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Lineman apprentice gets eggcellent result at rodeo
By Gary Chavez on September 3, 2014
Take one egg, one 45 foot pole, two heavy boots, two belts, and one grown man. Mix ’em all together on a hot July day and you get the Egg Climb.
One of the most popular events of the annual Texas Linemen’s Rodeo Association, the Egg Climb requires each participant to carry an egg inside a bag with his teeth while he climbs up the pole. At the top of the pole, he removes the egg from the bag, drops the bag then climbs down with the egg held gently in his mouth. The apprentice with an unbroken egg and the fastest time gets bragging rights for a year, along with a nice big trophy.
This year, that apprentice was CPS Energy’s own Chris Lyon.
In just 23.27 seconds, Lyon made it up the 45 foot pole and back down with his egg intact. He said it wasn’t even his fastest time.
“It was my last event of the day and I was tired and worn out,” said Lyon, who’s worked for CPS Energy for 14 years. “I’ve actually done it a little faster.”
Linemen can remain apprentices for years. It takes 10-15 years to become a journeyman lineman, said Fred James, senior vice-president of energy delivery services, before last year’s rodeo.
“We grow our own here,” said James. “We don’t hire journeymen from outside.”
Lyon hopes to knock two seconds off that time at the International Linemen Rodeo, to be held in Bonner Springs, Kansas, this October.
It takes a lot of practice to be the best in the state, and CPS Energy’s linemen rodeo team practice on their own time for a chance to show off their skills among linemen from around the state and country.
The rodeo offers power utilities a chance not only to compete against each other but also to observe each other’s best practices, watch different safety processes and get a feel for how other utilities handle their business.
It’s a chance for CPS Energy to shine, share knowledge and gain some as well.
Each year members of the TPPA rodeo meet in Seguin, where journeymen and apprentice linemen compete in a series of events that test the skills they use everyday. This year’s rodeo saw more than 80 apprentices show off their climbing skills and speed.
The judging is tough and the competition fierce, but for Lyon, a father of three, “the best part of the win was having my family there.”