The Eugene Pro Rodeo’s final day included some exciting pre-rodeo entertainment in the form of motorcycle jumping and cow hide racing. (I also posted some photos of the bull riding that followed). Three of the Metal Mulisha’s motorcycle jumpers were there, and the show was fantastic. These guys could have easily cleared my house with some of the air they were getting, doing freestyle tricks, including backflips, from a launch ramp to a large landing ramp set up in the arena.

Trying to shoot this was fun but challenging. As I’ve mentioned before, I struggle with auto focus constantly latching on to something other than my subject. You’d think this would be easy when the subject is surrounded by little else but sky, but invariably, I’d end up with the top of a tree or a light pole in the frame, and auto focus would find it and not the motorcycle. I managed to get a couple of decent frames, but was disappointed by how many didn’t turn out.

Almost as cool as the motorcycle jumpers was the event that followed — cow hide racing. I’ve been to a handful of rodeos but had never seen this before. Basically, a rider on horseback goes flying the length of the arena with a rope around his or her saddlehorn and a large cow hide tied to the end of it. The rider rounds a barrel at the far end, where a teammate is waiting to dive on top of the cow hide and ride back down the arena. Fastest time wins. It was insane, and a lot of fun.

The hide riders didn’t always land on top of the hide …

… most of ’em held on anyway.

This is how it’s supposed to be done.