TITLE: A High-Strung Italian Beauty
GENRE: YA Contemporary (Coming of age)
Maybe I should feel good that a new rider searched me out. Asked for advice. A lot of the junior-men cyclists crowded near the starting line are eighteen. Me, I’m only seventeen.
But why should I help him? Hey, I don’t want to be a jag-off but I’ve never seen this guy before. Why should I tell him what I’ve learned from miles of sweat and blood and road rash?
I’m not in this to be nice. I’m in this to win.
He stares at me, waiting, like I owe him something. We straddle road bikes, minutes before the first pre-season race at the Oval. We’re not alone. Bunched around me is my team, the Burgh Boys, along with forty-two other riders from all over Pittsburgh.
My buddy AJ says, “Go on, Sam. Give him something.”
What the hell. I remember my first time. The nerves, the rush. Changed my life.
“The beginning of a race, it’s an avalanche of sensory overload,” I say. “Don’t let the distractions wreck your focus.”
The guy stares at me with his mouth open, like, huh? His face and thick neck flush red. He pushes off and disappears into the throng, muttering “asshole” under his breath.
AJ stifles a laugh. “Really? You could’ve just told him what gear to use.”
“He’s lucky I didn’t answer in French.”
“Non. Un amateur.” Our high school requires a language. AJ and I’ll need French when we get to the Tour de France.