PUEBLO, Colo. – Michael Lane stood in the shower of his hotel room in Louisville, Kentucky, on late Saturday night and let the hot water run down his back.
The 24-year-old had just returned from the KFC Yum! Center unsure if his 2015 season was officially in the books or if he was going to be able to receive a qualifying bid to the Built Ford Tough World Finals.
After going 1-for-2 and failing to gain any points toward the world standings, the No. 37 ranked bull rider didn’t know if he would be earning one of the BlueDEF qualification bids for Finals.
With every drop of hot water, Lane exhaled.
“My family had just left and they didn’t really want to talk to me because they knew how I was,” Lane recalled on Wednesday afternoon. “I rather have been off on my own. I went back to the room and I got in the shower and took me a long shower and was just letting all the hot water and all the doubt I had out.
“I got out and I got the text and it was crazy.”
Lane received confirmation that he earned the final BlueDEF Velocity Tour bid to the World Finals seeing as he finished fourth in the BlueDEF standings. BlueDEF champion Gage Gay, No. 2 Kaique Pacheco and No. 3 Neil Holmes had already qualified.
It was a huge emotional relief for Lane after believing he had cost himself a chance at his first career World Finals.
Lane had been bucked off by Joe The Grinder at 7.94 seconds in Round 1, and failed to qualify for the championship on Saturday following his 83.75-point ride on Shotgun Red, which was .5 points shy of putting him in the Top 15 of the event average.
Even though he rode his Round 2 bull, Lane felt he let a huge opportunity pass him by as he helped Gay prepare for the championship round.
“It was like a dream had just slipped through my fingertips,” Lane said. “I was literally two tenths away from everything last weekend being a whole different story. If I would have gotten that first score I would have made it to the championship round.”
The good news for Lane is that it all worked out in his favor.
He also hopes that second-round ride will be a sign of things to come.
“That ride wasn’t nothing but an 83-point ride, but that ride meant so much to me,” he said. “Only because the first night I didn’t finish strong. I rode that bull and kind of got lazy and let it go right at me there. The second night that bull had me thrown off at 3 seconds. I wouldn’t quit and then I finished strong.
“I didn’t have a successful weekend, truly. I didn’t win no money or gain any points, but I have to take a positive out of everything. I finished strong there so I have a strong point to start off with at Finals.”
Lane is now focused on making the most of his opportunity. He heads to the World Finals with only four rides in 22 attempts on the BFTS. Lane went a combined 25-for-64 (39.1 percent) on the BlueDEF Velocity Tour and Touring Pro Division.
“When I came back in December from being hurt the goal was to make the World Finals,” Lane said. “I didn’t know how I would make them, but I figured I would make them by being inside the Top 35. That was my goal. It kind of slipped away from me. It wasn’t because I was riding badly. I just had some rough luck going through there. For the opportunity I do have, it has kept my dream alive.”
He has rotated hot yoga sessions every other day with cryotherapy sessions so that his body will be ready for five consecutive days of competition.
Lane wants to crack the Top 30 of the world standings, he trails No. 30 Brady Sims by 199.17 points – one round win at World Finals pays 200 world points – so that he can start the 2016 Built Ford Tough Series with eight guaranteed events.
After dealing with the turmoil at the bottom of the standings, he wants to make sure to avoid that position next year.
“Now that I know what it is like to be in that area, I will work that much harder next year to put myself further up in the standings so I do not have to worry about nothing like this,” he said.
Until then, he is looking forward to making the most of his latest opportunity and record the first of what he hopes to be many qualified rides at the World Finals.
“The second half of the season let me get to a comfort zone to where I don’t care about nothing,” Lane said. “I know the only task at hand is riding my bulls there and I know I am due for some winning so why not do it at the World Finals.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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