Cycling Stories

The Race

April 10, 2020

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The Race

I could really use a new bike helmet. My old one was scratched and chipped, and the blue paint left behind a sticky yellow residue.  

I didn’t have time to worry about it right now, though. I had too much on my mind.  

I pulled my hair back, put on my bike helmet, and adjusted my lucky bracelet — the most important part. Several charms were linked to the chains, which featured a pug, an apple, a pencil, and my favorite thing in the whole world: bikes. It was the one thing that thrilled me more than anything and gave me the most joy — not to mention it boosted my popularity.  

I mean, how many boys can say that they beat the Mia Davis in a race, the best biker in the whole of second grade? Not many. And it’ll be zero after this upcoming race.  

My past races had never been so ambitious. The first, Grandberry Park, had been against Greg Hassleburg. The race of the Squeaky Swing was also a challenge. Not only did I ride two laps around the broken swing instead of one, but I also raced against my two-timing ex-boyfriend, Danny Rice, who had decided to start eating his lunch with Jessica Green instead of me. Naturally, I had to break it off.  

In the end, I completed a gratuitous third lap before Danny could even finish his second. Take that, you juice-box drinking jerk.  

This time, though, it was gonna be different. Everyone who lived in Sylvan Circle knew that Suicide Hill had its name for a reason. It was not something to be messed with, and even the eighth graders bowed down to its glory, whose gravel was littered with bits of collarbone from failed past attempts. Dents and potholes formed from the constant smashing into the gravel. Blood, chipped teeth, and tiny screws mark the way up the hill, like a carpet for a mighty king.  

It was spectacular. And horrifying. This was to be the most amazing and death-defying feat ever seen or attempted–not only in the history of Sylvan Circle, but in the history of Utah, and the whole world!  

I was racing against the biggest eighth-grader on our block, Bruce Chatworth. He had a bike with silver outlines on the wheels and flames streaking down its side. He also had a helmet that didn’t have paint chips flaking off left and right. But that didn’t matter. I was gonna kick his trash anyway.  

I hopped on my bike and waited for Sara to make the call. She was at the bottom of the hill, holding two red-and-white pom poms. Her right-hand goes up. Then, her left. Wait. They both come down. “GO!” she yells, but her voice was just an echo in my head.  

He’s already down the hill. What am I doing?! I put my feet on my pedal and pushed with my back leg onto what felt like a sheer drop. My hair flew from behind me, teasing my neck. Adrenaline pulsed from my toes, into my hands and arms, and then into my chest and face.  

It was barely 65 degrees, but I felt hot. Energy surged and pulsed through every vein in my body. All of my organs stopped working, except for the ones that controlled my breathing and my love of biking. I couldn’t see anything except the hill, which slowly declined and became smaller and smaller with every second. Until it didn’t.  

It was flat.  

My hearing cut back in, and all I could overhear were mixed screams of, “Mia won!” and “Bruce won!” I hopped off my bike. I was breathing hard, my sight scattered. Bruce was flexing his muscles, showing off like the biker he thought he was.  

Sara was already at my side, waving her pom-poms in my face. “You won! You won!” I couldn’t believe it. I won! Bruce, appalled by what Sara was saying, offered a rebuttal that no one asked for. “What are you talking about? I won!”  

Sara flicked her dark curly hair across her caramel shoulders. “You must be blind. Mia obviously won.” I stood in silence. I didn’t care who won. Not right then. I was just glad I was still in one piece.  

Sara and Bruce continued bickering, shouting and pointing in the other’s face, until a little first-grader, who had walked up through the crowd, caught wind of what was happening and stepped between the two.  

“Break it upsh you guysh,” he said with a lisp. He had fire orange hair and a retainer on his top row of teeth. “Itsh difficult to tell whosh the winner, but Shia hash the video. Itsh gonna be a tough one, for sure.”  

The whole crowd, and even Bruce, went silent. Bruce turned to me, finally acknowledging my existence. “You ready to lose, pipsqueak?” I turned to Sara and smiled. “Game on.”

Charlotte Hight lives in Salt Lake City, Utah, and has written non-professionally for the past six years. Writing and standup comedy are what lights her fire, and her dream is to one day explore and travel the world.
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