Forgive Jake Wade if he doesn't impress his local convention and visitor's bureau with his perspective of his hometown of Alamo, Nev. While it's not his intention to put down his stomping grounds, he just didn't have a whole lot of things to point out.
"What's in Alamo? Not much," Wade said. "There's a high school and a gas station. And my dad has a tack shop called Broken W Cowboy Gear. That's about it. I mean, I like it here. It's small and quiet."
Wade, 22, and sporting a quiet temperament with his small, 5-foot-6, 135-pound frame, perhaps is a nice fit for such a town. Set in the Pahranagat Valley just 100 miles north of Las Vegas, Alamo (pop. 900) once was a prime range for horse thieves who stole livestock in Utah and Arizona and needed a respite before continuing their journey across the desert and into California.
Wade isn't one to steal, but riding bulls is helping him make a name for himself as he hopes to end a journey-filled 2006 season 100 miles down the road at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in December.
He got off to quite a start by parlaying three qualified rides into an aggregate title at the Bullnanza-Guthrie, the first PRCA Xtreme Bulls event of the season. With already more than $20,000 in the bank thanks to his Guthrie efforts, Wade is near the top of the ProRodeo Cowboys World Standings and Xtreme Bulls standings.
He knows better than to get too excited. But his parents are another story.
"To me, it's still the first of the year, and I just want to stay in the top 15," Wade said. "But my parents are pretty excited, more than me. After Guthrie, they printed out the world standings and sent them to me. I mean, I already knew I was leading, but they couldn't help themselves."
Now, Wade, the middle child of five, hopes to further pad his wallet and bring more excitement to his parents in their small town of Alamo.
Can the town take it?
"Hopefully. We'll see," Wade said. "I didn't do any good in San Antonio. I'm headed to Tucson after that. But I'm living the dream. When you can win $20,000 in 24 seconds, you can't beat that."
Wade, a student at the University of Nevada Las Vegas, hopes to balance college rodeos with Xtreme Bulls events and PRCA rodeos, at least for the first half of the year. The fourth-year bull rider is finally enjoying a little success after having the first three seasons short-circuited by, well, not much success.
The sign of that was finding Wade changing tires at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway's Richard Petty Experience.
"Yeah, I worked part time there for almost two years," Wade said. "I'm not a huge NASCAR fan, but my sister married a guy who is. He helped me get into it. It was work, but I hope you don't find me around there anytime soon."
But Wade does long for an extended visit to Las Vegas, namely the Thomas & Mack Center. While he's not superstitious enough to avoid the event altogether unless he's a contestant, Wade employs another tactic that determines if he's a spectator at the world's premier rodeo.
"I don't buy tickets, but I've been able to get some from friends and people the family knows," Wade said. "I've been the last couple of years to watch for one night. Vegas is a nice place to visit, but I'm not sure I'd want to live there. I like visiting there."
It wouldn't be the first small-town-to-huge-metropolis leap for a cowboy, but just think of the publicity tiny Alamo would receive with one of its own at the Wrangler NFR.
Until then, Wade can keep riding bulls and perhaps working on his shtick to promote Alamo, at least how the visitor's bureau would like to hear it.
It might come in handy.