weekend; among the festivities was a mechanical bull riding competition.
I had never ridden a mechanical bull before - much like I had never entered a jiu-jitsu tournament before last month. Sports Editor Jon Sitler called and told me about it: "You're the only one young enough, athletic enough and stupid enough to do it. Are you in?"
Photo by Nick Church
(Editor's Note: I don't remember those exact words - Jon)
I, of course, said yes.
Not wanting to make a fool of myself alone, I dragged my older brother Ben along.
Before we could ride the mechanical beast, we had to sign our lives away on waivers and acknowledge that the company wasn't responsible for loss of teeth, broken limbs, concussions, etc.
We tried to get fellow Sugar Grovian Ryan Hoffman (if the name looks familiar, he is also the assistant Eisenhower track coach) to join, but he insisted he was just there for the show.
There was a short rule explanation by the organizers - one hand on the rope, one in the air, no feet on the ground - and the competition was on.
Ben was second up and lasted 10 seconds.
Because we're brothers there are always people that assume there's some amount of sibling rivalry. It's really not like that. It's not like my only goal was to beat him.
But I did.
With a ride of 36 seconds.
And now he owes me five dollars. Just saying.
After our first rides (the competition was two ride times added together), my dad showed up to watch us embarrass ourselves.
Since the first round wasn't over, my brother and I joked that Dad should join the competition.
First we joked and then we panicked when my Dad and Ryan Hoffman made their way to the sign-up table.
Pretty soon we had two late entries into the competition.
Until that point, my 36-second ride was number one on the guys' leaderboard.
With the late entries, I was soon surpassed. By a lot.
My dad posted a minute and twenty seconds and Ryan was way over that.
For the second round riding the bull, the difficulty level was "cranked up," which didn't help my efforts to regain some pride.
After 18 seconds on the harder difficulty, I gracefully dismounted - it's my story so I'll tell it how I want to. At the end of the competition, I sat in fourth with 54 seconds of riding.
Fourth place isn't bad for my first time grabbing the bull by the horns, but I got beat by two people that will make sure I never forget.
Dad got second with one minute and fifty-six seconds and Ryan got a crisp hundred-dollar bill and first place with his two minutes and twenty-five minutes of riding time.
After the grief my brother and I had given him for not initially signing up, I suppose it came as no surprise when the tables were turned.
"It feels totally beyond comprehension to beat teenage kids that I've known for a long time," Ryan said, with just a hint of satisfaction in his voice.
"I've never done this before; I was guilted into it by these same teenage boys," he added.
But I take offense to that. I'm 20; I'm an adult, even if I can't beat my old man in a mechanical bull riding competition.
Still, I can't be too upset. At least the money is going to a good cause.
"I'm going to use the $100 I won for the gas fund for my church's trip to CreationFest in Mount Union," Ryan explained.
In the girls' division, Ashley Blair set the standard and gave the whole competition a lesson in bull riding, finishing with two minutes and thirty-three seconds of ride time - an impressive feet made even sweeter by the fact that her brother, Andy, managed just 30 seconds on the bull.
When I talked to Ashley afterwards, she was thrilled about beating her brother and winning one hundred bucks.
"It feels awesome, beyond incredible. I'm going to rub this in forever," she said.
Andy, on the other hand, wasn't as thrilled.
When I asked him what he thought of his sister's win, "I better not comment" was his only answer.
All in all, it was a lot of fun and I came out with a few lessons learned. If you're going to ride a mechanical bull:
Wear shorts because your skin will stick and help you out.
The shorter the shorts, the better the ride.
Don't encourage anyone else to join the competition.
Don't let your dad know about the event.