Mountain biking has become one of those things that made me look forward to summer to arrive. Going to the mountain to race against other bikers with my bike was the most exciting time of the year for me.
Apart from racing with and against other bikers, you get to meet new people, just like how I met Channel.
It was in one of the after racing parties we usually had at the beach last summer that I first saw her dancing all alone by the fire. The fire set her form ablaze, and her shadow slithers through the beach sand like a coral snake; golden.
I had come 8th in the race, and it was my first race, so I didn’t expect much attention at the party. But here, there was no discrimination. Only exuberant young kids trying to have as much as they could.
Channel must have noticed me from the race because when I walked up to her, she stopped dancing, took a step towards me and said;
“You are the guy from the race –” She was smiling fondly at me. “Nice race. You are first?”
Was it that obvious? I thought to myself. I did not even come last.
“Yes,” I said finally.
“It wasn’t a bad first.” She stretched her hand. “My name is Channel.”
I took the hand. It was warm and soft. She reminded me of petals, or more like a lily from the river that passes through the back of our home. If not all that, she reminded me mostly of Shakespeare’s poem we read while in the third grade.
“I’m Jake,” I said when I could find my voice.
“Dance with me Jake,” she offered, and it was the beginning of a new thing. I did not only dance with her, but I also danced with the naked fire burning inside me. I danced with the shadows dancing in no form. It was the best dance I ever had, and still, it could not be called a dance.
We had never been apart since then. Sometimes I still moved to that music we danced to that day whenever it plays in my head.
Channel was a gracious being, and she is one of the reasons I was looking forward to the summer. To be with her, dance with her once more, and race through the mountain was knowing she would be screaming for me, urging me to go on.
So the school closed eventually for the summer, and the mountain biking competitions replaced our time in the classroom.
My racing experience had started to build up. I had been using my evenings to practice that is if I am not spending it with Channels. I had started to get better and build my courage.
The racing competitions started with the pro. It was such a swell time watching the pros do their thing. Racing and jumping doing freestyle competitions and partying in the evening.
“I see you are growing to become one of this guys,” Channel told me in one of the parties of the summer, pointing to the big guys rocking different ladies.
“Do you mean going pro with my biking or doing what they are doing now?”
“Well… I see you doing both,” she mused.
“You know I will never be like those guys. I won’t do something that will hurt.”
“I really want to believe when you say that. I know you mean it now, and you are saying it from your heart, but things will change the moment you become popular. Women will flock around you like swans.”
“Shiiiii…” I shushed her with a finger placed on her lips. “I would rather not go pro than lose you,” I said as we kissed passionately.
The next day was my race, and I must say as much as I was feeling anew, I couldn’t get the previous night out of my head.
We were 15 in number racing in the competition today. I looked around for Channel in the crowd and found her at the left side of the track. Our eyes met, and she blew me a kiss. Then the gun went off, and we started the race.
I started quite well and was going at speed I had never done before, feeling very confident I was giving the others a run for their money.
At the third heat, I had placed 1st in the race with a good distance from the second.
I’m winning this one for you Channel, I thought to myself.
Maybe I shouldn’t have thought of Channel, but rather focused on the task at hand, because the moment she crossed my mind, the memory of the previous night came flooding my head.
How we had kissed on at the party. Went to straight to my room when we got home. Kissed on my bed and started taking off our clothes. How she said, it was alright to go to the next stage. And how we had did the whole thing.
This I was thinking of when I suddenly saw the steep right before me, I hadn’t seen it quickly. I wasn’t going at a speed that will make me go down the steep easily, so I went for a jump, landed badly and crashed.
Just immediately the biker behind me went by, then the second, and the third. Before I could grab my bike and start it once more, the fourth and the fifth went by.
“Shit,” I swore under my breath. I had thrown away my chance of winning the competition for the first time. I had only myself to blame for this.
I started the bike and went after them at 6th place. I was only able to catch up with the 5th biker because we were almost at the last heat when I fell. So I finished 5th in the race.
I was disappointed in my final position, but I learned a valuable lesson which was to always focus on whatever I was doing if I wanted success.