Mike Lee won the 2004 Professional Bull Riders World Championship without winning an event that season.
He has found that consistent groove again this season as the PBR rolls into Kansas City for the 11th consecutive year for this weekend’s Caterpillar Classic at the Sprint Center. The event starts on Saturday at 8 p.m. and continues on Sunday at 2:50 p.m. Lee has six top-10 finishes and five top-five finishes in seven events this season, which accounts for his 350-plus point cushion in the standings over Brazil’s Joao Ricardo Vieira.
“I would rather ride consistent all year long than win events. That’s what I would want, to stay consistent and ride as many bulls as I can,” Lee said. “After that, nothing else matters, as long as I ride my bulls.”
Lee finished third at last week’s event in St. Louis, matching his top finish of the season. That came on the heels of his worst event of the season, a 24th-place showing in Anaheim, Calif. Lee has successful rides in 16 of his 26 attempts this season, which speaks to his consistency. He won the 2006 event in Kansas City
“I believe in my heart that what makes a consistent bull rider is a guy who can take past defeat and learn from it I’m thankful for the mistakes, because I hopefully won’t make that same mistake again,” Lee said. “I’ve been doing this a long time, and I’m still learning. Anytime you have an animal involved, there’s no conquering it completely.”
Lee has learned to find some tranquility between the eight-second snippets of chaos when he’s on the back of a bull.
“I’ve get into a routine and try to keep things simple. I’m not there to impress anybody. I’m out there to please God. If you get to thinking about what other people are thinking and saying, it messes with you. You’ve got to keep things simple and enjoy yourself and what you’re doing. It’s a lot more fun that way, anyway.”
The PBR’s full complement of riders should be in attendance, including 2013 World Champion J.B. Mauney. Mauney, who is fifth in the point standings, missed last week’s event in St. Louis with an injured wrist. Marco Eguchi, who won last year’s event in Kansas City, returns with one win under his belt this season. Joao Ricardo Vieira won last week in St. Louis. Fabiano Vieira is the tour’s only two-time winner so far this season, and he’s fourth in the point standings.
There will be one round of riding on Saturday and another on Sunday. The top 15 riders after the second round advance to the championship round.
Lee will be happy if he’s one of those 15.
“In 2004, I never won an event. One of the gatemen on the chutes, he used to tell me, ‘Mike, you don’t have to win. Just keep nickel and diming them.’” So far, so good.
Professional Bull Riders
• What: Top 35 bull riders will compete on two nights
• When/where: 8 p.m. Saturday and 2:50 p.m. Sunday at the Sprint Center