Murmuration

Each peloton is a murmuration, a starling-like beast formed by many riders. Moving in sync, swerving down the mountain at death defying speed.

Steve belonged in the tail of the peloton, his wounded left arm lay powerless on the handlebar, courtesy of a dog causing half of the peloton to fall three days before. Rain pelted down, the peloton slowed. Steve bowed over the thin bike frame Soggy clothes clenched to scraped back and arms. Each pedal trash signaled pain through his body. The peloton slowed, he sighed in relief, pushed his pain filled skin from the handlebar and drank some water. Two fans clapped next to him, shouting his name through clattering rain drops.

The mountain poured the murmuration onto a freeway. It increased speed. Steve grimaced at another wounded cyclist, Russian with a bruised and battered body.

They cheered each other on, and picked up speed, straining against the rain and pain.

Finish in five kilometers. Nose to the handlebar, back strained, legs moving like an automaton would.

4, 3, 2, 1… The finish line smiled. He pushed himself over, and fell into the arms of his coach.

They lifted him off the bike. He leaned his body into the waiting arms. The Russian gave him his thumbs up. Steve forced a smile, and said, “See you tomorrow?”

The Russian cracked a smile on his blood stained face and nodded as if death stood in front of him and took his last energy.

A microphone pushed into Steve’s mouth. He didn’t notice the journalist attached to it. The media training answered the questions he half heard. Then he smiled, “Can’t wait to do this again tomorrow.”

He turned away from the microphone and bit the pain to his lip as he entered the bus.

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