LOS ANGELES – Jet and Cord McCoy, a pair of bull-riding brothers from Tupelo, Okla., are among the 11 teams competing on the upcoming 16th edition of CBS's "The Amazing Race." Other teams competing this season include a grandmother and granddaughter, a father and daughter, married high-school sweethearts, and a couple of attorney moms.
Jet, 30, and Cord, 29, who have both competed on the International Professional Rodeo Association circuit, said they were not daunted by their competition for the $1 million grand prize on the reality show premiering Feb. 14 (8 p.m. EST).
"We ride bucking bulls and horses," said Jet. "If we're gonna be intimidated, it's not by another team."
"I can ride a horse as fast as they can go," said Cord.
The biggest hurdle facing Louis Stravato, 47, and Michael Naylor, 45, at the beginning of the race was their backpacks. After seeing the behemoth bags carried by the Harlem Globtrotters last season, the longtime buddies and narcotics detectives from Providence, R.I., chose not to pack lightly. They ended up ditching clothes along the way.
"We are the two biggest idiots," said Stravato. "Before the race, we kept telling ourselves that the cameramen were going to have to check their stuff, so we would be able to check our giant 90-liter bags while we were racing around the world. When we got to the starting line and saw all these small bags on everybody else, we knew we were in big trouble."
A few of this season's contestants have previously been in the spotlight, including former "Big Brother" houseguests Jordan Lloyd, 22, and Jeff Schroeder, 31, as well as former Miss Teen South Carolina Caitlin Upton, 20, who is racing with her boyfriend, Brent Horne, 28. Upton said she wanted to redeem herself on the race after her infamous 2007 pageant flub involving a confused and mangled response to a geography question.
"People always picture me as the typical pageant girl, and I'm not at all," said Upton. "I've only been in five pageants. I'm actually a very athletic person. I'm just tired of being represented from that standpoint. I want to show people who I really am as a person, that I am capable of accomplishing anything and doing anything I put my mind to."
Lloyd and Schroeder, who began dating after Lloyd won the 11th season of "Big Brother" last summer, said fans of the claustrophobic reality show might be surprised to see how much the duo bickered on the 16th season of "The Amazing Race," which was filmed last November and December and spanned nearly 40,000 miles across five continents and eight countries.
"I wasn't prepared for how much we had to work together," admitted Schroeder.
"He wanted to ring my neck," added Lloyd, "and other times I wanted to kill him."
"Jordan, I was trying to say it in a nice way," said Schroeder.
For the first time, when the teams departed "The Amazing Race" starting line, they had to rely solely on public transportation — no rental cars, no taxis — to make their way from downtown Los Angeles to the airport, a world-class challenge in itself. Executive producer Bertram van Munster said the racers then headed to Valparaiso, Chile. Other stops included France and the Seychelles
"We have never been to that place before," van Munster said of the lush island destination off the east coast of Africa. "We were looking into going to Africa, but I couldn't find any countries that would fit into the entire scheme of the race, and I wanted to go to an original place. It's very beautiful. It's very remote. It takes forever to get there."