The summer sun was fierce, burning down from the top of the Texas red mountains into the marrow of every being beneath it. No one could ignore the effect of the heat on them. It affected even the way we walk, the way we rode our dirt bikes, the way we even talk, each person with his or her peculiar way of reacting to the heat. For some, it slowed them down, while it made some hyperactive. You can classify me in the hyperactive class.
Staying indoors or laying down my bare chest on some park field or beach sand like some will not do for me. The heat gives me this adrenaline which I would need to burn at all times.
I picked up my bike on a bright sunny heat day and decided to go for a ride on the mountains. I met some other three guys, Brooke, Dave, and Caleb, at the mountain base. They were also heated haters like me. We decided to do a little competition among ourselves.
None of us could say who the best among the rest was. We had never ridden together before. Maybe that was what prompted the little competition or just for the fact that we loved to race. We set the time ourselves and started the race at the end of the countdown.
I was never a good starter when it came to riding; it was a weakness of myself that I had known a long time ago. So I had gotten to know where I could catch the seconds I usually lost at the beginning of any race. Always at the interchange between the first mountain and the next slope, I do take a jump none other had tried before. It was dangerous, but it had won me many competitions in the past. So the strategy was always to keep close to the best in the race and overtake him or her whenever the opportunity arises.
Caleb was at the front from the beginning of the race; he started well, the type of rider who had what I didn’t. I was anticipating that too. My starting, though never strong, it cannot be as bad as not recovering quickly to put a small gap between me and whoever was before me.
I gained quickly on the other guys and put them behind me just as quickly as they picked up with the race, keeping close to Caleb who was a few meters ahead of me.
The heat was burning down with so much intensity, even the breeze we gathered as we sped on could not dry off the perspiration oozing out of my body. I was sure it would be the same as the other guys. Maybe that had slowed them down because at some point I could not see Brooke and Dave behind me again. This was the reason one cannot do much of anything during the heat period. People got tired easily and dehydrated even before they even start anything.
For someone like myself and Caleb for certain, I liked the cool dryness of sweat as the wind we gathered with speed tries to dry it. It made us want to speed on and on till we cannot find the wind anymore in our wake. Putting this into consideration and accepting Caleb as who he was, I said to myself that it was going to be a tough competition.
I kept on increasing my speed so that I could keep up with Caleb for the moment I was waiting for. And as much as I did, I found out that the distance between myself and Caleb did not decrease, but seemed to be only increasing. He was going at a menacing speed, and I was in pursuit.
At some point I realized I was going at speed I had never tried before. Making the jump at the slope would be very difficult if I reached the peak at the speed I was going. Making the jump was not the difficult part of it, but controlling my landing would be as difficult as making a sheep pass through the hole of a needle.
I decided that it would be better to go slow down and get to the peak at speed I know so that I could make a successful jump. Although it was crazy, I had done it many times. Another mountain biker usually slowed down here and descended the slope with screams. So, Caleb, I was sure, would slow down at the slope, and that would be when to catch up and probably overtake him.
The more I slowed down, the more I felt the fierceness of the sun above and its end product, but I had to. Slowing down at the time was the key to me having a shot at winning the race.
I could see the base of the first mountain which introduced the slope before I was Caleb going at almost at the same speed since earlier. ‘He will surely slow down,’ I said in my mind.
I readied my mind for the jump and stunning Caleb as overtake him with the jump. To my surprise, Caleb approached the slope with speed he was going before and made the same jump I was thinking of doing without slowing down a bit. I was stunned.
I was so stunned I could not bring myself up for the grip to make my usual jump. I could not believe what I just saw with my eyes. My jump was useless, and there was no catching up with Caleb now, but I would have made the jump still if only to satisfy myself. But I was stunned I couldn’t. I descended the slope and trailed Caleb for the rest of the game.
After the slope, I increased my speed to keep the distance between myself and him at minimal.
“That jump you made at the slope was the craziest I have ever seen here,” I told him after the race.
He told me the secret was to take any jump without thinking much of it.