This is a reanimation of the Vicaribus blog as lived by Miro Kazakoff and Ehren Foss in 2004 and 2005.
The photos may be spotty.
Posted by Miro
Everyone looks good in cowboy hats. Iím not sure why they get made so much fun of on the East Coast, but itís time to change that, because the Calgary Stampede proves that itís a fashion ďYesĒ for people of all ages.
Except for those ridiculous foam and/or fur cowboy hats. Those look silly, especially on people who think itís cool to wear bikiniís indoors.
Day one of the Stampede was as awesome as advertised. Iím sure Ehren will hit the highlights of the rodeo itself, but I just wanted to pass on my thanks to the man that realized what a good idea it would be to release 20 wild heifers into a stadium and force men to rope and milk them into baby bottles in a timed contest.
Unfortunately Ehren was off working later, but Sean, Rana and I got to see our first competitive joust. Unlike those Medieval Times jousts, this one is totally unscripted and an actual athletic contest; a pretty brutal one at that. We saw the final day of the tournament. Injuries had sidelined all but 6 of the 11 original participants by then. Apparently this is an average number for a joust. During our competition, one jouster forfeited because an injury the previous day left him unable to hold up his lance, and one horse was pulled from competition due to exhaustion.
The way it works is that the two jousters, wearing over 100 pounds of armor, charge at each other four times in a match-up. They must hit each other on specific piece of armor fastened to their inside shoulder. Each jouster gets 3 points for breaking off part of the two foot balsa tip on their 12 foot lances. They get 5 points for breaking the lance below the balsa tip, where it is made of harder wood. If they unhorse the other man they get 8 points and a good chance of winning because falling off a horse is a pretty serious thing to recover from.
Penalties include hitting below the belt or hitting the horse. They run in the neighborhood of -10 points. Also of note, the jouster must not be holding the reins at the point of impact. This helps insure the horse is traveling forward of its own free will and that if the rider does go down, he or she is less likely to take to the horse down as well. If the horse shows sings of slowing before impact or being unwilling to participate, the judges will pull the horse.
The shattering of the lances makes for a pretty spectacular event, and we did see one man get knocked off his horse. It was close though, he held on to that horse with his legs until he was almost 45 degrees off balance. I was impressed with everyone who had survived to make it to the final day, and no doubt the others were equally talented if a little less lucky.
This morning I went on a very long bike ride. Ehren and Sean also went on one, but I had no desire to wake up with them nor to keep their pace. Calgary has an excellent set of trails right through downtown and surrounding the river that bisects the city. Apparently thereís over 130 miles of paved or packed dirt trails.
Outside of downtown however, itís pretty much a free-for-all of dead ends, narrow shoulders and no sidewalks. I took a rather extended tour of industrial Calgary (which is most of Calgary), but finally made it back to the RV park before the thunder, lightening and downpour hit late this afternoon.
Tomorrow, I plan to head back to the Stampede and do some shopping. Iíve pretty much begged off every major gift-giving occasion to my family since this trip began, and tomorrow theyíll all get it made up to them with t-shirts. Arenít I the generous one? Given that I saw cowboy hats for $15 dollars, expect me to break down and buy myself one.