Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Sport or Fitness (02/15/07)
TITLE: The Desert Jump
By Ryan Tribble
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As they sped down the highway, a Harley roared up beside them. Jim smiled as he envisioned his Honda right along the bearded rider.
“Dad, check out the Harley.”
“Where?” Jim turned in time to see the Harley slide out of control in front of a car. In spite of his dad’s efforts, they collided. Jim glanced back at his Honda, only to see a semi screeching behind.
Slowly the darkness began to fade; in the distance Jim heard the rumbling of engines. He opened his eyes, but he couldn’t see clearly. The ground upon which he lay was uncomfortably hot, and rocky.
“Wake up boy!” Jim gazed in the direction of the voice, but could only see a dark blur against the bright sky.
“Am I dead?”
“I sure hope not! There’s a race to be won, and you’re in it!” As the fog cleared, Jim made out a vast desert with hundreds of riders preparing their bikes.
“Where am I?”
“This isn’t heaven, or hell, but the other side of the zero that divides the number line of the universe. This world you’ve seen in the mirror. What was symbolic on earth is literal here. This is your chance to finish the race that you never began.”
Puzzled, Jim asked, “Where’s my father?”
“He awaits you at the finish line. Unless you want to fry in this heat, you best fix up that bike.” Jim followed his gaze to the remains of a Suzuki. “Don’t worry, bailing wire and bubble gum can fix anything.”
It wasn’t his Honda, but it was the machine entrusted to his repair. He found out the man behind the voice had many names.
Most referred to him as “Cap,” the master mechanic. He was a wealth of knowledge with a story for every tip. “Just ask and listen.”
Pride locked everyone from the jewels of Cap’s mind, except Jim. In time, Jim not only had a bike, but also Cap’s helmet, boots, chest-protector, and belly pack filled with tools.
“There are many goat trails along the way, but there is only one path to the finish line,” Cap warned. “On this path are many obstacles, but they were made to overcome.” He placed a compass in Jim’s belly-pack, “use this to guide you at night. The arrow points east. . . .”
Jim’s legs felt like burning rubber-bands, the wind cooled his body as he raced between cacti and over rocks.
“To finish, you must die,” Cap had said. Jim wondered what he meant.
In the distance Jim spied a canyon; adjacent to this was a towering plateau. He scanned the horizon, and sure enough, the jump, as Cap had described.
Experience said it was a fifth gear jump, but Cap had advised third. Hesitating, Jim weighed fear and faith in the balance of his mind, then shifted into third and popped one last wheelie.
The other riders waved and pointed in warning, but Jim was determined to finish. He was trusting in Cap’s words, though every fiber of his flesh wanted to turn back.
In fifth gear, a Honda passed him and hit the jump. It was a leap of faith, dividing the racers from the spectators. When he saw the Honda clear, Jim knew he would fall short.
He leaned into the jump and gunned the throttle with a prayer. The bike squealed as he soared across the canyon balancing with body and throttle. Jim bit his lip. It seemed as if he would barely clear. He shouted as his rear wheel cleared the edge, but his adrenaline calm was short lived.
He landed on a slope in time to see the Honda disappear into another canyon. Panicking, Jim momentarily forgot his bike’s controls. He slammed the brakes, and fell with rocks tearing at his flesh.
Though he was bruised, Jim rode on. There were hills to conquer, and boulders to maneuver, but they were trifles compared to the jump. With each stroke of the piston the desert grew greener, till at last he rode into the arms of the Father.
Instead of “dirt bikes,” there were “star bikes.” Though they were maintenance free, Jim preferred listening at the Master Mechanic’s feet. He told the greatest stories!
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