Larry sped past me as we were about to enter the woods. He would always want to show how fast he could go even when we were not in a real race. We just finished a mountain bike race competition, and we had chosen the woods at Creole park as the venue for our party.
But before the party, we do have this tradition which we carry out in the woods that involves other teams, and they’re being invited to the party.
When Larry finally slowdown, he asked, “Hey Tony, do you think they will show up this year?”
“Of course they will, any team that gets the invitation usually show up, it’s tradition, bro.”
“Yea, sure, I know.”
“Remember when the East Siders sent us an invite last summer, did we not honor their invitation?”
“We did…,” he replied.
“That’s the way it is a man.”
I started up once more for the rendezvous point, and Larry started once more after me. Our invitees might be there already, so we needed to move quicker than we were going while chatting.
And like I had predicted, they were at the rendezvous point waiting for us. It was going to be five of us, Andrew, Brook, Alex, Clay and myself racing against five of theirs. The rest of the park would be on the other side of the wood where we were going to be ending the race and having the party.
They did not need to win the race to party with us, but at least three out of their five must be in the first six to finish to make them worthy of partying with us. If they didn’t, they would forfeit their invitation to some other group.
Most times when we enjoy the company of a group we intended to give them a hand at doing well in the race and securing the next invitation.
We exchanged greetings with the guys.
Blake was one person I had found quite interesting amidst others. After the race through the woods in our previous meeting, we ended up talking about things and life at the party. I got to find out that we shared a lot of common views about those things we talked about.
“Hey, Tony?” Blake greeted as I got close enough to ear him.
“Hey, Blake? Did you ever find the balance you were in search of?” I asked even though there was no time for chit-chat yet. The race must start any moment now for us to make it to the party ground to get everything started. But I always loved to make little conversation to ease up and get us ready for after the race when we would have the time to talk more.
“I did not only find balance Tony, but I also found out there is none in this world. I found out that we would need to strive to find our way through the maze of this life,” Blake replied philosophically.
This was not the first time he would sound philosophical to me, and it made me wonder where he got his philosophies about life from. What had shaped his life to make him quite experienced and wise? And he was a brilliant mountain biker as well.
“Well, I hope life lends you a compass through the maze of your life then.”
“I hope so too,” he replied as we all got ready to start our race through the woods.
It was not meant to be an overly serious race, but no biker goes through the wood without going at speed enough for a real race. And as long as there was something as tiny as pride at stake, it becomes a serious race automatically. So everybody was expecting a good race from the other person.
The route was not difficult to follow. Both teams had run here before. If not twice, at least once. But it was enough for us to find our path.
The race started and Larry, like always, was leading at the front. I was certain no one would be catching up with him. Sometimes I think he flies, and not ride, because in a short time you won’t see him again. I think his only undoing was jumping; he had never been an excellent jumper.
This time Blake followed closely while the rest of us was about a mile away.
I slowed down when I saw behind the woods that the two had stopped. I hadn’t seen the water that made them stop at the time.
When I got close enough, I saw the water too. It was right in our path. We hadn’t anticipated the water to be that full at the time. If we had known, we would go through the route at the edge of the cliff.
“This place is always dry. How did this water get here this time?” I asked no one in particular because no one amidst us had the answer to that.
“Do you think we can cross it?” Blake asked.
“It can’t be that deep. We usually speed through it when it was dry,” another guy in our team, Brad, answered.
The rest of the guys in the race had joined us by them, and we all stand to stare at the unfortunate obstacle in our path.
“I don’t think it is smart to cross this water. We are not sure how deep it is.” A guy from the other team, whose name I couldn’t remember, said.
“It can’t be deep,” Brad insisted.
We all decided to give it a try. So I suggested we tie a rope around the person that would be going first and pass it down to the last person, putting it around us all. Unless we were carrying our bikes on our head, that seemed not to be an option.
Blake decided to give it a go. We watched as he made the cross, and we followed suit. I realized the river was about a foot deep. We got our shoes soaked with water, but we all made it through. Then we continued our race after the crossing.
Blake finished first this time, followed by Larry and myself in third place. Two more of the opponents made the sixth, and the party was declared open.