Professional bull rider Bryan Titman was in Portland last week competing in the PBR’s Pendleton Whisky Velocity Tour. Titman has been a professional bull rider since 2011, competing all across the country. Courtesy / PBR

PORTLAND — Cross Insurance Arena traded ice for dirt and hockey goalies for bull riders as the Professional Bull Riders’ Velocity Tour hit Portland last weekend.

It’s a stop bull rider Bryan Titman looks forward to.

Bryan Titman is the third generation in his family to ride bulls. Courtesy / PBR

“Down in Texas there is a rodeo or bull riding every weekend. Up here you don’t see it as much, but it is still a big adrenaline rush for people and something that keeps you on the edge of your seat the entire time,” said Titman.

Robert Simpson, general manager of the Velocity Tour, said the event has come to Portland for the last four years and the city “continues to be a really good second-half stop for us.”

This is the second time Titman, 31, has appeared in Maine this year. Back in March he placed third at the Velocity tour event in Bangor which, he said, was one of the highlights of the year.

“It was the loudest crowd we have been around this year,” said Titman, a resident of East Bernard, Texas, a small community outside Houston.

Simpson said since much of Maine has a strong rural and agricultural character, rodeo sports like bull riding resonates with residents. Stopping in Maine has become something many of the riders, the contractors that supply the bulls, and staff on Simpson’s team all look forward to.

“Maine has a place in our hearts. It is one of our favorite places to visit,” he said.

Titman, currently ranked eighth among participants in the Velocity Tour, began riding bulls professionally in 2011, but his connection to the sport goes back to his youth. 

“My dad and grandfather rode bulls, so it is kind of all I have ever known,” he said, adding he got his start in rodeo sports when he learned to ride a sheep as a 3-year-old.

Titman decided to pursue bull riding professionally after high school, despite having a scholarship offer to play football at Texas Christian University.

“I knew I wasn’t going to be getting any bigger,” said Titman, who is listed as 5 foot 9 and 130 pounds. “I wanted to get back to what my heart loved. Football was just a filler for me in high school. I liked it, but bull riding is in my roots.”

That sport has taken Titman across the country. The weekend prior to the Portland stop he was in Syracuse, New York, and this weekend will be competing in Huntington, West Virginia.

Bull riding hasn’t been without its critics. Animal welfare and rights organizations such as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, state that the sport is dangerous for both the rider and the bull.

Titman disagrees.

“They (the bulls) are treated like royalty,” he said. “They get the best food and water and have nice pens. They are athletes like we are. We wouldn’t be able to do what we do without them.”

 

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