Submitted photos
Travis Wimberley, of Los Lunas, competes on the PBR Velocity Tour.

Los Lunas

Bull rider Travis Wimberley, of Los Lunas, has big dreams and he’s in a hurry to fulfill them.

“We’re going to bring a world title home pretty soon — within a year or two,” Wimberley said.

Heavy stuff from the 19-year-old, who has been a professional bull rider for just one year.

Since he turned 18 and was able to go pro, Wimberley has been honing his craft on the different levels of PBR, Professional Bull Riding.  That includes the new PBR Team Series and the Velocity Tour.

The goal is to do well enough in those events to break through into Unleash the Beast (UTB,) which features the top riders in the world. The recently-completed Ty Murray Invitational in Albuquerque was a UTB showcase.

This love for riding started at the age of 6, when his father, Nathan, took him to Tingley Coliseum in Albuquerque to take part in a mutton-busting contest.

“I got on my first sheep, got on him backwards,” Wimberley explained. “I wrapped my legs around his neck, my arms around his belly. I was the only one to stay on that night so I won a buckle.”

Wimberely was hooked after that.

“There was no better feeling — no looking back.”

Of course, bull riding is not an easy profession. There’s the travel. The expense. The physical toll.

“You always think for the most positive route and the most positive outcome,” is Wimberley’s approach. “That’s most likely going to happen, especially with a lot of hard work and dedication, and doing it for 13 years, you figure out the ins and outs.”

Wimberley dreams of being a world champion

Wimberley, who was home-schooled, has been successful riding about 20 percent of the bulls he has drawn this year, according to PBR statistics. Decent, but more work needs to be done.

“I’ve been doing good,” he said. “I’ve been staying on a few here and there but I need to stay on every single thing to actually win some good money.”

Wimberley’s best finish so far was sixth place in February at a Velocity event in Palm Springs, Calif.

When not in the arena, Wimberley builds pipe fences and metal buildings across New Mexico “because traveling is so dang expensive now days.”

Wimberley is focusing on riding and not trying to lasso sponsors to help with the cost.

“I’d rather do it myself because I guess I’m hard headed. I’m not one to go out and ask for money,” he said. “It would be awesome to get some help going down the road.”

The love affair with rodeo is as strong as the day he won that first buckle.

“Shoot. What could you not love about the sport? From winning money to staying on for 8 seconds and hearing that crowd go crazy,” Wimberley said. “There just ain’t no better feeling. To get on the back of the bull, you’re so pumped up. You have all this adrenaline going through you. You just feel ten foot high.”

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Mike Powers spent more than 40 years as a television news and sports anchor, mostly in the Albuquerque market. He has won numerous awards including New Mexico Sportscaster of the Year. He covers a wide range of sports, including the Valencia County prep scene.