The lights turned amber first. A quick calculation: I can’t make it. I change modes to brake. Slow gently, stop on the line. Right foot rests on the ground. I hear him approach, his engine is powerful, sounds sick. He stops; it stops grumbling. For a moment, nothing, then I hear him toot, gently. I turn, his expression almost apologetic. Not those fuckoff eyes you see on most guys. Especially behind a wheel. Funny what power does. His gesture, clear. Over to the side mate, give me space ahead. First, I rise. Then I smile and lower my eyes. Fair enough, he asked nicely. Though riled I am, I know he will pull away faster.
Unless. I look over. Sideways now, not behind. I did a wiggle over to here, cut left and forward onto the crossing, then reverse roll-stepped myself back into place. Clear space ahead of him now. He relaxes. It doesn’t even make sense, the half-question in my head. Maybe important that it doesn’t.
The pedestrian lights are done. Cross lights green. Taxis and vans trundling over the junction. Damp, dark, mild night. Almost there. I feel my legs shudder.
They change. I hear his revs. Red-ambe-…Green. Squeal. Of course I’m never going to match it for more than a second. Still, my toes have never been more poised. Now they push. The connection from thigh through foot-pedal-wheel to the ground feels glorious. In touch. The bike responds like it knows me. He’s accelerating off, of course we’ve no race.
We are racing. His power is great, but my wheels are doing something that I cannot explain. 30mph. 40. 45. I’m both just holding on and in utter control. I look over to his wide side-turned eyes. I grin manically. My wheels are off the ground now. Still pedalling, I wonder vaguely where the lift is coming from. Still nose-to-nose with auto. Pupil to pupil, his turned upwards.
Ground resistance gone, things really start to move. Wind ripping through me, muscles singing. I fly on. In this state of elation, language fails me. Fuuuuuuuuuuuu Yeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeah is all I muster. His face changed. I’m close enough, can still see. Pale, eyes shrinking. Then it gets dangerous to look over, past 90° now. I AM AHEAD. I know its over. My gaze straight, concentrate on this trembling steel frame don’t let it fail me. He is creeping, creeping out of my periphery. My fingers are screaming.
This is it. My nitrous hit. Up til now’s been a board game. The bike rears. I pulse. We go. Into the night up and out. First floor. Third floor. The road beneath, the city beneath, him beneath. Laughing shrieking spinning high. Tonight we raced and I won the sky.