After racking up back-to-back third-place finishes on the PBR Australia Monster Energy Tour, Lachlan Slade returns to North America this week hoping to keep the ball rolling and qualify for his first PBR World Finals.
Currently ranked ninth in the 2019 PBR Australian National Standings, Slade has covered 39% of his bulls since the Ballarat Invitational in March and is full of confidence ahead of his third trip across the Pacific.
“It feels good you know – It’s a pretty good feeling going into each event knowing you have been riding well,” Slade said. “It’s been good the last couple of weeks – I’ve had some good draws it’s all been going well.”
Slade sits 77th in the PBR World Standings, 320 points shy of his goal of finishing the season inside the top 35 but with the 110 points he has earned in his last two events through 4-for-6 riding and momentum on his side, Las Vegas is well within reach.
After bucking off eight straight bulls in PBR competition, Slade was one of seven riders invited to a Cricket Australia training camp at the National Cricket Centre in the days leading into the Last Cowboy Standing event in Brisbane.
The cowboys studied the similarities between the two sports. From nutrition to mental toughness and grit, the riders learnt how to better prepare for competition. They also learned how they could enhance their athletic performance.
After a committed, but luckless performance for team New South Wales at the PBR Origin event in Sydney the weekend prior, Slade says he took a lot from the camp which helped him improve his mindset heading into the remaining June Cup events.
“A few things they said there made me sit back and think – taking everything too serious and cracking it when I buck off a bull I know I should be riding, overthinking things and that takes the fun out of it.”
“If you are not having fun, there is no use doing it,” the 25-year-old continued. “I just went back to having fun, and it seems to be working.”
The change to a more positive mental attitude paid off almost instantly in Round 1 of Last Cowboy Standing with Slade snapping his lengthy buck off streak with a round winning 88.5 point bull ride aboard Wallace Bucking Bulls Super Natural.
His confidence began to flourish and in Round 2, combined with Silver Lining from Throsby & Russell Bucking Bulls for a further 84.5 points which set up a Championship Round bout with POA Fully Locked and Loaded.
The Dittmann Bucking Bulls bucker got the better of Slade at 4.77 seconds in the final round, but anyone inside the Brisbane Entertainment Center or watching on RidePass could see that the Tamworth cowboy’s morale was sky high. He opened up, and he gave Fully Locked and Loaded everything he had, and while Slade was disappointed with the outcome, he left the arena with a smile on his face and a third-place finish.
Slade carried his momentum north to the Cairns Invitational, winning Round 1 aboard Sick an Twisted from Dittmann Bucking Bulls with 87.5 points. He then added a further 87 points aboard Dunne Bulls’ Rock the House to finish in third place for the second straight weekend.
The Ariat Australia bull rider has been working hard on his physical conditioning, and with the experience of a full 2018 North American summer run under his belt, a fit and healthy Slade is looking forward to getting on as many bulls as he can over the next few months.
“I love getting on bulls – I like the practice and feeling good going into the weekend,” said Slade enthusiastically.
“Going over there, sure you get rodeo sore, but you can’t really complain about it when you have two or three days off and then get to go to another bull ride. That is pretty cool.”
Being able to focus purely on bull riding and not have to go to work on the Monday following an event is something that Slade enjoys about the summer run.
After a disappointing start to his 2018 campaign in Canada, Slade made the switch from an American style bull rope to a Brazilian style which he hoped would allow him to ride with more confidence.
The change proved to be a good one as he went on to record five top-5 finishes over the following five weeks. Slade moved into the top-25 on the Canadian National Standings leaderboard before he returned to Australia to close out his rookie season.
As he prepares to return to Canada for the third time, the Warwick-born cowboy says that the experience and familiarity gained from spending time in on tour overseas in previous years will be a great benefit both in and out of the arena.
“I met a lot of people and stayed with a lot of people last year and made a lot of friends.” said Slade adding, “This time will be a lot easier.”
Lachlan Slade will kick off his North America run at the PBR Canada Touring Pro Division event in Cluny, Alberta on Tuesday before heading to Calgary for three straight days at the Ranchman’s PBR Charity Classic.
You can keep up with Slade’s progress through Canada and the USA right here on Ride the Rage.