Chariots roll into the Cloverdale Rodeo
He’s watched the madness of chariot racing all his life with a mixture of admiration and awe.
Craig Wilder has looked on in amazement at groups of men dressed in gladiator outfits being pulled around by horses thundering around a rodeo track. The only thing keeping the men in the small buckets is their own balance – there’s nothing to hold onto but reins.
Wilder, a 49-year-old native of Whatcom County, Washington decided two years ago to buy a chariot rig from a friend and give the sport a try.
There was no turning back.
The U.S border guard of four years calls the activity “a high-speed adrenaline rush” and a refreshing departure from his day job guarding the 49th parallel.
“I use it as my stress relief,” Wilder said in an interview with The Leader.
Wilder and a team of four other Washington residents called the Pacific Northwest Ponies are heading here for the Cloverdale Rodeo and Country Fair May 18-21.
For his first year in Cloverdale Wilder is trying out a new costume: full gladiator gear, right down to the sandals.
How he’ll stay in the chariot wearing only sandals, he’s not sure.
“I’ll just have to see how that works out,” he says.
As to how a chariot rider wins the two-lap event, Wilder says a lot of it is luck of the draw.
“There really is no trick,” Wilder says. “Just get a good start at the starting line.”
Chariot racing takes place on Friday (May18), with smaller shows throughout the weekend.
Friday will feature a free drive, Wilder says, where they just let the horses run. It’s the fastest race and someone is sure to take a spill, he assures.
“It’s a fun time. If you’re looking for the most bang for your buck, it’s Friday.”
That said, the chariots will be busting loose periodically through the weekend at the rodeo pit.
There will also be five rodeo performances in three days, from May 19-21.
For more information, visit http://www.cloverdalerodeo.com/rodeo/event-and-ticket-info/