Pro Bull Riders tour Oct. 9-10 at ShoWare Center in Kent
By STEVE HUNTER
Kent Reporter Courts, government reporter
October 7, 2010 · 10:22 AM
Auburn resident Myron Duarte won't let his age get in the way of a few more bull rides.
Duarte, 42, competes along with about 30 other riders in the Professional Bull Riders Kent Invitational Touring Pro Division Saturday and Sunday at the ShoWare Center.
Most riders are in their 20s and early 30s.
"A lot of guys retire in the their mid-30s," Duarte said in a phone interview. "I'm still craving it like I was 18."
Duarte lives for that moment when the gate opens to release the bull and he tries to get an 8-second ride in order to score points from the judges.
"It's something I got attached to, said Duarte, an 18-year-pro who grew up and learned to ride in Hawaii. "It's the adrenaline of man versus beast."
Make that "small man versus huge beast." Duarte is 5 feet, 7 inches tall and 145 pounds. The bulls weigh up to 2,000 pounds.
But that's the showdown fans come to see.
"It's an action-packed event," Duarte said. "Every time the gate shoots open someone could lose their life. The bull weighs 1,800 pounds, has big horns and wants to hurt somebody."
Despite riding bulls for 18 years, Duarte has yet to suffer a life-threatening injury. He has had numerous knee and shoulder surgeries because of injuries, including a torn ACL. He considers a broken jaw one of his most serious injuries.
"I've had a pretty good, injury-free career," he said. "The shoulders and knees are not too serious. They put me out for a while, but an injury to the head is more serious."
The Touring Pro Division is the minor tour of the PBR. But it offers up-and-coming bull riders, as well as riders such as Duarte who are competing in the Build Ford Tough Series, a chance to compete in sanctioned events, earn money and get a shot at moving up to the 40-rider elite series and the PBR World Finals.
Duarte took most of last season off. Now he wants to take a run at making next year's PBR World Finals.
"I'm ready to go hard again," he said. "I got tired and burnt out after rodeoing for 18 years and being on the road so much. I needed a break."
Duarte moved in 1997 to Auburn, where he lives with his wife Caitie, who is from Auburn, and their two young sons. Duarte left Hawaii to attend college at Eastern Oregon State College in La Grande and then decided to stay in the Pacific Northwest to chase his dream of being a pro bull rider.
"I have a bunch of sponsors in Hawaii and go back yearly," Duarte said. "My cousin rodeoed in Hawaii and I followed in his footsteps and then took it to another level."
Duarte had his best year in 2003 when he finished fourth in the world standings with $145,308. He ranked 11th in the world standings with $101,208 in 2004. He has qualified eight times for the national finals.
Fans who check out the two-day tour in Kent can expect to see about half of the riders or so get knocked off bulls before their 8 seconds are up.
"The average is about 55 percent," Duarte said about how often riders stay atop the bulls. "But it depends on the caliber of the bull you're getting on. If they are elimination-type bulls, the percentage drops."
Fans can count on the riders and more than 40 bulls to entertain them.
"This is not a beginner's league," Duarte said. "There are so many young kids coming up. The names change, but the talent will be there."
The featured riders to watch include Dusty Ephrom, 30, Kyle Wallgren, 25, and Pete Farley, 21.
And a 42-year-old cowboy who plans to keep on riding.
"Until my body tells me it's time," Duarte said about how long he plans to keep competing. "I feel my body is ready to get on a bunch of good bulls."
If you go
What: Pro Bull Riders tour
When: 7:30 p.m. Oct. 9; 2 p.m. Oct. 10
Where: ShoWare Center, Kent
Cost: $47 gold, $37 premium, $27 reserved, $12 (ages 2-12)
Tickets: www.showarecenter.com or 253-856-6999Contact Kent Reporter Courts, government reporter Steve Hunter at firstname.lastname@example.org or 253-872-6600, ext. 5052.