“Within 15 minutes of being out there I knew what I was doing wrong and how to fix it,” Cates said, “so the rest of the time I was out there it was nothing but doing shit right and it was easy. Once I felt the feeling again – of what it was like to do it right – I knew it was going to be easy.”
He got on two practice bulls a day the entire time he was there and, by the time he left the Central Coast of California, the Monster Energy bull rider said, “I was on top of the world.”
Cates went from California to Maine for a lower-level event this past weekend, where he wasn’t even originally in the draw.
He was an alternate.
The call came only a day before flying to the Northeast, where he went 3-for-3 to win the Bangor event in convincing fashion.
He started off with a re-ride option in Round 1, which he rode. In Round 2, he had a bull that turned back both ways the night before, but on Saturday night it stopped right before the whistle. Cates got another re-ride and he rode that one too.
In the short round he had a bull, Team Elk, which bucked him off at 7.4 seconds at an event in Pendleton, Oregon, last July.
Eight months later, Cates was looking for revenge on the opposite coast.
“As they rolled him in there,” recalled Cates, “I couldn’t help but think of something I heard Ty (Murray) say, ‘This is the moment elite athletes dream about. The bases are loaded, it’s the bottom of the ninth and you’re down by one run and there’s two outs and you’re up to bat.’ As I looked at that bull, that’s what came over me. It’s all I could think about.”
Cates added, “I was just excited to be there and having fun. It worked out man. Timing is everything. If I hadn’t gotten cut I wouldn’t feel the way that I do right now, so, as much as I hate to say getting cut was a good thing, it was the best thing that could have happened to me.”
Cates rode Team Elk for 88 points for the win.
Prior to being cut, he only made the whistle once in New York City for 78 points on a re-ride opportunity. As of two weeks ago, Cates was a meager 1-for-19 in 2016.
Now after only one lower-level event, the Arkansas native is heading right back to compete among the elite riders in the world standings having ridden three in a row.
He’ll be in Albuquerque, New Mexico, for a three-day event with a chance to face four bulls.
“I couldn’t ask for anything more,” Cates said. “I think my sponsors and myself are going to get more recognition for the fact that I went from a guy that had ridden one bull out of how many ever I had been on this season. The last bull that I had actually ridden was in Tucson of last year and I got my ass handed to me at the Finals and then all year this year. I think everybody is going to be pretty shocked after I come back."
“I know those are just words right now, but they won’t be just words after I get back.”