You reckon rodeoin' is beer, bruises, and ''buckle bunnies'' (the name for groupies). Well, you're right. But like the steer wrestlers Ty Phillips tailed during the 2004 season loud and proud fellas with nicknames like Fatty and Donkey he knows how to tell a good story. One 11-page scene of tokin', pokin' debauchery aside, the lasting images are the quiet ones. ''Every minute or so, the distant headlights of a freeway car threw light on the lonesome silhouette of a cowboy walking his horse at night,'' Phillips writes. He captures the solitude and camaraderie in Blacktop Cowboys, which runs deeper than an unattended cooler of Coors Light: Competitors even share scouting reports on steers.