I’ve never been in an outpatient lounge before. I’m feeling way better now but my shoulder is still kinda sore. It was such a blur when it happened. The room is all couches and books and toys in a box for the kids. There’s big windows and a door to the hospital parking lot and a person behind the desk monitoring me until Dad arrives.
I was at Cultus Lake for the race like first thing in the morning, like all the mornings I trained. At that point it was just volunteers and the concession setting up. They were already selling coffee to the volunteers in the reflective orange vests. I sat in front of a big log on the beach and listened to music and tried to just stay calm. I had made some money with work, fixing bikes and my girlfriend Amber and me trying to get sponsorships for today but I wanted the prize money to save our house. It was kinda crazy because even if I won I sort of knew it wouldn’t be enough. We would need just thousands and I certainly wouldn’t have that. I guess I tried to not think of that as I dug my bare feet into the beach sand and watched as more people started arriving and the sun came up over the long lake I would be cycling with one of the big red water-bikes that bobbed over by the lifeguards tower. Amber found me where I was sitting and soon she was next to me with her bare feet in the sand.
Once the registration tent was open Amber and I went over and got our numbers. We were so early so we immediately got entered in the two first short trial races with the newer water-bikes (the smaller ones..not the big red ones). With those races you didn’t have to win, just place higher than forth. My sister Melody and Dad weren’t there yet but I was still so nervous once I climbed up onto the wet saddle in my swimsuit and the volunteer helped me over to the starting line.
Each cyclist had a volunteer behind them holding the bikes so we couldn’t float forward. Music started playing loudly on the shore and I saw it was the local rock station The Drive was set up with a dj who was saying something I couldn’t here and then Every Little Thing She Does is Magic by the Police came on. The lifeguard in the tower had the starters pistol and was talking to someone below between the two big grey aluminum stands. The stands were starting to fill. He raised the gun and I turned to face the finish line between the two bouys. The shot rang out.
I stood on the pedals and spun them as fast as I could. The bike was different than the big red ones I was use to but soon we were all slicing through the water. I got low to reduce drag. My breathing became louder and I could feel my heart thumping. Over my socks I could feel the spray from the lake. Shouts I came from the stands. I grilled the black rubber handles. I closed my eyes and just pedaled fast as I could.
And it was over. The lifeguard blew his whistle. I had made second place in that one! The guy who was first was really athletic and he was really friendly to me. His name is Cam and he works in town at an auto shop but he likes to stay in shape too. He talked to me for a bit about cycling and my bike mechanics since he’s also a mechanic. I had a while before the next race so I went and got a pop and watched Amber do her qualifying race. The race was delayed and I felt bad for Amber because I know how nervous I was and everything. I sat at the highest seat in the stands and waited. Finally the starters pistol fired and she was off.
A whole bunch of people around me started shouting and I did too. She won that one! A volunteer in a white shirt and sunglasses announced her name and then the radio dj did too. I was so proud and after she talked to some people and came up the stands where I was I gave her a kiss. We still had hours before the next small race and like four hours before the main event so she insisted I eat something. We got chicken wraps and fries and sat under the sun (she brought sunblock…Amber thinks of everything!)
We both did good on the next two races which we raced together which cut the number of main racers down to fifteen to cross the lake in the big red water-bikes. The wait for that felt like forever as the people in motor boats put out really long versions of those floaty lines you see in swimming pools and then got into 6 positions alongside what was the race track. The time was getting closer and we went down to the waters edge with the other thirteen people. Dad and Melody were there in the other stand and we waved at them. Adam, the guy who inspired me to be a mechanic was there too! He was working as a volunteer and I was so shy I could barely say anything. He recognized me though and smiled.
“You’re Max, right?” He asked and I was over the moon. I said yes and he recognized me from Brian’s bike shop. I don’t know how that is but it was amazing to talk to him.
Next thing I knew we were on the red bikes and being moved into position. Amber smiled at me from down the line. I smiled back and tried to calm myself as things got really quiet.
The starters pistol rang out and we we off. You couldn’t stand like with the others as you pedal these from a sitting back position. The big front wheel spun like crazy as I pedaled faster and faster. Cam was almost neck and neck with me for most of it. I didn’t look around much as I was trying to focus on the opposite beach where the finish line was. The crowd noise fell away as we crossed the lake past the second set of motor boats. We were all getting tired as the wear of pedaling those big bikes across such a big lake under the sun. Beside me was another racer who was closing in. I didn’t have anyone on my other side so I gave us a little room. The third motorboat was approaching and then the finish line.
Suddenly I heard a noise from the guy beside me. Something had happened with his bike and he was in the water. I think the seat was fawlty. I just saw him struggling to hold onto the water bike. He was trying to hold on to anything. He couldn’t swim. I can. I jumped off my bike. I heard a whistle from the near motorboat as I went under.
I found him after getting past his bike. I got him to the surface and got him to his bike so we could both hang on. I turned to find the motorboat only to be crashed into by a bike. It came outta nowhere. That’s when it went black.
When I woke up Amber was there as was Melody and Cam. I didn’t expect any of that but I certainly didn’t expect that they would be going out. They met before the race started. After her ex Taylor being so mean I really liked this. Amber asked how I was. I said how my shoulder hurt.
That’s when it got really crazy. It was like a moment from a game show because when I looked past them I saw not only Dad beaming with a huge smile and tears but I saw…Adam!
Adam told me how people were so moved or something by my story that the radio station had pulled together all the money to pay off the house! Not only that but I was now going to apprentice as a mechanic with Adam himself, so I’d work in his shop weekdays and I would probably have to give up the burger place. I told Trent about this later and his was like “Wow man, that is awesome!”
I can’t wait to get home and start practicing my mechanics again. I might go out with Amber later. I don’t know if I’ll get as much of a chance to write in here as I really wanna be the best mechanic for Adam. As i write this I’m excited to get home. I can help Dad unpack. Thank you for reading along! I’ve really enjoyed sharing this with all of you! Who knows I might write some more later too!
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