I knew I was going to land hard on my back the second that my foot missed its mark on the bike as I slipped away from it. And I knew it was going to hurt.
The jump started out well enough. I had decent height and it was going smoothly, but somehow as I started to come back down I felt myself pulling away from the bike just a little bit, like the bike was moving farther away from me, and as I tried to correct it and stop its momentum with my hands, the bike seemed to rebel.
I missed my footing and then it was only a fraction of a second later that I knew I was falling behind the bike even though my hands were still gripping the handlebars tightly. I had to let go. There was no other way to minimize the injury.
I let go of the handles immediately with both hands and I narrowly missed colliding face first with the rear tire that was still spinning quickly. I narrowly missed having my nose torn off by it.
The ground came at me quickly and I fully expected to land face first. Throwing my hands up in front of my face I became only slightly aware that my body was now twisting around. It wasn’t until I landed hard on my back that I realized I had somehow turned around entirely.
I was down for a few seconds, but I quickly regained my feet and got back on the bike. I had a race to finish. And this was hardly the first time I’d fallen; it came with the territory. That was the rush of the adrenaline for you. It would have taken something insane to slow me down for even a second in the middle of an actual race.
I had to keep going; I wanted to win so badly I could wrap my lips around it. It was the only thing that had kept me moving at the age of twenty-eight to continue trying to thrive in this business that was being dominated by eighteen and twenty-year-old’s. I was old and most thought way past my prime, but I loved doing it and nothing was going to stop me.
Still, I knew that it would soon be time for me to hang up my helmet. Very soon, but not yet. And I had a great plan for how to do it.
She was watching me in the audience.
Leia had leapt at the chance to see me in action again. It was fun and flattering to have such a beautiful, wonderful woman in the audience rooting me on.
But it would have been even better if she’d ever get the chance to see me win.
Not this time, though. Not by a long shot. A few more disappointing races and it might be back to the amateur ranks for me. I could see it coming.
It was somewhat depressing, but I was dealing with it. The fact that I was soon going to be filthy rich had a way of lightening up the dark clouds that I found myself walking through.
“You did amazing!” Leia said when I came out of the showers heading towards my car.
“Were you watching the same race I was in?” I teased.
She smiled at me. “You took a nasty fall, could have happened to anyone. Speaking of which, are you ok? That looked painful.”
I shrugged. “Well, it didn’t feel good. But I’m fine. Don’t worry about it.”
We’d been going out fairly steady for the past three weeks and so far things could not have been going more smoothly between us. We were really getting into each other’s grooves and learning what made us tick and what made us work together so well. Our personalities were pretty well in sync. We laughed at the same stuff; we looked at things the same way. It was great and I was worried constantly that I was going to do something that would ruin things (I have a tendency to do that) and everything was going to get blown to hell. Then I’d be on damage control. This relationship had to work out, for a variety of reasons.
The race was on a Sunday afternoon. Afterwards we went to see a Dodgers baseball game, as we had planned. They were playing the Reds, one of my favorite teams, and I was stoked to go. Soon we were seated in the third row on the first base side, both of us stuffing our faces with delectable (and slowly toxic) junk food. It was great.
“What’s wrong?” Leia asked.
It was the fifth inning and she had noticed I was squirming in my seat and I kept putting my hand on my lower back.
“It’s nothing,” I said.
“Don’t give me that,” she replied. “I know it’s not. What’s wrong?”
“I guess I messed up my back a bit with that fall. I mean it’s been hurting a bit since the accident, and I felt ok right after the fall today, but now it’s throbbing. I might need to go get a chiropractic adjustment. It’s ok. I got a guy.”