Winning the race doesn’t equal winning at life.
After receiving a classic racing bike for his birthday, Barry Sloane discovers that he has the makings of a top-notch bike racer. If things work out right, he could even go to the Olympics some day.
Of course, there are other attractions: the young women racers, and particularly Daphne Turner, who can kick Barry’s rear on a bike any day of the week.
Another discovery, though, puts him at odds with his best friend, and soon Barry has to choose between pursuing his Olympic dream and being the kind of friend he always imagined himself to be.
I opened the garage door and wheeled the bike out. In the sunlight, the red paint almost seemed to glow. I strapped on the helmet, and with a wave to Mom, who stood in the garage watching me and sipping yet another cup of coffee, I rolled out into the street.
The bike, this Eddie Mercx—whoever he was—felt like it wanted to fly away with me. I went around the block, experimenting with changing the gears. It probably would’ve helped if I’d known what I was doing. Finally, I selected a comfortable gear and headed away from my neighborhood.
Our house was only a mile or so from the Coast Highway, a flat coastal route that paralleled the beach through most of San Diego. I figured it must be a great place to ride because there were always tons of cyclists on it.
I cruised along, enjoying the fresh air and the unfamiliar feel of the breeze tickling my ears. Every once in a while, some hot-shot in fancy bike clothes and wrap-around sunglasses would zip past, sometimes saying, “On your left,” as they approached from the rear. It didn’t take me long to figure out that that must be some kind of signal to let me know they were coming.
After about the three millionth rider passed me, I decided to see just how fast I could go. The bike had a computer thingy on it, and even though I hadn’t figured out how to work all the buttons, it was pretty obvious that the 11 and 12 that kept displaying must be the speed.
Just past the next light, the road went downhill a little, then flattened out into a long stretch. Seemed like a good place to try for a speed record. I started pedaling as fast as I could. It wasn’t long before I was moving too fast for my legs to keep up. Even though I’d practiced shifting a bit, I didn’t have a clue what the right gear would be, so I just coasted until I hit the flat. Harder and harder I pedaled, and I watched with satisfaction as the speedometer rose to 15, 16, 17, 18. I tried to suck in enough air, and the blood pounding in my ears matched my pounding heart. Finally I had to ease up. Not only could I barely breathe, but the light I was approaching turned yellow, then red. I braked, honestly glad that the traffic light gave me an excuse to stop.