BILLINGS — Cody Nance likes to throw in a few extra items when packing for his weekend job.
Along with shirts, jeans, boots and toiletries, Nance will toss in a few bandanas into his travel bag.
Each bandana has a hand-written Bible verse attached, done by the Tennessee bull rider.
“I’ve been doing it for quite a while now,” said Nance. “I like to sign and share something.”
Nance, of Paris, Tennessee, hopes to be throwing more than a few of those coveted bandanas, “Seems like the blue ones are a hot commodity,” he said, during this weekend’s Professional Bull Riders event at Rimrock Auto Arena at MetraPark Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
The Stanley Performance in Action Invitational will feature 60 bull riders in a new format unveiled earlier this week. There is also a 15/15 Bucking Battle scheduled for Saturday night, putting the top 15 ranked riders against the 15 top-ranked bulls.
One of those will be Nance, who is currently second in the PBR standings. A two-event winner — Anaheim, California and Albuquerque, New Mexico — he trails leader Ramon de Lima by just 144.17 points.
Nance won the Billings event in 2014.
“It’s been pretty good,” said the 30-year-old Nance of his 2018. “I’ve had a lot of good bulls and been able to ride a lot of them. I’ve been really blessed.”
Nance also won the 15/15 Bucking Battle at Tacoma, Washington, last week.
“I’m just trying to stay consistent and keep riding my bulls,” said Nance.
Nance says the number of bandanas he brings depends on the event.
“Usually four or five,” he explained. “You look at how many bulls you might ride. Last weekend, I ran out (of bandanas). I put in a few extra for this weekend.”
Nance has already earned more than $172,000 this year and $1.47 million for his career. Having reached the televised tour in 2009 when he was the PBR Rookie of the Year, Nance ranks 21st all-time for money won in the PBR.
It’s a sharp contrast from when he started his bull riding career, sometimes bypassing a meal so he could pay his entry fees and weekend bull ridings.
“When I was younger, I didn’t have the money to eat,” Nance said with a laugh.
He and four other young bull riders lived in a converted walking barn. To pay his bills, Nance installed highway guardrails.
It’s a work ethic he carries into the arena every weekend.
“I’ve always worked harder than anybody else,” said Nance. “I’d install guardrails four, five days a week, sometimes 24-hour shifts. I’d work whatever I could to make money that way. I’d put up guardrails and ride bulls, that’s all I did.
“Sometimes, things were rough.”
He’s also overcome the usual list of injuries that included breaking both wrists, a torn MCL, a broken leg, broken ribs and a lacerated lung. He credits his wife Korie and the PBR Sports Medicine Team for keeping him going.
“I have a great support system at home,” Nance said. “When you want to be successful, you surround yourself with good people.”
Nance is also riding with dysplasia, where it’s now just bone on bone with the ball joint and socket in his right hip. “It’s all worn down,” he said.
“You know what they say, ‘When the going gets tough, you’ve got to get tough.’ When I was a kid, I set a goal of being a world champion. You just have to pay your dues.”
Now a full-time bull rider, he no longer repairs and installs guardrails for extra money. “It’s kind of hard to do both being on tour,” Nance added.
But old work habits never quite go away. Particularly when he’s driving down a highway.
“I still notice places that need to be fixed,” said Nance with a chuckle.